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Thai Nakorn or Bust!!!

hch_nguyen May 1, 2007 08:48 AM

Alright....I have to be in OC this weekend for an event I am positively DREADING! I decided that a first time visit to Thai Nakorn afterwards might make the venture bearable as I grit my teeth.

Give me your top 3 entrees/dishes there + dessert. I'm not keen on fruits in my dessert at all, but if enough people chime in about the mango in sticky rice thing, I might give it a go. I do like the coconut/egg custard on sticky rice concoction (???)....not sure if that's the same thing or not (don't think so)....

Thanks!

  1. hch_nguyen May 7, 2007 07:05 AM

    So, I survived the event! However, I was told there would NOT be food at this event, and that's why I planned the Thai Nakorn outing. It turns out a bunch of the older Vietnamese women took it upon themselves to bring some homemade dishes. Now, I was hungry and mentally worn down, and I already have a hard time resisting free food even when I'm full and mentally fortifiied, so.....you know what happened!

    I am making a point to hit Thai Nakorn next weekend though although it will require some superfluous driving! Culinary curiosity is a tough impulse to fight....

    1. hch_nguyen May 2, 2007 11:26 PM

      Alright, I'm going with

      1) Watergrass (which I think is the same as water spinach, which I think is the same as Vietnamese rau muong)

      2) Mango salad with crispy catfish

      3) Pad Thai (gotta have a noodle dish)

      4) Mango and sticky rice. (better be good :)

      Will report back....Thanks, everyone!

      27 Replies
      1. re: hch_nguyen
        elmomonster May 3, 2007 08:36 AM

        Just so you know, the Mango Salad with Crispy Catfish uses pellet-sized crumbles of fried catfish which function like croutons (DELICIOUS by the way!). Didn't want you to go and expect a whole catfish or even a filet.

        To see a picture of it follow the link below:

        http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2006/...

        1. re: elmomonster
          Das Ubergeek May 3, 2007 08:37 AM

          They warn you about this now when you order it.

          1. re: elmomonster
            t
            Tkn May 3, 2007 09:20 AM

            Damn, I must've ordered the wrong one. The one I got was a filet on an oval dish with a small bowl of mango salad. Now that I think about it, maybe that was just the sauce?? =( There's a picture of it in their menu.

            1. re: Tkn
              elmomonster May 3, 2007 09:35 AM

              That one's called Deep Fried Fish with Mango Sauce (although this "sauce" is really the same mango salad base as the dish we were previously talking about, minus the catfish crumbles)...it's also on the same page of specials (with the nice glossy picture). And yep, it's delish too. One of my fave three actually.

              http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

            2. re: elmomonster
              hch_nguyen May 3, 2007 06:38 PM

              Elmomonster, thanks for the link to your Thai Nakorn review. I think I'd probably prefer the whole fish with mango sauce, but that white pomfret looks good, too, although it doesn't seem to have a whole lot of flesh to it.

              1. re: hch_nguyen
                elmomonster May 4, 2007 12:53 AM

                HCH_Nguyen,

                Actually I tried the pomfret again at Stanton, and it's huge this time. The size of a baseball mitt...seriously, lots of meat.

                By the way, anyone know what species that whole fish in the Fried Fish with Mango Sauce (salad) is? I'm inclined to say trout, but I think I'm wrong.

                http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

            3. re: hch_nguyen
              t
              Tkn May 3, 2007 02:14 PM

              1) It is rau muong, and it's done the same way as any other place (like say Seafood Cove). This is a comfort dish, isn't it? A staple vegetable stir-fried with garlic and brown sauce.

              2) I've had both the Mango salad with crispy catfish and the fish filet with mango salad sauce and I think I prefer the latter. I like the flaky fish fillet a little better than the "popcorn" catfish bits in the salad. Both are good though. FWIW, we asked for two bowls of the mango salad/sauce with our filet order and they complied without any problems.

              3) Didn't try the Pad Thai, but the Pad See Ew with beef had a nice smokey flavor to it.

              4) Had the sau rieng with rice dessert and it was just that: sau rieng over rice with some coconut juice/syrup. If you don't like fruity desserts, then you might not like this one. Can't speak for the mango rice dessert, but I'd imagine it to be pretty similar. This is a hot dessert, btw.

              Everything was fine and tasted great, but nothing really knocked my socks off. I've eaten at Thai Nakorn before when they were located further North on Beach Blvd and didn't think much of it back then either. Sorry Chowhounders! JMHO.

              1. re: Tkn
                Das Ubergeek May 3, 2007 02:28 PM

                The mango with sticky rice isn't hot. The rice may have a little warmth left over but not usually. And why call it sau rieng? Just say "durian" and let everyone wig out over it and have done.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                  t
                  Tkn May 3, 2007 02:46 PM

                  Hmmm, when I said hot, I meant that it is a not-cold dessert. But you're right, it's only warm. My post was in reply to HCH_Nguyen so I guess I just called it sau rieng without thinking. To be completely honest with you I don't really know the English term, I always get durian and stinky jackfruit confused. *shrug* No need to wig out.

                  1. re: Tkn
                    Das Ubergeek May 3, 2007 03:15 PM

                    Jackfruit is mit -- as in goi mit, which I suppose must be an acquired taste.

                  2. re: Das Ubergeek
                    hch_nguyen May 3, 2007 04:55 PM

                    I usually refer to it is sau rieng, too, although I know it's durian, but I only figured that out fairly recently. Even more recently, I figured out that water spinach/grass was rau muong. There are so many fruits and vegetables that many Vietnamese (and prob other Asians, too) grew up eating for which we have no idea what the English equivalent names are, and even when we do know them, it feels less natural to use the English equivalents and is not spontaneous.

                    1. re: hch_nguyen
                      Das Ubergeek May 4, 2007 08:16 AM

                      I have this problem with rau om and ngo gai... but mostly because "rice paddy herb" and "sawleaf herb" don't exactly trip off the tongue.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        hch_nguyen May 4, 2007 08:38 PM

                        Well, I find in general whichever terminology you learned first trips off the tongue more readily. Durian in no way evokes the same level of aversion for me as sau rieng does even though they refer to the same thing. The first time I ate that stuff and was thoroughly repulsed by it as well as for many, many years after that, it was known to me only as sau rieng, so the strong mental, emotional, and linguistic association is natural.

                  3. re: Tkn
                    e
                    Erik M May 3, 2007 02:43 PM

                    "It is rau muong, and it's done the same way as any other place (like say Seafood Cove). This is a comfort dish, isn't it? A staple vegetable stir-fried with garlic and brown sauce."

                    Not if you ask them to make phak bung fai daeng, or "red fire water spinach," it's not. This particular preparation includes fermented yellow bean sauce, garlic, and bird chile for plenty of heat and flavour.

                    Here is a good primer:

                    http://realthai.blogspot.com/2006/03/...

                    E.M.

                    1. re: Erik M
                      t
                      Tkn May 3, 2007 02:55 PM

                      Wow! I did not know about that. It looks so much more potent and interesting. Will have to try it next time. Thanks for the tip!

                    2. re: Tkn
                      hch_nguyen May 3, 2007 04:55 PM

                      Tkn, thanks for your detailed comments.

                      I never eat sau rieng in any language, much less on a dessert...blech....I do like jackfruit a lot though especially the sinh to.

                      1. re: hch_nguyen
                        groover808 May 3, 2007 07:49 PM

                        Woah, sau rieng...memories of my mom and aunts hacking it up in the backyard since it stinks up the house so much. When I read watergrass, wasn't sure what it was but the moment rau muong was tossed out there, the lightbulb went off in my head.....must be a fantastic dish. Total comfort food.....lots of garlic. I try to find all the english translations for the various vietnamese herbs but they can be hard to come by in one resource.

                        Btw, the mango and sticky rice is pretty much a lump of plain soy (sp) with a light covering of nuoc dua (coconut milk) and some very ripe sliced mango on the side. Very tasty!

                        1. re: groover808
                          Das Ubergeek May 4, 2007 08:17 AM

                          Er, soi (steamed rice), not soy (legume beloved by Americans in fermented sauce form, who put it on their soi), in case anyone's looking. :)

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                            Curt the Soi Hound May 4, 2007 09:15 AM

                            It's actually khao neow mun (sweet sticky rice).

                            Khao suey is plain steamed rice.
                            Khao neow is the sticky rice traditionally served up with issan finger foods.
                            Khao neow mun just has sugar, salt and coconut milk added in.

                            Since everyone here seems to want to experience the special stuff, I am amazed at the constant recs for sticky rice with mango.
                            I really feel that after frog eyes, chicken lips and boars tails, one should at least try the pumpkin custard in a coconut.

                            1. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                              Das Ubergeek May 4, 2007 09:52 AM

                              I didn't see that on the list -- when it's the other way round (coconut custard in pumpkin) it's my wife's favourite dessert.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                Curt the Soi Hound May 4, 2007 12:15 PM

                                It's an "ask for" item and not always available.
                                At the GG location you could spot it in the refer case.

                                I'm not a custard kind of guy, but I love this stuff!

                                1. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                                  j
                                  justagthing May 4, 2007 03:04 PM

                                  I tried this last week, somewhat disappointed. They have it premade and then just nuke the coconut for you when you order it. It was somewhat bland. I think if it was fresh, I would have liked it much better.

                              2. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                                o
                                OCchowman May 4, 2007 05:59 PM

                                I took one of these home with me last week, because we were too full to eat it there, and it didn't seem to me to have a pumpkin flavor. It tasted like coconut custard in a coconut.

                                Although it was really good, sticky rice with mango is still my favorite. (I spent much of my childhood in Laos, where we had Khao neo mun all the time. For me it is a comfort food thing.)

                                Does anyone know where you can find the green and purple versions of sweet sticky rice?

                              3. re: Das Ubergeek
                                groover808 May 4, 2007 05:52 PM

                                Thanks, I knew I totally fudged that :) There is a great soi place in little saigon in the same plaza as Quan Hy on Bolsa btwn Brookhurst and Bushard...hmmm good stuff.

                                1. re: groover808
                                  hch_nguyen May 4, 2007 06:45 PM

                                  groover808, are you talking about Hien Khanh??? It's the che place across the parking lot from from Quan Hy, and I believe they have soi too, including the different colored variations. They make the best che in my opinion, in case anyone's interested.

                                  1. re: hch_nguyen
                                    groover808 May 4, 2007 10:07 PM

                                    Yes!! I didn't even know the name of the place, just that it's a few doors down from Banh Cuon Tay Ho. OCchowman...that is where you'll find all sorts of varieties of sweet sticky rice that are both savory and sweet (soi) including the green and purple kind you were looking for.

                                    1. re: groover808
                                      o
                                      OCchowman May 5, 2007 02:56 PM

                                      Thanks, Groover, I'll give it a try!

                      2. groover808 May 1, 2007 10:44 PM

                        Just went there for the first time. I know everyone likes the items on the specials list. If you want some standard noodles, the pad sew ewe is good. Also for soup the tom yum hot & sour is yummy although not as tangy as maybe canh chua. I like my curry with coconut milk but not the thai soups. I hope to be more adventurous on my next trip. Hope you survive your event! Beware of the karaoke!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: groover808
                          OCAnn May 1, 2007 11:13 PM

                          I *much* prefer the savoury pad see ew over the sweet pad thai. I rarely get the pad thai now (unless someone in our group wishes it). That and the mango sticky rice...quite heavenly!

                          1. re: OCAnn
                            n
                            ns1 May 2, 2007 01:01 AM

                            haha that's funny. After reading this thread I too went there. Pad thai was spectacular as usual, as was the sticky rice/mango. Fried fish/mango wasn't as good as it usually is - fish was good but something about the mango salsa thing that they put on it was off - not "saucey" enough/flavorful enough IMHO. tom yum soup was quite good also though.

                            But yeah, that pad thai god. So good. So, so, very good.

                          2. re: groover808
                            hch_nguyen May 2, 2007 11:24 PM

                            Hmmm, groover808, I always prefer coconut milk in my thai soups. I'm not crazy about canh chua, but there's a definite nostalgic quality to it for me, which is soothing in an entirely different, non-culinary way....I *always* steer clear of the karaoke...

                          3. j
                            justagthing May 1, 2007 08:48 PM

                            Went again tonight. Had the catfish with green mango, that was good, but I think that I will go for the Beef salad next time. Also had the Beef Panang on the recomandation of the waiter. It was so tender and tasty with a hint of lemongrass. For dessert, I had the custard in the coconut shell. It was ok, disappointed b/c they have to nuke it to warm it up. The top of it was not so tasty. But the combo of the coconut meat and the egg custard was nice. Next time, it's the mango sticky rice.

                            1. kingkong5 May 1, 2007 06:55 PM

                              What a coincidence! I'm thinking of hitting up Thai Nakorn this weekend too. Which day?

                              I would think the green mango salad w/ crispy catfish would be good.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kingkong5
                                hch_nguyen May 1, 2007 10:07 PM

                                The mango catfish definitely seems to be the frontrunner!

                                I'm planning Saturday night, but I have no idea what time because it depends on when t his event lets out, and if I know Vietnamese events....it can't be too soon for me....

                              2. elmomonster May 1, 2007 11:18 AM

                                3 of my all time faves:

                                Stir Fried Watergrass with Bean Sauce
                                Deep Fried Fish with Mango Sauce
                                Clams in Chili Paste with Basil

                                Dessert: Coconut Jelly

                                http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: elmomonster
                                  Das Ubergeek May 1, 2007 11:58 AM

                                  I haven't tried the watergrass, but I love the wild boar... Elmo's fish and clams are also way up there on the "YES YES YES" list and I love love LOVE the mango and sticky rice.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                    n
                                    ns1 May 1, 2007 12:04 PM

                                    Who needs to be exotic when you can go with the best

                                    Pad thai + sticky rice and mango.

                                    1. re: ns1
                                      d
                                      dagrassroots May 1, 2007 03:31 PM

                                      The mango and sticky rice is one of my favorite desserts of all time.
                                      Mango salad with catfish is also very good.

                                      1. re: dagrassroots
                                        WildSwede May 3, 2007 11:03 AM

                                        3rd (4th??) the Mango w/Sticky Rice. Absolutely delish!

                                        1. re: WildSwede
                                          k
                                          kek is khmer May 3, 2007 03:36 PM

                                          4th/5th the Sticky rice and mango. I can't stop eating it, its addictive!!

                                2. Curt the Soi Hound May 1, 2007 09:19 AM

                                  My entree suggestions are far too boring for many here.

                                  I will suggest the pumpkin custard in coconut for dessert.
                                  To me, sticky rice, although good, is about as exciting as mashed potatoes!

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