#241: My Thai Kitchen

Tonight I decided it had been far too long since I’ve had Thai food, and there was (possibly) a new place where New Thai Kitchen had been in-between Blue Nami and Paul Martin’s.  I say possibly because it seemed odd to me that one of the absolute best Thai places the area has to offer would go out, but also because My Thai Kitchen reused most of the sign, just swapping “New” with “My” (we have seen this before in Roseville though and not too long ago: Mongolian Bliss changed entirely to Asian Bliss, a very different place; last half of the sign re-used).

I only learned the truth right before I left when I asked the manager/owner-looking woman if it was related, and the answer is yes.  Essentially it is the same place with the same people, with the addition of a head chef.  There seemed to be a little regret in the name change, as she mentioned that a portion of their business dropped off.  People must have thought that it was not the same restaurant anymore.  After doing some digging through their Facebook page history, it seems the name change happened roughly a year ago.  That’s how up on current events I am!

Anyway, with that in mind, I am going to keep this brief.  You can check out my original review of New Thai Kitchen here.  What has changed aside from the name?  Well, they have a much bigger and nicer location than when they first opened (they were over where Trademark Pizza now calls home).

The menu has definitely seen some slight changes.  I can’t tell if the prices have gone up, but they seemed slightly higher than usual for the dishes I ordered ($12 for curry and the same for pad se ew).  Something I liked a lot was that there was a lot of protein options (particularly for the curries, I didn’t think to look at the other items) including lamb and duck.  They came at a premium ($5 extra for the duck), but I love me some duck, so it was happening.  There was even a customizable curry option where you choose the type of curry, your protein, veggies and rice.  Pretty cool.

The food was on point, better than I remembered it being actually, and I loved it before.  The Pad Se Ew was quite simply the best I’ve ever had, in every way.  The noodles were perfect.  The flavor was very rich and the chicken was incredibly flavorful, with a touch of smokey char marks on many pieces from the grill.

I proclaimed before that New Thai Kitchen was my favorite Thai in Roseville, and I stand by that with their new name.  I think it even rivals my all time favorite, Auburn Thai Garden (don’t tell Nu I said that!)

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AM3: Auburn Thai Garden

I happened to go to one of the best Thai restaurants on Monday night so I brought my camera along. The occasion was a birthday party and as a result my attention was not as fully directed at the restaurant as usual. I’ll keep this a little shorter than normal and try to tell you a bit about the place and why I like it.

The restaurant is Auburn Thai Garden located in, you guessed it, Auburn. It’s on 49 just over a half mile north of 80, technically on Palm Ave. I only get a chance to come here maybe a couple times a year and I’m always looking forward to it when I do.

From the get-go it looks like a pretty typical Thai restaurant. This night they were fairly busy all night so I didn’t get a chance to photograph the dining room. It’s basically a small to medium sized rectangular room, nicely decorated and with big windows along the front. These help the room feel more open than even the much larger Ruen Thai, where it can seem like you’re trapped in a box (despite that box being filled with delicious food). In addition to the main dining area, further back and up a small ramp you will find a little room with a few more tables. This is a good spot for a larger party (and where we were sat this night).

Again, it has a lot of what you’d find on the usual Thai restaurant menu. One thing you won’t find anywhere else however is the page-long beer list which starts out ordinary at the top and gradually becomes extraordinary by the time you get to the bottom. Down there you’ll find large craft bottles such as Mirror Mirror (a barleywine from Deschutes), Abyss (a Russian Imperial Stout also from Deschutes) and one of my personal favorites, Parabola (also a Russian Imperial Stout, this one from Firestone Walker). The owner/operator, Nu, is a huge craft beer geek and always has something great to offer on this list (which changes regularly I assume based on availability. Tonight I shared a bottle of Abyss with my friend Justin. It was intensely rich and pretty good, though I would say the Abyss we had on draught at Final Gravity, during their annual Stouterday tap takeover in December, was a lot better.

Tonight we ordered a handful of dishes and a couple appetizers to share. Everything I’ve ever had here has been fantastic and tonight was no exception. Usually one of the items we order is the Crying Tiger (premium tender steak grilled to perfect Med-Rare served on bed of Thai Garden coleslaw drizzle w/ our spicy homemade Thai steak sauce)[$15.95], which is an incredibly succulent steak with a rich and fiery syrup-like sauce over it. Unfortunately they were out tonight so we subbed in an extra curry.

For appetizers we did Gai Satay (grilled skewered strips of tender chicken breast marinated in creamy coconut milk and mild curry powder served w/ out small cucumber salad and house peanut dipping sauce)[$7.95]. These were pretty standard, and by that I mean great slathered in peanut sauce.

The other appetizer was Pot Stickers (pan seared chicken & vegetable filled pot stickers served w/ our sweet ginger soy sauce)[$7.95]. Like the chicken satay this was pretty similar to most pot stickers you can get at the average Thai restaurant. Tasty but nothing to write home about.

One of our regular orders is their Green Avocado Curry (tender sliced chicken breast w/ avocado, green beans, bamboo shoots, eggplant, bell pepper and basil simmered in our creamy green coconut curry)[$12.95]. This is always the first to be devoured and it’s the best green curry I’ve had anywhere, it’s flavorful and amazingly smooth and creamy. I wish I was eating some right now.

It’s rarely a Thai dinner with me if there’s no Pad Se Ew (stir fried wide rice noodles w/ sliced chicken breast, egg, broccoli, carrots, and caramelized garlic in our tangy sweetened dark soy sauce)[$9.95], so that was our second item. Once again, simply some of the best of this dish I’ve had. Incredibly flavorful with plenty of the rich sauce and the noodles were cooked perfectly, slick with dark sauce and not a single pair stuck together.

Our last item, and the one we got instead of the Crying Tiger, was the Rambutan Curry (Rambutan w/ sliced chicken breast, pineapple, tomato, green bean, eggplant, carrot, bell pepper and basil leaves simmered in homemade red coconut curry)[$13.95]. This one was a first for us all. We didn’t have a clue what rambutan meant. Once we received the dish and were serving ourselves we started to question what the small round objects were. They almost looked like little onions. The server happened to be by us filling waters so we asked and she told us the rambutan is a fruit. Indeed it had a sweet flavor to it and was quite juicy, though I would still say texture was closer to an onion. This curry was fantastic and, with the rambutan and pineapple, much sweeter and more tropical feeling than the green avocado curry. I’d definitely order it again as I also love red curry.

For dessert, and they have a pretty good selection compared to most Thai places, we did the Fried Banana A La Mode.  It is basically slices of banana in spring roll-like wrapping fried crisp and served with two big scoops of vanilla ice cream.  These were still quite warm when we got them and needed a little bit of time to cool off.  They were excellent.  I’m not sure what kind of ice cream they get but it’s pretty creamy and rich, and goes great with the banana.

Overall, as usual, a stellar visit to Auburn Thai Garden. I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s bit of a haul up 80, but it might just be with the 40 minute round trip. Better yet, just plan to go here the next time you pass through Auburn.

(so much for keeping it short)

#204: Bhan Thai

Yesterday evening I was in the mood for Thai.  I had a small lunch and was already hungry on my drive home from work.  Once home, I didn’t waste much time before grabbing my camera and heading out to Roseville’s newest Thai restaurant, Bhan Thai.  Bhan Thai is located on Cirby at Rocky Ridge and in the same building as Cool River Pizza, just on the other side.  They’ve been open for a little over a month now.

I showed up pretty early at about 4:30.  After taking a moment to photograph the exterior, I headed in.  The inside is nice looking, though a bit oddly laid out.  I’m not sure what business was here before but I got the impression that maybe it was a coffee house or something.  There is a counter in front as you walk in where they have placed seats.  I bet baristas worked on the other side.  In the opposite corner of the restaurant, where I ended up sitting, looked like it could have been an area for live music, based on the ceiling-work that remained above.  Overall the dining room itself is decent enough, there is one odd table way off by itself against the back wall, I bet the employees use that one more than anyone else.  There is a good size patio that faces Cirby, though they only have a single table and umbrella set up there, again, I think more for employee use than anything.  I laughed a little when I saw this photo on their Facebook inviting customers to eat outside, I guess only one party can fit at a time!  Hopefully they will add some more tables.

As it was pretty early there was not a soul to be seen when I entered.  In fact, despite the door beeping to announce my arrival, I didn’t even see any staff.  I made my way up to the main counter and stood for a moment, expecting someone to come around the corner to greet me.  After about 30 seconds it was obvious that no one had heard me enter.  I was curious how long it would take someone to notice so I stood there quietly, picking up a menu from the main stack to thumb through.  I soon noticed that there was someone sitting out at the lone table and facing the street.  I figured that was probably the staff.  A minute later she got up and came inside.  When she realized I was there she seemed both surprised and embarrassed, apologizing.  I wasn’t in any hurry so I didn’t mind, I actually thought it was kind of funny.  I told here I’d eat there and I picked a table in the front corner.

I already knew what I was ordering but gave the menu another once-over to make sure.  It’s a pretty typical Thai menu.  One thing they have that most don’t is duck, one of my favorite ingredients for Thai food.  When she came back a minute later I ordered the Duck Curry [$11.95], Pad See Ew (Stir fry wide rice noodle with broccoli and egg)[$9.85] and a Thai Tea [$2.50].  The tea was out in just a couple of minutes, ready to be stirred up and reveal the deep orange coloring.  This was a fairly strong Thai tea, and it was delicious.  With it came a water, and as I took a sip of that later I noticed, looking down at the bottom of the glass through the water, that they are IKEA glasses, specifically the POKAL glass.  For whatever reason, I thought this was interesting.

Exactly 10 minutes after placing my order I had the two dishes brought out to me.  She didn’t bring me dedicated dinner plate but since it was just me it didn’t really matter and is probably the reason.  Strangely enough, the serving utensils were still there anyway.  Both dishes looked fantastic and were very well presented.  The pad see ew was maybe one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen with the fluffy egg on display at the top and sprinkled with green onions. The duck curry was laid out with a serving of rice on a long dish.  One thing about this that I haven’t seen before was the white sauce/cream on the top.  I didn’t think to taste it on it’s own before mixing everything together so unfortunately I’m not sure what that was or if it’s a typical ingredient or not.  There were plenty of pieces of duck in this along with bamboo shoots, red and green bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and pineapple, all of which sat in a shallow red-orange pool of hot coconut milk mixed with red curry.  I spread the rice out evenly and mixed it all up.

The flavor of this was perfect, from the curry to the ripe, sweet pineapple and dark, rich duck meat.  I ordered both dishes with medium spice and it was just what I was in the mood for.  Well below sinus-clearing territory.  The one major problem I had with this dish, and basically the only reason I didn’t give Bhan Thai 5/5, was that I encountered three pieces of duck which still had a little bit of bone in them.  I really hate that.  I somehow picked those three pieces back to back, so after I hit them it was smooth sailing through the rest of dinner and my leftovers for lunch today.  As for the pad see ew, when I first started to dig around in it, and mix in the egg a little, I saw some noodles stuck together.  This is usually a precursor to disappointing rice noodles for me.  It tends to leave many noodles unexposed to the sauce when cooking and therefore somewhat bland, and in some extreme cases they don’t get cooked all the way through.  Somehow this dish did not seem to suffer from either of those problems.  The flavor of the sweet soy sauce was strong enough that even the couple noodles here and there that didn’t get in much contact with it were not noticeable, and they seemed to be cooked just fine, sharing the same slippery-soft texture as their brothers (is that weird?  Should I not call them that?  haha).  Anyway, this dish was basically perfect aside from those stuck noodles, which didn’t even have an impact.  I had ordered this with pork and there were lots of tasty pieces in it.

Aside from the duck bones, which will probably keep me sticking to Ruen Thai for my duck curry needs, the flavors and textures here were top notch.  The service, which had a rocky start, ended up being fine.  Both the server and another woman that popped out of the kitchen later checked up on me while I was eating, and my server packed up my leftovers at the table for me.  I left full and happy.

Website: They have an address on their business card but it does not work: BhanThai.com

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bhanthaicirby