Run on down to Thai House Express on Castro (probably on Geary and Larkin too) and get the pork leg stew right now. Wow! It was the best thing Ive eaten in recent memory.
Ive been trying to branch out from the usual Pad Thai, Red, Green, Yellow Curry, Tom Ka Gai. You get the picture. I was looking at this dish on the menu, intrigued, but had decided not to order it because Id just made a pork roast with sauerkraut in my crock pot (see home cooking).
The waiter recommended it so we ordered it anyway. It wasnt a stew in the usual sense. No gravy/sauce, no vegetables cooked with. It was almost surely braised. I was expecting a shank-like presentation, but it was boneless. The meat was tender and shredded and absolutely full of melt-in-the mouth succulent yumminess. It was browned a bit and there was lots of flavor from liberal fat, but the fat was very easy to avoid if you dont like that sort of thing. The proportion of fat to meat was fine. The flavors were deep and rich. I could detect subtle hints of sweet spices. Think about a big ole pile of the very best carnitas ever, but with Southeast Asian flavors. It was served over rice with a sauce on the side to pour over that Im pretty sure was simply fish sauce, sugar and chopped chilies. This dish is a steal at under $10. Cant remember, but I think it was about $8.95.
We also had the papaya salad with salted crab. Another new dish for us. Usually we get it with the dried shrimp. I didnt know what to do with the hard, dark red bits of crab legs, so I decided to suck on them. There was a thin, dark liquid that was very fish sauce-like inside. I asked the Thai waiter if thats what I was supposed to do with the crab and he said yes, but that I was more Asian than him, which of course made me feel like a very good chowhound. He than told me that the salted crab is more Lao than Thai. I remember recent threads on this board about Laotian food and it made me wonder if other dishes on this restaurants menu are Lao. Anyone know?
Im hoping that pork dish is consistently good at both branches of this restaurant because I think it has to go into the regular craving rotation. And I hope other hounds will enjoy it as much as I did.