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Thai North in Brighton

A few weeks back I mentioned I met the owners of a new Thai restaurant specializing in Chiang Mai area food.
Has anyone tried it?
433 Faneuil St, Brighton, MA02135


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  1. Unfortunately it looks like it might be "secret Thai menu" time


    19 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      Finally, a gaeng hung-lay in town !

      1. re: Luther

        I used to live a block away from this location. The menu looks meh and Yelp comments are "the pad thai is wonderful" kind.

        1. re: Luther

          Surely Luther has decoded the Lanna luxuries on the menu by now, of which there are several, and I hope he and others share their experiences because my first meal here today was very promising.

          I woke up with a hankering for laab khua and called Thai North to see if their online menu is a shvindel or what. The woman said she was fresh out of all the offal-y bits but next time I should call a day in advance. They’re from rural Chiang Mai, a small mountainside farmtown a few hours outside of Chiang Mai the city, and I’m told that, aside from a few local yokels ordering off the English (online) menu, it’s mostly Chiang Mai expats who comprise their clientele. There is a chalkboard with their Northern specialties which I’ve attempted to translate below.

          Kaeng hangleh, classic Northern curry with Burmese origins, had less body than I’m accustomed to (altho thin is typical up north), was slightly on the sweet side of the spectrum, but is a complex, aromatic and delicious curry quite unlike most other curries in the Thai repertoire. I’d asked for pork and received belly hunks along with big slabs of porkfat.

          Kaeng ho, was kind of redundant, as I’m told it’s what is usually made the day after a dinner of kaeng hangleh, stir-frying the curry with vegetables, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, chilies and glass noodles. Regardless, it’s a tasty dish, particularly enhanced by the condiment caddy.

          Nam prik ong, aka Thai bolognese, was fire-engine red, oily but bright with sharp chili notes and tangy tomatoes. Served with raw veggie crudite, fried pork rinds and sticky rice.

          Sai ua, Northern sausage, looked a little wan on first glance but turned out to be far more fiery than any other version I’ve had in town. The spicing was terrific to my tastes, only quibble was it could’ve used a bit more fat and juice. Again, served with requisite ginger matchstix, birdy chiles, lettuce and their excellent sticky rice.

          Dtam makhya was maybe my favourite dip o’ the day – a smoky roasty eggplant and chile dip made usually with bplaa raa (rotten fish condiment like prahok), this was a George Clinton-ized baba ganoush that goes great with the crunch of a crispy pork rind.

          The chalkboard menu is comprised of some tantalizing Thai classics of the Chiang Mai region. Here’s my attempt at translation, somebody please help out:

          1. Kaeng ho – pork curry stir-fry with vegetables and glass noodles
          2. Kaeng khanoon – jackfruit curry
          3. Tom khanoon – jackfruit soup
          4. Nam prik noom – pounded green chili dip
          5. Nam prik ong – tomato-based ground meat dip
          6. Khanom jeen (???) – rice vermicelli dish with meatsauce
          7. Kaeng kua gai – Thai chicken curry
          8. Khao soi – Chiang Mai chicken noodle curry
          9. Moo ping – grilled Puerco
          10. Dtam makhya – pounded roasted eggplant/chile dip
          11. Laab neua – Northern-style beef laap salad
          12. Kaeng ??? –
          13. Kaeng om – a Northern-style deep meat curry, usually beef with beef offal
          14. Kaeng hangleh – Northern-style (Burmese) meat curry
          15. Kaeng ??? -

          1. re: Nab

            thank you Nab for the report and translation. I'm going to go and see how I fare ordering as an ignorant "outsider.." Sounds different in style and spice than my favorite S & I.

            1. re: teezeetoo

              I really do hope you check it out teezeetoo.

              As always, standard guidelines apply here too - ie, throw in a wai upon entering, order from the Thai menu, order the Thai name of the dish, ask for Thai style and Thai spicy, ask for the condiments, tell them you married into a Thai family, you worked on a farm in Chiang Mai, etc etc etc.

              1. re: Nab

                Just had the best Khao Soi this side of the Rose of the North. Went straight to the kitchen and my "baby-Thai" talk was excepted in the spirit of fun that characterizes the Kon Thai. These folks as it turns out are from near Chiang Rai which is due north of Chiang Mai at the top of the ancient Lanna Kingdom where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet on the Mehkong; the Golden Triangle. Nab gets it right again here; the real deal is on the chalkboard. Two hungry Thaiophiles ate way too much lunch and took most home although the check was small. (i had to check their math). The Khao Soi was indeed proper and the pickled condiments and chili relish were clear notes in this taste of Notthern Thai. Sao Oua was fresh and warm but a bit nuetral without the nOse to tail bits. Got the gaeng lay, Nam Prik, and Larb which was missing the offal and blood yet still a la minute good and redolent of lemongrass and coriander seed. Sadly no beer, no Lao Khao, no green Fanta. Our server Khun Shre explained that the mangoes were not ready for mango sticky rice although the Khao Niao had flecks of purple glutinous grains in the traditional woven cylinders and some dishes like popia tod and tod man were served on miniature kantoke tables. Fun; Sanook!

                1. re: EATTV

                  Northern cuisine being a meaty offal-y kind of fare, I am inclined to give them a call a day or say in advance and order laap khua and gaeng om and such and have them prepare it the wai they do at home. After revisiting the sai oua today, I found the texture to be a bit meatloafy, though the spice blend is good, still needs some kibbles and bits. Glad to hear the khao soi was a winner. Let's comb thru the rest of the menu !

            2. re: Nab

              Okay, prompted by this thread I did a quick lunch there today with Mrs. Stripey.

              We had the Kaeng Hangleh, the Dtam makhya Eggplant Dish, and the Tofu veggie dish from the regular menu.

              Quite honestly the food was superb.

              In my case the Kaeng Hangleh was one of the richest, most succulent dishes I have had this entire year. The chef said it had been simmering for 2+ hours. Meaty rich pork belly in a complex, terribly rich sauce. Mrs. stripes was as blown away as I was.

              The eggplant was fiery and excellent; and the veg tofu dish a wonderful surprise. Delicate, tasty, and chow worthy in it's own right.

              Now on the permanent rotation, and if these dishes are any indication, a strong contender for best Thai in Boston.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                wow. many of my favorite hounds love a place that I used to live 100 yards from. After many year, Oak Square has become a chow destination. I will have to try this soon.

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  I did make it here dining solo before a squad of chowhounds entered. I really liked the Khao Soi, good complex broth with pickled veggies and a building heat that didn't overwhelm the other spicing. Golden bags is an appetizer on the main menu that is just OK. corn and minced chicken wrapped in a wonton wrapper and deep fried. The long closed Swadasee used to have my paragon for this dish. Can't wait to try this place in my old neighborhood again.

                  1. re: gourmaniac

                    Delightful to run into you on that blustery, cold night, and you so generously shared the GB's w/the 1st two of us to arrive. We'll definitely order Khao Soi, that you loved, the next time.

                    1. re: gourmaniac

                      Re: Sawasdee, we used to take our baby there - she's now grown and lives in another state - and the owner would take her from us and play with her while we ate. One time, he bounced her on his knee while he paid bills. He also told me Thai eggplant costs too much for me to waste, so I ate it.

                  2. re: StriperGuy

                    Excellent !

                    "Meaty rich pork belly in a complex, terribly rich sauce."

                    Wait till ya pull that curry out of the fridge the next day - yowsas !

                    1. re: Nab

                      What, you are not a fan of 2 inches of congealed fat?

                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      I ordered way too much for 2 but the Gaeng Hanglae was even better the next day. Let's go back and delve.. Aharn aroi!

                    3. re: Nab

                      Wow, I had pretty much forgotten about this post (and the restaurant, which I never attempted to go eat at). Thanks! Now when can I PayPal you to publish a full printed Thai-next-to-English just-point-to-order menu?

                      1. re: Nab

                        number 12 is soup with some type of green vegetable (bitter melon?) and number 15 is bamboo shoot soup

                        1. re: galangatron

                          thanks GT ! what have you enjoyed on their menu so far ?

                          also, I'm pretty sure now that #6 is NOT khanom jeen (vermicelli noodle) of any kind.

                          1. re: Nab

                            number 6 is nam prik ong. number 8 is khanom jeen

                    4. I hope they get local support. I know the area and not there aren't many reasons to drive there.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: libertywharf

                        Did a search - the #57 bus goes right by (Kenmore-Watertown). Easy access for me! :D Can't wait to try it!!

                      2. Just sitting here snacking on the leftover Dtam makhya (smoky charred eggplant dip) and thought I'd post a couple of pictures. Can't add much to the descriptions above, but I tried the Khao Soi too and found their version to be very good indeed, if a little bit sweet. I especially liked that they used bone-in chicken and that the broth had a really nice slow-building fire in with all that coconut creaminess. Khao Soi was served with a chili paste for stirring in to zip things up. I didn't catch the name of that one but it is so toasted as to be almost black.

                        Very promising first visit. They have EXCELLENT sticky rice too. The sweet lady suggested I try a Chiang Mai style curry next visit and I do believe I will.

                        (Khao Soi, Dtam makhya, and crummy one of the mystery chili paste -- name please?)

                        1. Just finished lunch at Thai North - I tried the khao soi, and it was excellent. Portion was really huge - flat noodles in the soup along with bean sprouts and pickled vegetable, topped with lots of crispy noodles, and one bone-in leg of chicken. The chicken was fall-off-the bone tender, and my main complaint is that there was only one piece! I would have liked more, since the chicken meat was really flavorful. The broth was spicy (already close to my limit, so I couldn't really add any of the dark chili paste). I did not find the broth to be sweet, just a mild coconut flavor which was to be expected.

                          I am pretty excited to go back here soon and try the rest of the Thai menu. Also, very excited in general to know about this place! Thanks hounds!

                          1. We tried this place last weekend. The Kao Soi was wonderful, but the other two dishes, Nam Prik Ong and Gaeng Hung Le, were VERY sweet.

                            1. I got takeout from here two days ago...khao soi and my DC got Siam Fried Rice. Khao soi was great! I felt the Siam Fried Rice was just ok...a little too 'wet' in my opinion, but I have no basis of authenticity.

                              I snapped a picture of their (latest?) thai menu, with their english names. I was too hungry to snap pictures of the food ;)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: chowda

                                Glad that they translated the Thai menu into English. I guess enough people were asking!

                                Now i just wish they would provide the transliteration too, since I am not even sure which item on that list is the Kao Soi

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  khao soi is the tenth dish down from the top. you can also ask for it by name

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    On the English menu, it looked like it was Chiang Mai Noodle Soup. Just like galandatron, I just asked for 'khao soi' and they had no issues.

                                2. Following up with a further dive into Northern Thai affairs ...

                                  Gaeng om - my understanding of Northern-style gaeng om is that it's a rich, beefy stew made bitter with bile and other beef bits, aggressively spiced with chiles and peppercorns/prickly ash. This was not that. This was a very clean broth, slightly sour, slightly spicy, and made slightly beefy by the addition of rosy rare beef chunks that poached in the broth. Which was also loaded with a bright crisp garden of veggies. It's a terrific soup, and a nice dish to offset a meal of other fiery and bold dishes.

                                  Laap khua - cooked pork laap, where all kinds of piggy parts are boiled, hacked up and fried with a bunch of spices. The spices comprise a heady mix of mace, coriander seeds, cardamom, etc all freshly roasty and toasty, along with a handful of dry roasted chiles. The result is an intensely deep and meaty dish, though not gamey/offal-y, it's a mix of meat textures cooked in an absolutely sensational spice combination.

                                  Som tam - papaya salad with pickled swimmer crabs. The crabs get pounded with the rest of the ingredients and make this a bracing, briny somtam with a good fire.

                                  Nam prik noom - pounded chile dip is also excellent and made for a nice eye-opener on my morning toast the next day.

                                  Nam prik ong - ground pork and tomato dip. This was offered as they'd informed me that they tinkered with the recipe since my last visit - specifically, they've been able to source the fermented soybean cake (tua nao) or a Vietnamese analog, and I noticed it was much more rounded in flavour this go around.

                                  It's a real treat to have these traditional Northern dishes around town that, otherwise, are not easy to come by around the country. The care and craft of the kitchen is becoming more apparent with each visit. Time to dig deeper into the menu.

                                  *NOTE: laap khua should be ordered a day in advance*

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Nab

                                    nab, your informative menu and photos continue to reflect on you as the ideal CH in my book. Thanks so much for the education.I hope someone will call a CHdown at this place; i bet it would draw alot of folks.

                                  2. My daughter and I checked this place out last week and had a great meal. Didn't know about/see the board until we were leaving, so we ordered off the regular menu. A mango shrimp dish was wonderful and spicy, and we had a noodle dish that I can't recall the name of. Everything was fresh and lovingly prepared. The room is small and very cold when that doors opens, but worth it for the quality! Next time we'll be hitting up some of those board specials!

                                    1. In addition to khao soi, Thai North also has the other famous noodle, khanom jeen - fermented rice vermicelli noodles. On this occasion I had khanom jeen nam yaa, more of a Central Thai dish, which is a light coco-milk fish curry made with ground fish, fishballs, ginger, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste, fish sauce, chiles, etc. It's accompanied by a platter of fixins for mixin - including basil, bean sprouts, chopped long beans and pickled mustard. It's an excellent dish, one I am keeping in the hopper for those days requiring a lighter Thai meal.

                                      Next time I will order khanom jeen nam ngiaw, which is a classic Northern noodle, made without coconut milk and instead with blood and pork guts.

                                      1. Just ate lunch there and had the Northern Thai Pork Salad, stunning melange garnished with bits of crackling, I WANT MORE NOW! Really a superb dish, and the owner wasn't even in the kitchen.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Nice - last time I was there (coupla weeks ago), they had both the beef & pig laab khua salads on offer without advance ordering, I got the beef this time which was spectacular, as is the duck laab. The mangoes they have on hand these days are also pretty killer.

                                          1. re: Nab

                                            Agreed: the duck larb is spectacular. Such nice people, too.


                                            1. re: Nab

                                              Those laabs have been on the chalkboard the last few times I''ve been. As long as we're at it, the "grilled puerco" and and the northern herb fish were both totally worthwhile. And all the dips w/vegetables & pork rinds. Note that the chalkboard items are made to order and can be slow, so plan on extra time. The dips especially. But I had understood that if you wanted all the pig bits, advance ordering was the way to go. Has that changed?

                                              1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                hey AT - I think it's still good practice to call in advance to be sure. I rolled the dice that day and they happened to have all the bits on hand (both beef & pork), but I can't say that it's a sure thing on any given day.

                                                I had a dish recently that was perhaps the "northern herb fish", but I'm not quite sure. It was described to me as "ab-bplaa" which I know to be a Northern dish, fish wrapped in banana-leaves and grilled, but this was a preparation in liquid, I think braised, with tons of herbs, galangal, and chiles. An excellent dish, but I'm still not exactly sure what it was.

                                                1. re: Nab

                                                  I also have a tip, which is if you want to go with a group, give them some notice and the owner will be sure to be in the kitchen. Sometimes here presence can make a big difference, though yesterday she was not present and the food was still excellent. As I understand it, regardless she is usually there in the evenings on the later side, nightly.

                                                  1. re: Nab

                                                    That's the "northern herb fish" (or something like that) on the special menu.

                                                2. re: Nab

                                                  Agreeing on the duck laab and the current batch of mangoes (was there recently). Khao soi still great and I liked the flavors in the "Chaingmai Rice Vermicelli," a different presentation than the regular "Rice vermicelli/meat sauce." I'm still working on mapping Thai transliterations to the restaurant's English translations, but it's been a tasty process.

                                                  The new (to me) pictures on the wall of their northern specialties were handy and got my dining companion to order the "Northern Thai Meat BBQ," which may be the same as the chalkboard's "Grilled Puerco." In any case, it was a mess o' perfectly-grilled pork with a tangy dipping sauce and made a great start to the meal.

                                              2. They're now closed Mondays, not sure how recent that is.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                  Been that way since early days. I know, because I remember driving out there all excited on a Monday to find it closed. Grrr. It says so on their website now, but I think it didn't used to.

                                                  My Plan B was to head to Jasmine Bistro for some gulyas: closed on Mondays, too! I ended up at Lone Star Taco Bar, which I thought was pretty good of its kind, though its kind is not my favorite kind of taco joint.


                                                2. Adding to database: #4 on CURRENT blackboard menu (see their website), Pork Curry with Vegetables, was chunks of belly pork, a lot of various vegetables (the ones that come with the dips) and some cellophane noodles in a small amount of thin, slightly coconutty broth with very good flavor and just a hint of chili. I enjoyed it but it's not on the top of my list for a re-try. What I always forget is to look at the daily specials board, usually 3 things--today pork leg and rice, a "pink" seafood noodle soup that looked interesting (after I'd already ordered), and a custard dessert dish that I've forgotten.
                                                  ETA: Available with alternate meats, but I think pork is the way to go.

                                                  1. So I was craving some northern thai food and found this place on yelp, ended up ordering a bunch of stuff off the blackboard menu:

                                                    TN7 Pork Larb - Awesome, one of the best larb I've ever had

                                                    TN8 Duck Larb - meh, didn't really like the flavor/texture, I'll stick to my cantonese roast duck for my duck fix

                                                    TN1 Burmese pork curry - even though it was only a pint container, it was jam packed with pork and oh so delicious. Highly recommended.

                                                    TN16 Chiang Mai Noodle Curry - Best version I've had yet. So so so tasty.

                                                    TN14 Chiang Mai Rice Vermicelli - real homey tasting, I can imagine eating this everyday. Flavor was nice and mellow (compared to other thai food)

                                                    TN18 Chiang Mai Sausage - not bad, nicely spiced, but I don't know if I'll order it again because it wasn't too mind blowing

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: divinebaboon

                                                      If you're looking for a good duck larb, highly recommend the one at S&I in Allston.

                                                      1. re: VintageMolly

                                                        ohh ok, I've had their chicken one and thought it was ok, will give the duck a try, thanks

                                                        1. re: divinebaboon

                                                          Generally, I think the rule for ordering at S&I is to ignore everything that's on the English paper menu they give you and order off the pictures on the wall, unless you speak Thai and can order off the Thai language menu. Everything that I've ordered there off the paper menu has been weak American Thai, everything off the pictures has been up there with the best Thai I've had (and I've eaten at Lotus of Siam and Jitlada).

                                                          The chicken larb is on the English menu, the duck larb is on the picture menu - you do the math.

                                                          1. re: VintageMolly

                                                            I agree with this strategy at S&I, noting that often you will have to be insistent when they try to talk you out of ordering the more traditional Thai specialties. (Or at least I do.)


                                                    2. Is there anything on their non-blackboard menu that's worth ordering? I keep throwing in some variant of pad thai or drunken noodles along with the authentic stuff, and it rarely works out. The Chiang Mai Rice Vermicelli made me pretty happy today though. Also tried the Northern (northeastern?) Salad rather than the Northern Pork Salad I usually get and liked it, though I think the latter is better.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: rosulate

                                                        It's been two years since I ordered from the regular menu, when I was reviewing Thai North for Stuff Magazine, and that was an ownership and chef change ago. I thought it was typical Americaized Central Thai: not bad, but not noteworthy. I haven't bothered with anything but the blackboard items and specials since.