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Thai Taste by Kob, Wheaton

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Marty L. Feb 26, 2014 12:03 PM

Doesn't this sound amazing, from Todd Kliman? If you've been, please report back here.

Thai Taste by Kob, Wheaton
On a three-block stretch of Wheaton, near the intersection of University Blvd. and Georgia Ave., can be found two of the area's best Thai restaurants -- Ruan Thai and Nava Thai. Time to add a third. Phak Duangchandr -- Kob, to friends -- has set up shop in the tiny space that originally contained Nava, in the back of Hung Phat market. Thai food fans may remember her, or at least her cooking; for 19 years she operated the Thai Food Carryout at Thai Market, near the old Safeway in Wheaton. The new setting, electrified with a paint job of orange and day-glo green, gives her a chance to expand her repertoire of dishes, while staying true to the from-scratch traditions that earned her a devoted following. The emphasis is on street food and homecooking, with a good many dishes you simply won't find anywhere else, like bamee moo daeng, a meal-in-a-bowl of tender egg noodles, red-edged roast pork, baby bok choy, and fish balls; or kai yad sai, an omelette stuffed with ground chicken punched up with fish sauce, soy; or a salad of shrimp paste-flavored rice, onions, cucumber and sweet, sticky pork). But even familiar tastes, taste different here -- funkier, more pungent, and definitely hotter (a shrimp fried rice, alive with fistfuls of Thai basil and a generous pinch of chilis, set my heart to racing). Some customers have already been asking for more rice to accompany their orders. Partner and manager Max Praserptmate says he is willing to accommodate any requests, but adds that his aunt's cooking is not the aberration; it's the great majority of Thai restaurants that are the aberration. "The taste," he says, "is what you're supposed to get from your Thai food."
Duangchandr imports her spices from Thailand and toasts and grinds them herself. All the condiments on the spice tray, including a terrific chili vinegar, are made on the premises. Meats are given a long soak before hitting the grill -- 72 hours, in the case of the pork that is pounded and threaded onto a skewer to create a must-order starter called moo yang. The other must-order starter sure doesn't sound like it: when was the last time you had fried shrimp wontons that were any good? These are great. Kiew tod comes to the table looking more like a plate of tortilla chips, the mix of shrimp and white pepper bundled within a sneakily rolled edge. The crunch is junk food-loud; it's hard not to believe they weren't engineered in a lab. No beer or wine yet; partner; Praserptmate says soon on both. I would take the money you'd ordinarily spend on a drink and spring for an extra dish or two (most are under $10, and many items will survive into the next day).

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    eroica38 Feb 26, 2014 09:25 PM

    I have been there twice for lunch now. Quite a good experience both times. Friendly helpful staff, broad menu with many items new to me. I highly recommend it.

    FWIW my last two meals at Nava Thai were not good at all - bland dishes that arrived cold and indifferent service. I shall not go back to Nava Thai.

    6 Replies
    1. re: eroica38
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      Steve Feb 27, 2014 06:03 AM

      What did you eat? Anything to recommend? What was new to you? How familiar are you with Thai food to begin with?

      Since you are new to Chowhound, let me say that more specific information is always better than a quick blanket statement.

      The Floating Market Noodle Soup at Nava Thai is not bland, I can assure you. That's the thing to get.

      1. re: Steve
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        wineo1957 Feb 27, 2014 07:56 PM

        The last time I had the floating Market Soup at Nava Thai, it was hot. Bland in other flavors, meats dry and boring and of low quality. The Som Tum was watery, the tomatoes unacceptably unripe.

        I have had 3 bad meals in a row with rude service. Put me in eroica38's camp

        1. re: wineo1957
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          Marty L. Feb 28, 2014 04:15 AM

          Walk next door to Thai Taste by Kob -- just tried it last night and can't wait to return.

          1. re: Marty L.
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            Steve Feb 28, 2014 04:46 AM

            Details?!?

        2. re: Steve
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          eroica38 Feb 28, 2014 07:50 PM

          At my last visit to Nava Thai my wife and I had a sizzing beef appetizer - it was not bland but it arrived stone cold, it was sent back and it returned warm and like shoeleather. Likely nuked. For mains we had stir fried duck with crispy basil - tough dried out meat, soggy basil and low intensity spicing - we also had pad thai w/shrimp - bland almost cold and tough shrimp. We were not happy and left over much of the meal. Waiter was indifferent and absent.

          As to Thai Taste, I have had Pad Prik Khing , Pad Kaprow, Pad ma Maung Himmapan - a new dish to me and very good - plus Gaeng Pa Curry - also a new dish. Each time I have been to Thai Taste the food and service have been tops. I have put them on my lunch list and will quietly work my way through their menu.

          1. re: eroica38
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            Steve Feb 28, 2014 09:29 PM

            Thanks for the reply.

            Gaeng pa is called jungle curry on other Thai menus. Thin sauce, no coconut, usually very spicy. Pad ma Maung Himmapan is chicken with cashews.

      2. Chocolatechipkt Feb 27, 2014 07:48 AM

        http://thaitastebykob.com/

        I went last week and am already planning on going back soon. The menu is pretty long, but there are a number of interesting "street" dishes I'd like to try. Both my meal and the service were very good. I don't have the menu in front of me (and can't find it on the web site), but I had the fried rice with sausage, which was excellent, and a rice noodle dish with beef and vegetables. I got a Thai iced coffee to go (theirs is good and cheap), and it came with a little carrying sling ... very useful.

        And after you go there, go to Hung Phat and get their fresh rice noodles for cooking at home. They're so good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chocolatechipkt
          Chocolatechipkt Feb 27, 2014 07:29 PM

          Fwiw, since I have the menu here now, I had the pad haeng (stir-fried flat rice noodles in hot wok til a little smoky with light soy sauce, egg, preserved cabbage, and scallions, and I added beef) and the Thai sausage fried rice (stir fried rice with thai sausage, egg, onion, tomato, and scallions)

        2. KWagle Mar 4, 2014 01:05 AM

          Is there a menu on that Web page?

          1 Reply
          1. re: KWagle
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            joyousle Mar 4, 2014 07:40 AM

            It was really hard to find, but here it is. http://media.29prime.com/Files/Upload...

          2. Mister Big Mar 5, 2014 05:46 AM

            Ate there last night. Good value on the dinner deal. Salad, soup, two spring rolls, entree, and soda for $10.99. My entree was Duck Kaprow. Nothing was outstanding, and certainly not better than Nava in its heyday, but quite serviceable, nonetheless. Good service, and nice people.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mister Big
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              Lori D Mar 5, 2014 07:40 AM

              I ate there on Sunday. A spicy rice noodle dish (whose name I forgot) and spring rolls. I would like to point out that the fried spring rolls that I ordered were made with rice paper. That is supposed to be the traditional way to make them in Thai cooking, but many (if not most) restaurants use wonton wrappers, which are wheat flour-based. Many won't care about that, but, since I am on a gluten free diet, that was a very nice surprise. (Unlike many who are gluten free, I do tolerate soy sauce with wheat, so I don't try to avoid that in restaurants, and my experience may not be applicable for someone who needs to be that strict.)

              I liked the rice noodle dish a great deal. I still prefer my current favorite (vegetarian drunken noodles at Elephant Jumps), but this was quite good, and I imagine that I will return.

              1. re: Mister Big
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                mscoffee1 Mar 5, 2014 08:41 AM

                I had duck, too and agree it was serviceable (good word), it did have some a excellent array of vegetables that were cooked nicely. I also had some a flat noodle dish that was fine, but a little boring.

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