A pile up in last Fridays storm forced me to route through San Bruno to get home. Remembering Pias rec for Thai Nakorn (linked below), I stopped for dinner before slogging back to the City.
One of the specials of the day was catfish salad, $8.95, which I ordered. And, as a back up, in case it was a bust, also the tom yum noodle soup, $5.95, to take the chill off.
The noodle soup was expertly constructed with a pile of bean sprouts forming a base on the bottom of the bowl submerged in the steaming soup to wilt/cook with the residual heat. Fine egg noodles (or you can choose rice noodles) topped this, swirled and folded attractively into a skein. Meats were coarse ground chicken, rubbery and pale white fish balls, and thin slices of fried fish cakes. Chopped scallions, fried shallot slivers, cilantro leaves, salty bits of pickled cabbage hearts, lemongrass, and ground peanuts completed the picture. Obviously prepared with care, the hot and sour soup had a lot going on. It was well-spiced to build an inner warmth, but a bit too candied sweet and not sour enough for my taste even after adding the squirt of lime.
While the soup was merely good, the catfish salad was a stand-out. Golden brown deep-fried puffy masses of catfish filaments floated on a mound of shredded iceberg lettuce and multi-colored garnishes. The lacy and dry crisp texture of the catfish was utterly fascinating with a light crunch that had just the slightest chewiness in the last bite that gave away its fish protein origin. Completely non-greasy and ethereal, it was hard to believe that this had been fried. And, even when drenched with dressing, it stayed completely crisp and airy. Toasted cashews, very fine and precisely even slivers of apple, shaved sweet onions, cilantro, lemon grass, and more were pulled together with a perfectly balanced, medium spicy lime and fish sauce dressing. I cant wait to have this again.
Thai Nakorn Restaurant
464 San Mateo Ave.
Open 11am to 10pm