Wednesday, February 11, 2015
A Bloody Good Kao Piak At Tycoon Thai, Mason Jars Or Not
What is it with Asian restaurants and Mason jars? One would think an Asian restaurant in San Francisco that served all its drinks (including local craft beer) in hipster fetishist Mason jars would be serving dumbed-down, er, "gateway" Asian food. If I'd bet on that assumption, I'd be 0-for-2 by now. First came O'Mai Cafe at the trendier end of Clement, where my Vietnamese iced coffee was served in a Mason jar alongside my anatomically correct bun bo Hue. An now comes Tycoon Thai, in the Tenderloin, no less....
Champa Garden (SF) and Maneelap Srimangkoun.
Tycoon Thai is all tall tables and bar stools, and on arrival I perched at a window counter to watch O'Farrell St. life go by. After being brought my menu and a glass of water (startlingly served in a Mason jar) I ordered the kao piak along with a cha ma now (Thai lime iced tea), which also was to come in a Mason jar. I normally would have added an appetizer, but at Tycoon Thai they all seem priced and sized for sharing, not for solo diners, so the sai ua and the som tum Lao will have to wait for further visits.
Overall, Tycoon Thai's version was quite similar to Maneelap Srimongkoun's version. Though the latter did not have or offer pig's blood, both versions came with chicken on the bone, and wide, flat rice noodles. Champa Garden's version had neither pork blood nor bones in the chicken, and came with round, not flat, rice noodles (all three venues promised house-made noodles). The broth at Tycoon seemed a bit saltier and deeper in flavor, and definitely had a bit more of a cilantro kick than Maneelap's. If there was one fault to be found with Tycoon Thai's kao piak, it was that they seemed to skimp on the noodles, and I didn't see a kaedama option on the menu. I could have eaten a lot more, and if TT covers that, it will clearly have my favorite version among the three (bearing in mind here that kao piak itself will never be my favorite noodle dish, except possibly when I have the flu, due to its grandmotherly chicken soupiness).
Where slurped: Tycoon Thai, 620 O'Farrell St. (next to Lahore Karahi), San Francisco