Ok all....this is my first post ever to the board, so forgive me if I make any etiquette mistakes. I also apologize to the group at the dinner last night as I can't recall all the new names I had to learn -- hopefully the participants will chime in so that I have a reminder of who all was there. I have been lurking for some months now, but last night I joined the crowd at Dok Bua because I couldn't pass up a chance to have such a great Thai dinner. Being the first of the group to arrive, I quickly positioned myself at the center of the long table. This presumptuous move by an unknown hound (ok, I admit I crowned myself with the title) garnered me the job, er...honor, of describing the experience. So now I'm at work (pretending to work), peering at a food-stained paper bag that entered Dok Bua carrying a bottle of wine, and left with my frantically scribbled notes about the event all over it.
The Dinner was well paced, at least at first, starting with Miang-Kum, which at Dok Bua is kind of like the country cousin of the version I first encountered down the road at Khao Sarn. This one in big spinach leaves, a good heap of coconut and peanut, the dried shrimp and lime, and the sweet dipping sauce whose only ingredient I was sure of was ground dried shrimp. Then Moo-Yang, like a bit of tender barbecued pork in a sweet tangy sauce. Squid salad, all nice and limey with a good (mild) kick to it and fresh mint. This was excellent. Yum Nua (grilled beef salad), a good rendition of that classic, with lots of nice lemongrass and mint. Then the funky Sub-Noa-Mai (bamboo shoot salad), smelling nicely (?) of fish sauce and fermented bamboo I laughed to think how most of my non-chowish friends would react if this came their way! We had Larb in two versions the chicken, which was standard, and then one with roast duck, which was outstanding, with crispy bits of skin, chewy toasted rice, and a nice afterburn. The best Tod Mun Ive yet had, and I order this everywhere. I suspect its usually from some mass-producer, but these looked and tasted homemade. Great! And then another round of the bamboo shoots just to make sure we all got some! Phew, and this was only the appetizers.
I should note that the heat level was pretty tame throughout, and I kept eyeing the nice condiment tray which held, as I recall, chilis in fish sauce, chilis in vinegar, dried chilis, a sambal-like sauce, and two others I cant recall. I usually dive into these, but seemed to have no time or even idea of where to point them because of the vast quantity of food that came along.
After a short breather, the main courses. Grilled Fish (with a green sauce that looked and tasted a bit like a green tomatillo sauce any ideas? and I think it had been wrapped in a leaf of some kind, maybe banana), Steamed Egg custard with ground pork kind of a Thai version of Chawan Mushi which I thought was great and the kind of homey thing one doesnt usually get in restaurants. There were also steamed and fried fish, but I never got to those. Vegetable Red Curry, which was decent, and then a tasty Yellow Curry with chicken and mango. Fried Soft-shell Crab with another yummy dipping sauce; this was a favorite with everyone I think. Pad Kee Meow (was that what we had? Fried wide rice noddles with veggies and squid). Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli, which is one of those things that pork lovers drool over, the pork with three layers (skin, fat, and meat) and a bit of green to keep you healthy and offset the fattiness. I loved this too. Another crispy one Duck, was also outstanding, and the last, probably my favorite of the main courses, Fried Catfish with kaffir lime leaves, galangal, bamboo shoots. Did we really eat all that? Yep, sure did and then some. It wasn't over yet!
Dessert....sigh. Steamed Sticky Coconut Rice with Mango, which is also a standard, and one that I love though I rarely eat desserts. Better yet, Taro Custard. With that sweet-salty-nutty flavor of taro that I cant resist. That was great, though I admit I fairly ignored the condiment that came with it.
Ok, enough now. It seems we all had a great time I sure did and conversation and the beer and wine (Dok Bua is BYOB) flowed freely. I will definitely join in again, and look forward to whatever surprises come up next time. Thanks everyone, especially the organizers and the great staff at the restaurant.
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