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Many Thai Town comments: duck soups, stewed pork leg, Kruang Tedd, and more

Thi N. | Dec 11, 200302:57 PM

I have been continuing to eat steadily through Thai Town. Further comments:

First, Rodded. I have eaten here a bunch of times now. Comments: firstly, currently the best duck soup in town. Fire and power and delight. Secondly, they will gringo your ass. I'm Asian, and have no problems. But every time I go, and order a soup and my (very white) girlfriend is there, the waitress has a tussle with me about ordering the soup medium spicy ("for her? she like spicy?") and EVERY TIME comes up to her no less than THREE TIMES during the course of the meal and looks at the soup, and gives Amy a good long look, and says, "You like the soup? Not too spicy for you?"). Amy of course says the soup is fine, but, then again, both of us are hissing and sweating and drinking lots of water. This is a medium spicy order.

But my friends who I've sent there report that when they ask for medium spicy, they got non-spicy soup. And this is a problem here, because the soup has that caramel flavor thing going on, and if it isn't spicy than the sweet gets a little overwhelming.

I don't know how to solve this, but I think you'll probably have to tussle with her and, if you aren't Asian, probably have to insist on "very spicy" to get it medium spicy.

And more: while their various noodle salads and stuff are pretty poor, they have really fine won-ton soup. Really. They seem proud of two things: duck-related stuff, and won-ton related stuff. Chicken won ton soup comes with a nice, chicken-y chicken broth and six very succulent wontons. Soft, gentle wrapper, and a firm, fresh-tasting meat center. Nice taste of fresh scallions in the meat.

Commentary: I said a while ago that this soup was the equal of the suaver, ducky Ruen Pair duck soup. RFGS hit up RP and said the duck soup was unducky. And you know what? I went back there a few days ago and everything else was as grand as usual, except the duck soup. Which was completely unducky in the broth.


Second: Siam Sunset. Following miffy's suggestion, had their stewed pork leg. This is much like those caramel-y Vietnamese hot pots from my childhood. A big plate of rice topped with a whole mess of stuff - pork leg slices and egg and, er, mustard pickle?, and little odd things, all stewed together. The taste of the sauce is very pleasant, sweet and porky, and the mustard pickle stewed in pork is a deep, high-low flavor hit. Best of all: sauce that comes on the side, which is a perfect clean sourness, lit through with fresh chili. Doused over the pork: super. Main weakness of the dish: pork itself was mellow but not intensely porky in the way that good stewed pork can sometimes be.

Good stuff. Not holy. But very satisfying.

You better like pork skin, though.

Third: Kruang Tedd. The only true and full disappointment of Thaitown. Went with Amy on a Friday night, started with two of their supposed specialties - "seafood muffins" and Issan-style beef jerky. Seafood muffins were soft and custardy with bits of seafood, much like a cambodian amok royale.

Anyway: crap. Seafood itself was kind of stale and chewy. The custard it was served in had all sorts of Thai spices, lots of them, but all the spices were stale. Same with the unpleasantly chewy beef. It tasted like... it tasted like a once good chef had designed some good dishes, dishes with subtlety and goodness, laid down his proportions, and then left. And somebody's there in the kitchen, following those recipes that have some structure and delicacy in them, and using old spices, slipshod technique, just destroying it. Clearly aimed at gourmet style - in its desire and design, the only high-end place in ThaiTown - but destroyed by lack of care. "The flavor," comments Amy, "was very superficial." It had more flavor-concepts in each bite, but bad, weak ginger is bad, weak ginger.

I can imagine Renu Nakorn being like this in 10 years. Renu Nakorn is now two years along a decline. When I started eating there, it was excellent - subtle, all kinds of clever nuances in the cooking, overwhelmingly fresh, beautiful. Now - it feels like the chef has left the kitchen, and everything is slowly falling to crap. It's still better than any of the ThaiTown places, but it feels like the soul is gone and in a few years...

Anyway, yeah. I hated Kruang Tedd. We cancelled our entrees and left - that's the only time I've done that in this city.

I'll post up the overall scoresheet in a second.


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