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Pork Leg Stew Noodle Soup at Thai House Express - Report

Dave MP Oct 1, 2007 01:54 PM

I went to Thai House Express (Larkin location) for lunch just now, and thanks to Augustiner's recommendation back in May, I ordered the pork leg noodle soup.

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403503

I thought this soup was just about perfect - it's everything I'd ever want out of a noodle soup. I had had the pork leg stew before, and I knew that I preferred the leaner pieces of meat, so I ordered the soup without too many fatty pieces and w/ the wide rice noodles.

The soup was really amazing. A very generous serving of tender, flavorful, juicy stewed pork (off the bone) covered the entire surface of the soup. This was topped w/ cilantro, bean sprouts green onion and small bits of cracklings. Underneath the pork were silky, wide fresh rice noodles and lots of bits of pickled vegetable. The broth was delicious, with the pork and pickled vegetables each contributing to the overall sweet/savory flavor, making it both sweeter and more flavorful overall than the beef broth at Turtle Tower. The bits of crackling were crunchy right till the end of the bowl, making every sip beautifully textured and delicious. The only (very minor) complaint I have is that I personally don't *love* the flavor of the pickled vegetables. I enjoy them, and it's a nice contrast w/ the slightly sweet pork, but I can see how some people might not like them at all. Still, I think in this soup it really worked.

Like augustiner, I am going to have a hard time ordering other things at Thai House Express now. This soup was just too awesome.

Dave MP

  1. boomer13 Dec 22, 2007 03:34 PM

    I have read so many posts on this item. I just looked at the on-line menu, which had the Pork Leg Stew listed as a special, but (just to be clear) what everyone is going ga-ga over is this Stew on a noodle soup?

    Just want to make sure I am ordering the same thing that everyone is raving about. Then I will make sure to eat this by next week, since I don't think I can hold out any longer!

    Thanks!

    4 Replies
    1. re: boomer13
      twocents Dec 22, 2007 04:03 PM

      This post started as about the soup and I guess is still primarily about the soup. The pork leg over rice (Kao Kha Moo) is the dish the soup is based on, and also well liked on the board. Try one or the other depending on your mood.

      1. re: twocents
        Dave MP Dec 22, 2007 11:07 PM

        Yup.

        Basically, they have pork leg stew. You can get it three ways:

        a) Served over rice w/ pickled veggies and garlic dipping sauce on the side.
        b) a la carte - by itself. Perhaps still served w/ pickled vegetables?
        c) Served in a big bowl of broth, noodles, the same pickled veggies and various soup garnishes.

        So the pork is literally the same no matter what, but I really like the combination of flavors you get in the soup version so I think that's my favorite.

        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP
          p
          P. Punko Dec 23, 2007 01:24 AM

          The a la carte does have the veggies in there. At other places this dish will come with a hard boiled egg or two. I'm not into eggs, so I like it without, as THE serves it. Remember, the soup is on the specials menu they hand out with the regular menu, but it isn't usually on the specials white board.

          1. re: P. Punko
            boomer13 Dec 23, 2007 06:55 AM

            Thanks for the tips. I'll bring my notes with me. Can't wait to try some Pork Leg Stew (most likely in the soup noodle format). YUM!

    2. p
      P. Punko Dec 13, 2007 09:44 PM

      Kids, have we ever discussed what the pickled vegetables are? I think I had been assuming they were mustard greens, but I'm not sure? Does anyone know? I eat them too fast to pay too close attention.

      Also, one more thing, does any other Thai restaurant in the bay area have this dish on their menu?

      7 Replies
      1. re: P. Punko
        c
        chocolatetartguy Dec 14, 2007 10:52 AM

        According to the menu they are pickled mustard greens. They are lightly pickled compared to the the pickled vegetables that one might get in a Chinese shredded pork and pv noodle soup, but still have a nice bite to them.

        1. re: P. Punko
          twocents Dec 14, 2007 01:03 PM

          They are indeed the pickled mustard greens common in Chinese dishes and cheaply available in Chinese markets. The parent dish of this soup, Kao Ka Moo, is traditionally served with these greens as well as a chili-garlic sauce. I have never seen this dish as a noodle soup anywhere else (R. Lauriston first to report it here), but Kao Ka Moo is available in a few Thai restaurants around the area. Certainly not universally.

          1. re: twocents
            p
            P. Punko Dec 14, 2007 01:15 PM

            twocents- I haven't seen Koa Ka Moo/Khao Ka Moo/Khao Ka Muu anywhere else in the Bay Area (but I don't live in the city). I'd love to compare the different versions.

            1. re: P. Punko
              twocents Dec 19, 2007 06:21 PM

              The Thai noodle place in Tuk Tuk Thai market in Berkeley sometimes has it, and it is a lunch special at Sa Wooei in El Cerrito. The former was made with fairly lean slices of pork in a sweetish soy-based sauce served with vegetable or pickled mustard and garlic sauce. Sa Wooei's has sometimes been similar to the former, but other times what I think of as a more traditional version- braised pork shoulder with skin attached in a sweetish soy based sauce. There it is served with chinese broccoli. Chili garlic sauce.

              Thai Noodle on Shattuck in Berkeley also did a similar soy/pork shoulder version, but I have not seen it the last few times I've been.

              I think I am blanking on one or two more instances in the bay area (maybe some of the King of Thai Noodle in the city?).

              My archetype for this dish is the version at Sanamluang Cafe (Pomona) in the early '90s; the Thai House Express is less soy intense than I would like, but otherwise delicious. I order it frequently.

              1. re: twocents
                p
                P. Punko Dec 20, 2007 01:19 AM

                Thanks twocents,

                I haven't seen it anywhere on the Peninsula at all, and I'd love to know if there were a place on the Pen or in South Bay. I like THE's version better than the decent ones I've had in Boston- they serve it more authentically with the hard boiled egg, but I can't stand eggs, so I like it without.

            2. re: twocents
              c
              chocolatetartguy Dec 14, 2007 03:02 PM

              I'm not into Thai food much, but this soup wasn't what I think of as Thai. The noodle soups remind me more of what Vi's (Vietnamese) in Oakland Ctown used to serve, particularly the 5 spice duck leg noodle soup.

              1. re: chocolatetartguy
                p
                P. Punko Dec 14, 2007 08:46 PM

                David Thompson's "Thai Food" discusses the dish (Muu Parlow) being imported with Chinese immigrants to Thailand in the 1800s.

          2. chocolateninja Dec 10, 2007 09:03 PM

            place linking.

            -----
            Thai House Express
            901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            1 Reply
            1. re: chocolateninja
              s
              sheriff Dec 12, 2007 11:17 AM

              I just tried this place out with a friend last night. We both got the Pork Leg Noodle Stew. It was excellent. There wasn't a lot of cracklings in mine, but it was still really good. So much pork I couldn't even finish the whole bowl. I highly recommend it.

            2. p
              P. Punko Dec 10, 2007 07:43 PM

              Had this yesterday- fantastic!

              I really like the egg noodles in this soup. I had a magic bowl of Tom Yum Noodle Soup with pork, shrimp, dumplings and egg noodles once, and this reminded me of that, but it was better. I would love it if there were less pork skin (too much fat for me) and more pickled vegetables (because I love them), but it was really a perfect dish. I can't stop thinking about it. The broth was rich and clean with a smooth taste of 5 Spice powder, but not harsh. Really really great.

              3 Replies
              1. re: P. Punko
                shortexact Dec 10, 2007 07:45 PM

                I noticed they can be inconsistent with this. One time I ordered this dish, there was comparatively less pork skin but it was loaded with the pickled vegetables, which, like you, was definitely my preference. Another time, there was a lot of pork skin and much less vegetable. So maybe it's best just to ask one way or the other.

                1. re: shortexact
                  Dave MP Dec 11, 2007 09:21 AM

                  Yes, you can definitely ask them to make it how you prefer. I have asked for leaner pieces of pork, since I don't like all the fatty bits too much, and they gave me exactly what I requested. If you like the fatty parts you can request more of those. I am sure you could ask for lots of pickled veggies too.

                  1. re: Dave MP
                    p
                    P. Punko Dec 11, 2007 04:13 PM

                    Oh you are killing me. I am not in the city very much and I try to go to new places, but Thai House Express is going to monopolize lunches with the weather cooler now, and that soup being perfectable. All I did was spice it up with some of the dry crushed red pepper, but it really is a winner.

              2. f
                Fig Newton Dec 3, 2007 04:33 PM

                damn you dave, i've been thinking about this post for days. and i don't think i can go try it until late this week ...

                1. Dave MP Nov 29, 2007 12:00 PM

                  I went to Thai House Express on Tuesday and ordered this again. Just as good as the first time. There were fewer pickled veggies this time, and the noodles were fresh and not overcooked - really just perfect soup.

                  One DC had the pork leg stew rice plate, which is also great, but I like the soup version better.....and the other DC had pineapple fried rice which we thought was boring.

                  Dave MP

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dave MP
                    c
                    charliemyboy Nov 29, 2007 09:23 PM

                    Sounds great! Could you specify which soup on the menu you're talking about? Is this "62. Bba- Mee Moo Dang egg noodles with roasted pork"?

                    1. re: charliemyboy
                      Dave MP Nov 29, 2007 10:22 PM

                      It's called Pork Leg Stew Noodle Soup and it's currently only on the 'specials' menu that they have in addition to the regular menu. The specials menu is pink or orange or some other bright color. They ask what kind of noodles, and I always choose the fat rice noodles (but I think you could choose thin rice noodles or egg noodles too maybe).

                      So I don't think it's the #62 that you mentioned.

                      1. re: Dave MP
                        augustiner Nov 30, 2007 12:06 PM

                        you can definitely order it with egg noodles, as that's my preference.

                  2. augustiner Oct 1, 2007 10:25 PM

                    see? i had sworn to myself that the next time i go to thai house express, i would order something different, but your report is challenging my resolve.

                    1. z
                      zippo Oct 1, 2007 06:22 PM

                      Is there a similar soup but without pork, such as chicken, duck or veggie?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: zippo
                        Dave MP Oct 1, 2007 08:18 PM

                        They have several other soups, but I haven't tried any of them. But the duck one looks good. Here's a link to their menu on menupages:

                        http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                        However, the pork in the soup I described is pretty crucial to the overall greatness of the soup - it added so much to the overall flavor of the broth, that I don't know if another type of soup could be that similar. But potentially it could be equally good.

                        1. re: zippo
                          Robert Lauriston Oct 2, 2007 11:00 AM

                          As Dave MP says the pork leg stew has such a distinctive flavor that no soup made without it is going to be very similar.

                          #59 Five Spices Duck Noodle Soup would be the closest thing.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            c
                            chocolatetartguy Dec 10, 2007 11:51 AM

                            Tried this on Saturday while doing some shopping in the Tenderloin. It was a very good, satisfying bowl of noodles, but I wouldn't say that the pork contributed that much to the broth. I found the lean pork to be on the bland side, but well accompanied by the chunks of pickled mustard green. I wouldn't be surprised if the same broth is used in the other noodle soups. By itself I thought the broth to be slightly weak, but with the cracklings, fatty pork skin, fried onion bits and cilantro it was quite tasty. I would have to say that my favorite parts were the pickled mustard greens and the pork skin, making what I was looking for different from the OP. I definitely plan to return.

                        2. p
                          P. Punko Oct 1, 2007 03:07 PM

                          Yummy. Dave, was it cracklings or fried shallots/garlic? Those are the little fried taste bombs I am used to finding in various soups. I'm gonna get this next time I go.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: P. Punko
                            Dave MP Oct 1, 2007 03:14 PM

                            They were definitely pork cracklings! Very tasty.

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