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May 19, 2011 12:03 PM

Kitchen/flavor changes at S&I

The other day I saw this review on Yelp ( ) saying that S&I had changed chefs and things weren't as good. Not having been in a couple weeks I went over for a meal of pad ga pow moo krob and som tum. Based on that meal alone I would believe that there has been a change- the PGPMK was distinctly differently-flavored, with more of a strong soy/herbal flavor that I can't quite place.

Any other experiences, or actual knowledge about what's changed?

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  1. I had a pretty good Yen Ta Fo at S&I last week. The larb ped was excellent. Moo krob also good. Satay: tasty. I had just recently translated the Thai menu but Khun Nay told me that the menu was about to change. I didn't visit the kitchen on that occasion as is my habit to practice my nit noy Thai cause it was busy with two tables of Thais and a table of 8 farang Thaiaphiles. IMHO it is the closest thing we have here to real Thai taste. Next stop, Elmhurst? Woodside? Perhaps a field trip to Chicago, Las Vegas or Portland?

    4 Replies
    1. re: EATTV

      I agree that there's nothing else in MA that compares. Menu about to change?? Dang

      1. re: EATTV

        EATTV - get in touch with me offline if you will - nabincognito at ya-hew

        1. re: Nab

          Are you guys going to talk about S&I without the rest of us?

          1. re: Luther

            No but you should shoot me a note too. Let's go break bread dude.

      2. I went on Friday night and had larb pla duk, pad ki mow, chicken noodle soup, and the whole fried fish. The larb pla duk was much wetter than usual and had a slight mushy texture. The pad ki mow and the soup were good, but not the knock-your-socks-off level of goodness that is the S&I norm. I also noticed that the overall spice level was toned down. It was a pretty busy night, so I figured that might have been the reason for the difference, but maybe not?

        1 Reply
        1. re: boligrafo

          Larb ped was very hot. I notice when they tell me the chilies are "hot today" that it will be challenging but not ruinous.

        2. As a followup, I had a great meal at S&I this weekend, this time during peak hours when I normally go. We peppered them with questions and according to the server dude who's been working weekends recently: no change in ownership, no change in chef. They will be releasing a new menu soon that removes a small number of dishes and adds some new ones. I didn't get any other details.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Luther

            Excellent and important work here on your part. As the staff takes vacations and some go home to Thailand to visit family the place ebbs and flows. Seasonal ingredients effect them as well. Their batting average is however very high. Recently the catfish chili stir-fry recommended by my friend Mai, who translated the Thai language menu, was awesome. Shrimp yum (pla kung) also a big winner and Nam Tok dish (yum w/ blood), aroi aroi. I love where she writes "not sure". I feel a little better. My goal is to be able to inquire the days best ingredients and then to direct my dinner based on them. I did this with Chef David Thompson in Yarowat last September and it was ultimate. I should've been killed right on the spot. It just doesn't get any better than that, if you can forgive the cliche.

            ...S&I ToGo....Recommended menu… (menu nae num)
            -barbecued pork (muu ping)
            -barbecued chicken (kai yaang)
            -barbecued duck (ped yaang)
            -Thai/crab papaya salad (som tum thai/puu)
            -fried fish patty (tood mun)
            -shrimp paste chili sauce (nam prik ka pi)
            -son-in-law egg (kai luuk kuey)
            -Pa-Lo pork (muu pa lo) (palo is a chinese-styled stew w/ herbs)
            -Sour sausage + sticky rice (sai uua + kao neaw) (sai uua is Chiang Mai-styled sausage, tastes sour)
            -fried fish w/ 3-flavored sause (pla toad nam jim sam rod)
            -3-flavored fried tilapia (pla nin toad sam rod)
            -ginger, tilapia stir-fry (pal nin/pla tubtim pad chaa(king))(tilapia is nile tilapia, pal tubtim is a mixed breed between nile tilapia and another kind of tilapia so they are basically the same fish with different patterns and colors on their skin)
            -chu-chee curry tilapia/tubtim fish (chu-chee pla nin/pla tubtim)
            -fried mackerel (2 fishes) (pla tuu tod (song tua))
            -steamed chicken and rice cooked w/ chicken broth (kao mun kai)
            -fried chicken and rice cooked w/ chicken broth (kao mun kai toad)
            -seafood tomyum soup (not sure)(po taak)
            -beef spicy soup (not sure) (tom sab nua)
            -pork's intestine (tue huan)
            -sour soup w/ acacia omelette (kang som cha om kai tod)
            -sour soup w/ steamed sneak-head fish (kang som pae sa pla choan)
            -seafood sour soup (kang som ta lae)
            -pickled mustard green, pork ribs soup (tom jeud kra dook muu pak kad dong)
            -stuffed bitter gourd soup (kang jeud mara yud sai)
            -minced pork, tofu soup (kang jeud tao huu muu sab)
            -minced pork, chinese cabbage soup (kang jeub pak kad khao muu sab)
            -minced pork, mung bean noodle soup (kang jeub wun sen muu sab)
            -mixed vegetables stew (jab chai)

            …fried rice…(kao pad)
            -crab fried rice (kao pad pu)
            -shrimp fried rice (kao pad kung)
            -shrimp's liver fried rice (kao pad mun kung)
            -duck fried rice (kao pad ped)
            -roasted red pork fried rice (kao pad muu dang)
            -Chinese sausage fried rice (kao pad kun chieng)
            -salted dried fish, Chinese kale fried rice (kao pad ka na pal kem)

            Right section:
            ..noodles..(koai teaw)
            -Soy sauce noodle (pad see ew)
            -drunken noodle (pad kee mau)
            -mung bean noodle pad thai (wun sen pad thai)
            -seafood drunken egg instant-noodle (mama pad kee mau ta lae)
            -fermented bean curd sauce noodle soup (yen ta four)
            -Thai-styled dried sukiyaki or sukiyaki soup (suki nam/hang)(made w/ mung bean noodle)
            -seafood in gravy over noodle (rad na seafood)
            -chicken/pork/beef in gravy over noodle (rad na kai/muu/nua)
            -pork/chicken/beef in gravy over crispy noodle (mee krob rad na muu/kai/nua)
            -seafood in gravy over crispy noodle (mee krob rad na ta lae)
            -roasted red pork, dumpling egg noodle soup (ba mee keaw muu dang)
            -pork internal organ stew noodle (kuay jab kruang nai muu)
            -chicken roasted noodle (koai teaw kua kai)
            -seafood tom yum noodle soup (koai teaw tom yum ta lae)
            -chicken tom yum noodle soup (koai teaw tom yum kai)
            -pork tom yum noodle soup (koai teaw muu tom yum)
            -stewed beef ball noodle soup (koai teaw look chin nua pea)
            -stewed shitake mushroom, duck noodle soup (koai teaw ped tun hed hom)
            -boiled chicken noodle soup (koai teaw kai tom)
            -extra ingredient, minced pork noodle soup (koai teaw muu sub song krueng)
            -stewed tendon clear soup (kao lao en tun)
            -stewed tendon noodle soup (koai teaw en tun)

            …rice soup…(kao tom)
            -chicken/pork rice soup (kao tom kai/muu)
            -shrimp rice soup (kao tom kung)
            -fish rice soup (kao tom pla)
            -seafood rice soup (kao tom seafood)

            Left section
            Yum (Thai cold spicy salad):
            -beef yum
            -pork sausage (Muu Yor, either Chiang Mai or Isarn style) yum
            -clear noodle (Wun Sen or bean vermicelli) yum
            -Chinese sausage (Kun Chiang) yum
            -squid (Pla Muuk) yum
            -canned fish (Pla KraPong) yum
            -seafood (Ruam Mit Ta Lae) yum
            -pork or beef yum w/ blood (Nam Tok Muu/Nua)
            -shrimp yum (Plaa Kung)

            -chicken (kai) laab
            -pork (muu) laab
            -duck (ped) laab
            -catfish (pla duuk) laab

            Over Rice (Rad Kao):
            -crispy pork stir-fried Chinese broccoli (ka naa muu krob)
            -beef/pork oyster sauce stir-fried Chinese broccoli (ka naa nua/muu nam man hoi)
            -crispy chicken stir-fried Chinese broccoli (ka naa kai krob)
            -dried salty fish stir-fried Chinese broccoli (ka naa pla kem)
            -garlic pork (muu kra tiam)
            -mixed veggie stir-fry (pab pak ruom mit)
            -eggplant stir-fried minced pork (pad ma kuoa yaao muu sab)
            -chopped shrimp in omelet over rice (kao kai jeaw kung sab)
            -minced pork i omelet over rice (kao kai jeaw muu sab)
            -duck over rice (kao naa ped)
            -pork feet over rice (kao kaa muu)
            -red pork+crispy pork over rice (kao muu daeng+muu krob)
            -shrimp stir-fried curry powder (kung pad poang kra ree)
            -crab stir-fried curry power (puu pad poang kra ree)
            -crispy pork stir-fried curry power (muu krob pad poang kra ree)

            Right section
            Chili soup (kaang):
            -pickled bamboo chicken red curry(kaang kai nor mai dong)
            -chicken/pork/beef and mixed veggie chili soup (kaang pa kai/muu/nua), kaang pa is water-based chili soup, as supposed to coconut milk-based chili soup.
            -chicken/pork/beef green curry (kaang kiew waan kai/muu/nua)

            Chili Stir-Fry (over rice) [pad ped (rad kao)]:
            -catfish chili stir-fry (pad phed pla duuk)
            -crispy pork chili stir-fry (pad phed muu krob)
            -pork/chicken/beef chili stir-fry (pad phed muu/kai/nua)
            -seafood chili stir-fry (pad phed seafood)
            -squid stir-fried roasted chili in oil (pla muuk pad prik pao)
            -snakehead fish chili stir-fry (pad phed pla choan)
            -pork chili stir-fried stinky beans (muu pad prik kaang som sa tor)
            -shrimp stir-fried stinky beans (sa tor pad kung)

            Basil Stir-Fry (over rice) [Ka Pao (rad kao)]:
            -seafood basil stir-fry (ka pao ta lae)
            -preserved duck eggs basil stir-fry (ka pao kai yeaw ma)
            -preserved duck eggs+minced pork basil stir-fry (ka pao kai yeaw ma+muu sab)
            -chicken/pork/beef basil stir-fry (ka pao kai/muu/nua)
            -crispy pork/crispy chicken basi stir-fry (ka pao muu krob/kai krob)
            -crispy duck basi stir-fry (ka pao ped krob)

            white rice (kao suay)
            sticky rice (kao neaw)
            over-easy egg (kai dao)

            Dessert (kong wan):
            -mango sticky rice (kao neaw ma muong)
            -fried banana (kluoy tod)

            (entree with no rice extra $2) (jan yai mai mee kao peam $2)

            1. re: EATTV

              Please thank your friend Mai for the translation (and thank you for posting it). More new things to try!

          2. Today I had the Tom Kha Gai soup... now, please - correct me if I'm wrong.

            Tasted great - of this there is now doubt, but - 2 things stood out. a piece of galangal, cut on the bias, unpeeled, about 1/2" thick, as big as my thumb. Inedible, hard, woody. This should've been shredded thinly.

            Also, as I understand it, the outer leaves of lemongrass are to be used for stock, and strained, as they too are woody. Slices of lemongrass, 1/2" thickness, cut on the bias, had to be unceremoniously spit out.

            Just a datapoint.

            10 Replies
            1. re: okra

              It's also got lime leaves. You don't eat those, do you?

              1. re: Luther

                Not whole kaffir but lately I've been using a fine julienne or micro dice for lots of dishes. Tonight I'll accent larb with it. Awesome in banana flower salad also. This year I'm growing a tree due to citrus import restrictions. I also bought some galangal powder which may be useless.

                My big pieces of galangal bob about in my stock and I have got chunks in herbal thai soups before over there but it does seem odd.

                1. re: EATTV

                  All I'm saying is that I find okra's question weird, because plenty of dishes from any cuisine in the world include inedible flavoring items.

                  1. re: Luther

                    true, but, specifically galangal and lemongrass? (i have not seen that but you have certainly eaten more Thai than I.)

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I'm no Thai food expert. I just don't see anything wrong with leaving the inedible aromatics in the soup, whether they be bay leaves or big chunks of ginger or galangal or whatever. This isn't fine dining, it's delicious cheap eats.

                      1. re: Luther

                        I was taught that anything on the plate, down to and including the garnish should be edible. Yes, as you say, this isn't fine dining, but dining nonetheless.

                        Again, I'm as much Thai as I am Venusian, but, I thought the recipe for this soup should contain galangal in an edible form, shaved, or finely diced, as well as lemongrass, but the more tender inner part of the stalk that has been pulverized. In my case, both were rough chopped. I didn't mention the whole kaffir lime leaf either... I used another plate to leave that behind with the inedible chunk of galangal and the lemongrass husks. It was just a heads up as to what may be going on behind the curtain @ S&I.....

                        1. re: okra

                          Anything on the plate should be edible? I guess that means that serving meat on the bone is disallowed? Just a thought -- but I totally agree that anything floating in a bowl of soup should be edible. (Of course, everyone's idea of what constitutes "edible" is different. I used to have an aunt who would gnaw on chicken bones after eating the meat... Not my idea of a good time but if she and her dentist approved then fine with me.)

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            Nearly every version of Tom Kha that I have had in various parts of the country has had inedible whole slices of galangal, pieces of lemon grass, and sometimes the kaffir leaves. I do not think it is inappropriate for this type of soup.

                            1. re: elctrnc

                              well there you go. this is the answer needed!

              2. re: okra

                it's very common to find pieces of lemongrass, galanga, and kaffir lime leaves in se asian soups. particularly thai and cambodian

              3. Cross posting my recent impressions of S&I Thai....