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May 6, 2009 09:09 PM

Richmond: DeDe Thai Noodle will make any Laotion dish on request

DeDe just opened in the location of Gonzalez Mexican restaurant. The menu is mainly Thai but there were a few Lao dishes on the menu.

Given the word 'noodle' in the restaurant name, I ordered ...

90. Kao Piek Sen
Homemade noodle served in chicken broth and shredded chicken topped with fried garlic

I thought this was really swell ... but ...

1. I've never had this soup before or ANY Laotian soup
2. Someone has to tell me what I ate. I have my suspicions.

There was a nice amount of largish pieces of chicken. The broth was rich, flavorful and aromatic with fried garlic. There was a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. A little cup of red spicy sauce was on top which I think may have contained more fried garlic. I mixed it in the soup reluctantly because I was really liking the soup as is. It was equally delicious with the hot sauce.

Ok, what else is in this soup? There were about a half dozen red cubes that tasted like chicken organ meat, maybe liver or kidney. However, they were too uniform in size. I had some sort of blood cubes, didn't I?

Even so, when I make my own chicken soup I leave the giblets in it because I like the slightly bitter taste, so I pretended they were giblets and enjoyed them very much.

When I orderd this, the woman asked if I had this dish before. I sais no and blathered on that I was interested in learning about Laotian dishes.

She said that usually only Laotian people order this dish. She said back home this was one of her favorite dishes which she usually has for breakfast. So we talked a while and that's when she said they would make any Laotian dish on request.

Everybody seemed really pleased about this soup. The lady who was cooking came out smiling to deliver it. Very nice people and very tasty soup, IMO.

They are still deciding on what to do with the interior, but they made a nice start on changing the look. They replaced the center booths with tables and only have black booths lining the walls.

Hmmm ... maybe people should consider naming the triangle of San Pablo Ave and 23rd street bordered by Rheem ... Little Lao

DeDe Thai Noodle
12955 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA

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  1. Could you comment on the quality of the chicken stock and the homemade noodles?

    Here's my old post with a photo of this dish at a Lao restaurant that's closed now.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Yeaaah ... I had a feeling that was pork blood. Ok, I'm over it. I can now eat pork blood without fear. This is how I had my first menudo. I didn't know what I was eating. Then I got over it. Fortunately both my first menudo and first taste of pork blood were good versions. I can understand the appeal of pork blood now.

      Anyway, I think there might have been other options besides chicken because I was asked if I wanted chicken. Since the menu said chicken ... I went with that.

      It was white meat though it seemed there was also a piece of dark meat. Sorry, I was distracted by the pork blood to focus on the chicken. It was better than most chicken in chicken soups. Sometimes restaurant chicken soup has the texture of chicken in canned soup. This was like fresh chicken.

      The broth looked a lot better than your broth, it was clear and golden and not at all cloudy.

      I was sweating the noodle question and hoping no one asked, since I have nothing to compare them to. I love all those dumpling / noodle discussions on the board, but I may not be the right person to answer.

      The noodles looked similar to those in your picture maybe a tiny bit thicker and longer.

      To me they were lovely, silky and almost lush. Hard to say about texture. I got the soup to go and stopped by Grocery Outlet to do some shopping so the noodles were sitting in there for a while. The soup, by time I got to it needed no heating and had only cooled slighlty.

      So while I wouldn't call them chewy, there was some texture to them. They weren't soft like noodles in canned soup.

      1. re: rworange

        Yes, you had some cooked pork blood cubes. =)

        For "Khao Piak Sen" (Lao chicken noodle soup), the best cooked pork blood cubes are served at Vientian Cafe in Oakland. The Lao chef at Vientian Cafe cooks her pork blood cubes differently than most other chefs. Her cubes have a nice, wonderful scent to them. I can't remember if the broth was good at Vientian, but the pork blood cubes are DELICIOUS in the Khao Piak Sen soup.

        Khao Piak Sen broth should not be cloudy, but it should be slightly thick, but still somewhat translucent. This Lao soup is usually always made with fresh chicken. The authentic way is to use a type of stewing chicken, which has a sweeter taste and a heartier texture than regular broiler/fryer chicken. But I believe Lao restaurants in the U.S. use regular broiler/fryer chicken.

        1. re: yummyrice

          Again, thanks for your guidance. I frankly find it mindbogging that I am putting Vientan Cafe high on my to-try list for the pork blood. I have yet to try the blood-based dishes in my own ethnicity, Polish, such as kishka and ducks blood soup. Yeserday I saw some literally black boudin noir at Fatted Calf, and was thinking "I don't think so".

          1. re: rworange

            You're welcome. =)

            Wow, I never knew that Polish cuisine also had dishes made with blood. That's cool. Cooked pork blood is definitely an acquired taste. The pork blood cubes at Vientian are delicious to me because I love eating pork blood cubes especially when it has a nice scent to it that I've only found at Vientian. I wouldn't say that it's drastically different from other cooked pork blood cubes, but it's still delicious to me because of the wonderful scent.

            1. re: rworange

              Slightly OT, but for a fine, fine bowl of Vietnamese noodles with just a cube or two of pork blood, check out Bun Bo Hue An Nam in San Jose. Beautifully composed, with al dente thick rice noodles, slices of beef shank, pork trotter, gio lua studded with whole black peppercorns, a smidge of tendon, and just 1-2 cubes of pork blood (just enough to make it exciting, not enough to make it gross). Garnished with shaved banana blossom, cabbage, bean sprouts, and lime. The broth is clear and spicy without the inch thick layer of grease that most other joints have.

              Bun Bo Hue An Nam
              740 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

              1. re: sfbing

                I remember BBH's pork blood cubes to have a more pronounced flavor, but still subtle, and cooked more medium-ish. Other places, I find the pork blood bland.

              2. re: rworange

                If you've had pork blood cubes and liked them, you should definitely try the boudin noir!

                1. re: rworange

                  "I have yet to try the blood-based dishes in my own ethnicity, Polish, such as kishka...".

                  You can easily remedy this lapse in your patriotic duties by trying kashanka - buckweat sausage, where blood serves as a binding agent. It is really delicious fried in a skillet. Delikateski in Concord has usually quite a selection and, supposedly, some are more suitable for frying than others, so it's best to ask. Sadly, in my case kashanka always falls apart while frying, no matter how many holes I punch in the casing. Oh well, people scramble eggs on purpose, so there is nothing wrong with scrambles sausages, despite somewhat compromised aesthetic aspect of the dish. Serve with fried potatoes, few slices of apples and Chopin's mazurkas playing in the background :)

          2. A few of the Lao dishes from the menu and some lesser seen Thai dishes, I think. There might be a Vietnamese and Chinese dish here and there on the menu, but then again, what do I know.

            Thai boat noodle soup
            Noodle soup with beef. beef ball, liver, spinach topped with pork skin and fried garlic.

            This might also be known as floating garden soup and may involve cow blood. Here's a discussion from the Washington, DC and Baltimore board.

            Here's a mention from some place in the Twin Cities of all places ...

            "Boat noodle is a Thai specialty that is … well, it’s not for the easily frightened. True boat noodle is deeply beefy, funky, with hard assaults of tang, sourness, spice, sweet, and good… Boat noodle style gets its characteristic cloudy appearance and extrafunky flavor from its primary thickener, beef blood. But once you’ve had it funky, you can’t go back to the clean stuff. You’re dirty forever"

            Kao Poon
            Spicy coconut soup with chicken or fish with vermicelli noodles

            Kao Soy
            Flat rice noodle with fermented bean and ground pork cooked in tomato sauce

            When I asked what else was Lao, she said the Suki-Yaki (soup or dried) was Lao
            Assorted vegetables with silver noodle and combination of meats in homemade sauce

            Som Tum (Thai or Laos Style)

            Naked Ladies (dressing Raw Prawns)
            Raw prawns, topped with hot and sour spicy garlic sauce

            Lao sausage (sai gok)
            Pork sausage mixed with lemongrass, herbs and chili. They make it themselves

            Chili fried rice
            Fried rice with egg, onion, basil, bell pepper, chili and choice of meat.

            Kao pad goon chiang
            Chinese sausage fried rice with egg, onions and tomatoes

            Tod Nam Kao (rice ball salad)
            Fried rice ball in mixture of preserved pork and lime juice

            Ka Na Mu Krob
            Sauteed crispy pork belly with Chinese broccoli

            2 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              RWO - the twin cities has a substantial SE Asian population, and st paul in particular is the site of major Hmong resettlement (rivaling Fresno). In fact i would say that, in addition to new american, SE Asian is the cuisine we do the best.

              That particular article you linked to reviews one of the best thai places ive ever eaten at outside of thialand, which is right on par with THE in the tenderloin, Lotus of Siam in Vegas (winner for best Kao Soi ever, hands down), and Ruen Pair and a couple other places ive tried in Thaitown in LA - I havent been back to the city since Ler Ros opened, but i am looking forward to it.

              One thing i will say about Lao food in particular, especially given Jeremy Iggers quote "You're dirty forever" is that there is a muddiness that comes across in many of the dishes which i resisted at first and have come to really like. I LOVE traditional thai papaya salad, but the funky murky lao style with fermented shrimp/crab paste (way more than you would get in a thai version) has grown on me substantially.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                Not many people are aware of this, but Thai "som tum" is based on the Lao "tum mak hoong" / "tum som" papaya salad dish. The Thais did not like the strong Lao fermented fish sauce called Padaek so they omitted it from the Lao recipe for papaya salad. The modified version of the Lao papaya salad (without the Lao fermented fish sauce) is known as Thai papaya salad or "som tum".

            2. I just noticed your comment "Hmmm ... maybe people should consider naming the triangle of San Pablo Ave and 23rd street bordered by Rheem ... Little Lao"...LOL! That would be kind of cool considering that there are a lot of Lao people living in San Pablo/Richmond and the number of restaurants and markets in the "triangle" that cater to not only westerners, but the Lao population as well.

              10 Replies
              1. re: yummyrice

                I should extend it to Rumrill rather than cutting off at 23rd. I forgot about the two Thai markets there which I'm guessing probably also are oriented to the Lao people in the area ... tho the stretch on 23rd is probably the epicenter.

                1. re: rworange

                  I didn't know we had Thai markets in the area. There are four Lao markets that I know of in the area.

                  That Luang Market
                  1610 23rd St.
                  San Pablo, CA 94806
                  (510) 232-2625

                  Luang Namtha Market
                  1610 23rd St.
                  San Pablo, CA 94806
                  (510) 232-2625

                  Houa Khong Market (Mekong Market)
                  2043 23rd St.
                  San Pablo, CA 94806
                  (510) 233-9542

                  Heng Fath
                  435 23rd St.
                  Richmond, CA 94804
                  (510) 234-3895

                  The names of the first three listed above are in reference to cities or temples in Laos. The forth one kind of sounds Lao, but I believe it's actually a Chinese name because the owner is a Chinese Laotian.

                  What are the names of the two Thai markets that are also in the area? It's nice having another option or two for SE Asian products. Thanks!

                  1. re: yummyrice

                    The first two have the same address.

                    You inspired me to finally check out the last market I haven't visited yet.

                    Asia Food and Bait Shop
                    1852 Rumrill San
                    Pablo, CA

                    Here's my report

                    The other is

                    Luang Namtha
                    1869 Rumrill Blvd
                    San Pablo CA
                    (510) 233-2611

                    Here's a little long ago report

                    Both are near Food Barn on San Pablo. One is across the street and the other is a few buildings down. There's some sort of Laotian community center or something next door to Luang Namtha

                    What is funny is that when looking for the phone number for Asian Market, Googling found "Asian Food & Bake Shop" Unfortunate typo by someone. Or someone who couldn't register the combination of both businesses. Pastry lovers will be disappointed.

                    Luang Namtha Market
                    1869 Rumrill Blvd, San Pablo, CA

                    1. re: rworange

                      I was googling Luang Namtha and somehow came across some Lao food links. There was one recipe site that seemed to stand out so I posted about it here.

                      BTW, I had no clue that Laotian fried rice (Nhem) was so different. Will have to order that soon.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Have never heard it called "fried rice" before, maybe that's the disconnect. Here's my report on the Nem (aka Nhem or Nam Kao) at VVK in Santa Rosa,

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          It's actually a "fried rice ball" dish because the rice balls, the size of large oranges, are deep-fried to give the external shell a nice and crispy texture. The deep-fried rice balls are then broken up into chunks and then made into Nam Khao (aka Nem). However, it's sometimes known as Laotian fried rice, which I think is a misleading name because an actual Laotian fried rice dish (the kind that is stir-fried) is similar to other Asian fried rice dishes.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Ah, it is called Tod Nam Kao (Rice ball salad) at DeDe. It is #9 in the appetizers section. It just says "Fried rice ball in mixture of preserved pork and lime juice.

                            This is really a lovely dish and I'm not all that into rice in any cuisine. There's a nice citrus taste. I love the crunch and flavor the peanuts gave it and the texture of the preserved pork. There were a few dried peppers which didn't give so much heat to be unbearable. They fit nicely in with the dish giving it a mild kick. It is very nice with the lettuce and herbs. I'd try this again at other Lao restaurants.

                            While I was waiting for my takeout order, I asked about the jars of condiments, one a red chilie paste and the other a green jalapeno condiment. Both are made in-house. When I asked how the jalepeno would be used, they said either on fried rice or in soup. They gave me a small take out container

                            I could eat this stuff straight. It is tangy, vinegary and pleasantly sour with mild heat. It was great added to the rice.

                            All of that being said, the rice wasn't crispy. I don't know if I got the gringo version or if that is just the way it is made here.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I also got an order of the Kao Poon for comparison sake. I think yours might have been the better version. The soup wasn't as a dark. Trying it without the noodles and herbs it was everything I dislike about Thai food in general It reminded me of too many curry sauces which are more sauce than chicken.

                              The charm of this dish is adding in everything ... I am supposed to add this stuff in, right?

                              IMO, DeDe does a nice job of noodles. The vermacelli looked better than in your photo and was the first Asian vermacelli I liked. They probably don't make it but still ... nice.

                              There was also a mix of herbs, bean sprouts cabbage, various tiny fresh peppers, choped cucumbers. When added to the soup, well, very good. Maybe not the way to do things, but I added the last of the green jalepeno condiment and it upped the flavor a bit.

                              I didn;t get any chopped peanuts though.

                              Keep in mind I don't have much experience with Lao food, but I found it so much better than any Thai food I've tried.

                              That being said, I' liked the Kao Piek Sen way more. I think out of the soups that might be the star here.

                          2. re: rworange

                            >>The first two have the same address.

                            Thanks for catching my mistake! The second Lao market "Luang Namtha Market" is the same one that's on 1869 Rumrill Blvd, but for some reason I ended up using the address for That Luang Market. =)

                            The Lao markets in San Pablo tend to use the names of cities in Laos...if not cities, then either the names of temples or a generic name like "Mekong Market". =)


                            Anyway, I think I've seen that Asia Food and Bait Shop place before, but I never knew that it carried Lao/Thai products.

                            1. re: yummyrice

                              Yes, only one and it seems focused on Laotian groceries.

                    2. RWO, do you know if DeDe is still there? I just tried to call and got a recording that says the phone has been disconnected.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: dimsumgirl

                        It closed a few weeks ago, unfortunately. I just don't eat enough Thai food, but I would have liked to try some other dishes. I just marked the record as closed.

                        In San Pablo, the Thai joint on the corner of Dover and 23rd changed owners again. I'm going to wait five or six hours to see if they stick. Only a slight exaggeration. I think there were four different owners in that place in 2009.

                        In other cuisines, nearby there's a billard parlor and Mexicn restaurant. It opened a few months back without a sign and just seemed to be a billard parlor. Haven't tried it yet.

                        1. re: rworange

                          For Asian cuisine, I think Chinese restaurants tend to be more stable than Thai restaurants as far as staying in business, so I"m not surprised that several Thai restaurants have gone out of business in San Pablo. That location on Dover and 23rd seems to be more suited for Mexican cuisine, but someone keeps trying to promote Thai food on that corner, but it never seems to work out. If that new Thai restaurant goes out of business, I think someone should open a Mexican restaurant there instead.

                          1. re: yummyrice

                            You would think,yet Mom's Cuisine across the street has gone through two owners, both of which put out better Mexican food than many of the nearby Mexican joints

                            I still don't have the heart to even pick up a menu until I see soeone actually in there. Still they did a few good things so far. First they put up a huge bold new sign making it clear it was someone new. Then they secured the parking lot next door. It really was a pain finding nearby parking.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I guess that building/location is just not meant for a restaurant business. I remember that place used to be a car audio installation shop or something like that.