I finally made my way to the famous Khao San Road. Cheri and I have passed by it before during the summer and looked at their packed patio, unable to read the name of the restaurant or remember it unfortunately.
The signage is written in a one-of-a-kind script, indeed. Blue fluorescent tube bends to create the letters. It is framed in a glass screen, adoring the left side of the facade. Overall, a clean and simple storefront.
One must come down a few steps, to reach the small dining space. The wooden corner banquette seat was fully occupied with packs of beer, leaving no seating option for those waiting. I should note, there is always a wait for this place around peak hours. Even though my friend and I made it here at 11:45, the lunch rush had already started. Inside there was plenty of warm woods, as well as a wall covered in colorful modern art. The room was separated into a dining area and a sit down bar. We decided to be social and dine at the stainless steel bar counter, on highchairs.
We got their laminated menus with red and blue writing, they were organized and very readable. Fortunately, there weren’t too many dishes to pick from. We asked our bartender/waitress to give us her recommendations and she did not hesitate to run us through the dishes. She pointed out their two Signature Dishes, as well as their popular Pad Thai which we promptly decided to share. Khai Soi (substituting the meat with the extra beef) was the second one. We asked for both dishes to be mild, as I am never sure what to expect when it comes to spiciness levels. There are 7 levels to pick from, for those interested in testing their taste bud's tolerance. It was a booze-free lunch, however, I should note, I was tempted by their Singha (original Thai beer) as well as the Thai Bucket cocktail. I enjoyed catching up with my friend, as the music morphed from light pop-rock to rap.
Our plates for sharing were small and flat. It proved particularly difficult to share the Khai Soi. This lovely dish consisted of egg noodles and chinks of beef submerged in a bowl of golden curry and coconut milk. It was topped with crispy noodles, scallions and coriander. It also came with a side of lime. Due to the soup-like consistency of the dish, it would have been best enjoyed in its' bowl with the spoon to scoop all that extra sauce which we couldn’t quite get to. Also, I would not recommend to substitute the chicken with beef for that extra charge, The beef was dry and low quality, in my opinion. It was the type used in stews which did not help the dish at all. Overall, the dish was not as heavy as I expected and the subtle cilantro hints helped bring out the curry and balance off the slight spiciness. The Pad Thai was served on a flat plate, homogeneously mixed. It consisted of rice noodles, tamarind, egg, tofu, bean sprout, shallot and came topped with chives and fresh roasted peanuts. Hints of died chili and cilantro added to the complexity of the dish. It also came with side of lime for those interested in putting out their hotness level. We should definitely have had this dish at least medium. It was a great, simple mix.
We really enjoyed the lively, packed space. Service was quick and efficient, while the dishes were worthwhile (and perhaps better enjoyed selfishly). I should note that we did expect a lot more, based on the common awe reaction from everyone about Khao San Road.