HOME > Chowhound > Dallas - Fort Worth >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Where is the best TOM KHA??

n
neilmcginnis Aug 30, 2013 07:47 AM

First things first; Yes I did do some searching in old posts and found information but there were conflicting reports and I need to know where I should go to get this delicacy. I am going tomorrow.
I have never even had the soup but I have heard so many positive reviews of it that I must go try it and if i'm going all the way to Dallas to try it then I want it to be the best possible version of the soup. On a side note I also need to know what else to order that's good at said place you recommended.
: )
Specific enough? lol

  1. m
    Mike C. Miller Sep 2, 2013 04:47 PM

    With this thread in mind, I had dinner at Si Lom last night -- my first -- and ordered the Tom Kha . I'd have to pronounce a mixed verdict between it and the Tom Kha at Bangkok City, with the slight nod to BC.

    First the Tom Kha. I was asked, much to my pleasure, how spicy I wanted it on a scale of 1-5. Being a bit adventurous, I opted for four. When it came, it was hardly spicy at all. I'd have given it a 1.5, tops on a 1-5 scale. So we told the waiter to make our entrees a 5 as we had ordered them to be a 4 also. After much back and forth with the kitchen, we were discouraged and settled on a 4. (More on the entrees in a moment. For now, back to the soup.) It had a very nice flavor, and the chicken was indeed more tender than that at Bangkok City. But the richness of the broth wasn't quite the same, and Bangkok City's was both more spicy (though not asked for how spicy) and had more lemon grass and cilantro. So despite the somewhat rubbery chicken, my nod goes to BC.

    When the entrees came at spice level 4, I rapidly became apparent that perhaps the kitchen just overlooked the request for spice level 4 on the soup. Spice level 4 was quite spicy enough. In fact, it was damned hot. (5 had been described at "Thai hot" and the looks from the staff carried the implicit message, "No, you really don't want five, no DO you??!!" And they were correct.) Although I enjoyed the very spicy entrees, I think a three is more in my wheelhouse for the next visit.

    My entree was the roast duck with basil, a dish I often get at Bangkok City. I deliberately got a same dish so I could compare apples to apples, so to speak. Again, I thought that Bangkok City had the better of the two dishes, this time by a wider margin. Their version of the duck dish comes with a very crispy skin on the duck. No so at Si Lom. However, my girlfriend's fish dish, a special of the night, was very good. Crisp fish (talapia, not catfish) with a sweet and HOT garlic infused sauce. I thought the heat matched up on her dish a bit better than mine.

    Service was excellent. When we qurried our waiter while pondering what to order what type of sauce was on the fish -- described only as "special sauce" on the printed daily special menu -- he disappeared for a bit, but came back with a sample of the sauce prepared by the chef and two small plastic tasting spoons. Why describe it when you can taste it and decide if you like it!! Very nice and accommodating.

    Despite my slight preference for Bangkok City on two dishes, I'll certainly be back to Si Lom as it's a bit closer for us and the food seems genuinely good and the service is excellent. But I'll by no means abandon Bangkok City, either. They turn out equally delicious food and take great care of you, too. You can't loose either way. Prices seem a bit lower at Bangkok City, thought both are reasonable.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Mike C. Miller
      twinwillow Sep 2, 2013 05:56 PM

      Thanks, Mike for your enlightening report.

      And In lieu of your above report, I will have to visit Bangkok City once again. It was our "go to" Thai restaurant until we found Si Lom. Which, is also closer to me.

      Btw, I'm not as much as a heat fanatic as you and others seem to be. As a matter of fact, I've always found the food at Bangkok City can easily become too hot for my taste.

      Also, as I've never had the basil roast duck breast at BC, I'm now very eager to try it. Your mention of it's crispy skin makes it very appealing to me. Thank you.

      1. re: Mike C. Miller
        f
        foiegras Sep 2, 2013 07:00 PM

        Isn't the spice level of the soup totally fixable at the table with chile paste? With, say, a noodle dish, I'm quite irritated to have the paste brought out & be told to fix it myself ... but I find it works perfectly with soup.

        1. re: foiegras
          twinwillow Sep 2, 2013 07:47 PM

          That's the way I like to control the heat level of my Pho. Which is ordinarily not (spicy) hot. I find most people like using Siracha. I prefer the flavor of chili garlic sauce for heat.

          1. re: twinwillow
            n
            neilmcginnis Sep 3, 2013 08:23 AM

            Both of those totally change the flavors of the soup and I don't like that at all personally. I am not saying I don't love sriracha but to put it on pho then all you taste is the sriracha or chili paste. You guys are the experts and i'm taking your advice but I'm bucking the system on this one : )
            All the subtle flavors of Pho would be masked and then you have a sriracha soup. I have sriracha and chili paste at home I don't want that when i'm out at a restaurant.

            1. re: neilmcginnis
              twinwillow Sep 3, 2013 08:33 AM

              Mind you, I only add about a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic chili sauce to my Pho. More for the heat than the taste.

              1. re: twinwillow
                n
                neilmcginnis Sep 3, 2013 08:41 AM

                Maybe I got carried away when I did it..

              2. re: neilmcginnis
                f
                foiegras Sep 3, 2013 10:41 AM

                You can see the chile paste in Tom Kha if you order it with any heat. If they do it to my liking, I don't add any, but if not, I do.

                I don't add anything to pho, but I'll also admit I don't order it much. Mostly because I find it messy to eat, and also not terribly exciting. I like to eat very long noodles and very soupy soup in the privacy of my own home :) You may well be right about the subtlety of this soup.

            2. re: foiegras
              n
              neilmcginnis Sep 3, 2013 08:36 AM

              I personally do not usually like adding spice into my food after it has been cooked. Like sriracha or chili paste.. I can tell that they spice up their soup, and maybe everything else, with tiny orange bits of habanero pepper and that is how I like it because it does not add additional flavor aside from the heat. Chili paste will alter the flavor profile

            3. re: Mike C. Miller
              n
              neilmcginnis Sep 3, 2013 05:25 AM

              Yea I ordered a spice level 5 on tom kha and it still was not spicy but the green curry a slice level 3 was perfectly spiced. So i see what you are saying and have experienced the same although did not have Bangkok city to compare it to. I will go there next. You should have tried their pad se ew or something like that. Delicious. I'm trying a level 4 on that next time. It appears that no matter how you ask for the level of spice in the Tom Kha they do not change it.. Next time I was planning to say level 7 just to see if it would even change. But based on your information I will check out Bangkok city next.. Do you think that is better than Bambu? (I already created a new thread about that so please respond there if you have any info)

              1. re: neilmcginnis
                m
                Mike C. Miller Sep 5, 2013 12:56 AM

                Haven't tried Bambu.

            4. m
              Mike C. Miller Aug 30, 2013 02:01 PM

              I haven't tried Si Lom, and like you have heard good things about it. But among those I've tried, I'm quite fond of the Tom Kha at Bangkok City. Very rich broth, good and spicy. The only flaw is that if you get it with chicken, the meat is a bit rubbery. Not a problem if you get the shrimp.

              18 Replies
              1. re: Mike C. Miller
                n
                neilmcginnis Aug 30, 2013 02:24 PM

                Well thanks for actually responding to my post since nobody else is. lol.
                Ok so maybe that is where I will check it out.. Thanks.

                1. re: Mike C. Miller
                  twinwillow Aug 30, 2013 04:48 PM

                  The chicken in the Tom Kha coconut soup at
                  Si Lom is not overcooked and rubbery I'm happy to say. The shrimp option ($2.00 extra) is very nice.

                  1. re: twinwillow
                    f
                    foiegras Aug 30, 2013 05:25 PM

                    I really would like to understand what's up with the rubber chicken. You really have to work to get chicken that texture, I think ... I suspect a microwave or something could be involved.

                    1. re: foiegras
                      twinwillow Aug 30, 2013 06:51 PM

                      That could very well be in many of the Thai restaurants that I have experienced. I think a good chef would add the chicken as he or she is heating up the soup. After all, how long would it take to cook a few lean slivers of lean chicken breast meat?

                      1. re: twinwillow
                        m
                        Mike C. Miller Aug 30, 2013 09:48 PM

                        Sort of what I wondered, too. Poaching a think strip of chicken in hot broth shouldn't take more than a minute or two. My thought was that it was poached well before hand and then added to the broth to be warmed shortly before the soup was served. No raw chicken on your hands so no need to wash before touching an uncooked garnish, etc. But I'm like you, just slip in some strips of chicken and wash your hands real quick.

                        And Neil, as for lack of responses, I can't speak for others, but I only check the board once or twice a week. I'm trying -- largely unsuccessfully -- to spend less time reading on the Internet and more time reading books (on a iPad, strangely enough). The damned thing just seems to take over your life is you let it.

                        1. re: Mike C. Miller
                          f
                          foiegras Aug 31, 2013 08:49 PM

                          Perhaps short cooking time is part of the problem. I find you need to poach chicken for a bit to get it to its full tenderness ... i.e., it is 'done' before it is done.

                          Neil may well be right that what we believe about how chicken should be cooked is not what Thai kitchens believe.

                          1. re: foiegras
                            twinwillow Sep 1, 2013 07:27 AM

                            That's the reason instead of having the chicken with my Tom Kha, I usually order it with shrimp for just two bucks more.
                            Although I will say, the chicken served with the Tom Kha at Si Lom is more tender than other Thai restaurants.

                            1. re: twinwillow
                              n
                              neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 10:10 AM

                              I went to Si Lom Friday night and Saturday night and i may take my mom today. Holy crap it is good. I have had almost every dish people recommended and they are all amazing. I will elaborate tuesday when I'm back at work.

                          2. re: Mike C. Miller
                            n
                            neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 10:13 AM

                            I understand how it is. No complaint from me about lack of comments but people do respond better during work hours which means they should probably be working. Lol

                            1. re: neilmcginnis
                              twinwillow Sep 1, 2013 10:58 AM

                              I'm retired. That's one of the reasons I'm usually here most of the time (LOL).

                              Glad you were pleased with my suggestion of Si Lom for Thai. Did you have the basil garlic roasted duck?

                              1. re: twinwillow
                                n
                                neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 12:20 PM

                                I had fish patties, avocado crab roll, green curry 3, tom kha 5, si lom fried rice 3, Papaya salad, Pad see eew or something like that. I plan to have the duck next.

                                1. re: neilmcginnis
                                  twinwillow Sep 1, 2013 01:09 PM

                                  Did you have the Tom Kha with the chicken? If so, was it tender?

                                  1. re: twinwillow
                                    n
                                    neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 01:59 PM

                                    I tried it with chicken once and shrimp once. The chicken was chewy just as you said. The shrimp wasnt chewy although I would prefer the chicken was soft because I like it's flavor Best. Tom kha was awesome although my favorite flavor was the green curry. Wish the curry was a soup instead.

                                  2. re: neilmcginnis
                                    f
                                    foiegras Sep 1, 2013 06:42 PM

                                    Was the crab actually crab?

                                    1. re: foiegras
                                      n
                                      neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 06:48 PM

                                      In the avocado crab fried spring roll.. now that you mention it I think it was imitation and it was my least favorite dishes although it was fried perfectly.

                                      1. re: neilmcginnis
                                        twinwillow Sep 1, 2013 07:38 PM

                                        Then it was, Krab.

                                  3. re: twinwillow
                                    n
                                    neilmcginnis Sep 1, 2013 12:21 PM

                                    Just remembered wontons and shrimp wrapped in rice paper, delicious too

                          3. re: twinwillow
                            n
                            neilmcginnis Sep 3, 2013 06:44 AM

                            I had it once with chicken and it may not have been rubbery but it was dry and I did not like that part in particular but it was the soup I was interested in anyway.

                        2. n
                          neilmcginnis Aug 30, 2013 07:55 AM

                          I have already seen references to Bambu and Si Lom but I need to know what the consensus is...?

                          Show Hidden Posts