Night + Market

8/26/11Looks like our Elite Diners’ Club (EDC) is going strong. We had our inaugural event at Sushi Zo in May with Eugenia, Greg, Jen, and Linh-Nam. In June, it was at Animal with Greg, Jen, Lawrence, and Susan. In July, it was at the Ramen Bull pop-up in Breadbar with Ben, Danno, Jen, Lawrence, and Susan. And now in August, we had the pleasure of going to Night Market with even more people participating this time around: Ben, Greg, Jen, Larry, Lawrence, and Michelle. Maybe by the end of the year, we’ll have a dozen people in a private room somewhere (ha!).

PhotoNight Market, located inside of another Thai restaurant (Talesai – both owned by chef Kris Yenbamroong, who oversees both kitchens), first caught my attention from a KevinEats post earlier in the year. I had long wanted to go to an authentic Thai restaurant that wasn’t your usual cheap, delivery-centric neighborhood place. I gave the EDC members some choices for this month’s event, and Night Market was the winner by a nose. A week later, KevinEats posted about the restaurant a second time, and I knew we were destined to go there.

Chang towerChang tower ($30)

It was Friday night, so drinking was okay. We got a couple of these Chang beer towers. Not bad.

Fried pig tailfried pig tail ($6)

Oh my, these were delicious. It was interesting how it was spicy, but the sweetness crept up. Kind of reminded me of chicken feet at dim sum, except it’s meatier. What a great first dish, and arguably my favorite dish of the night. We had to get another order after finishing.

Nuoc mam chicken wingsnuoc mam chicken wings ($6) – fried. with rooster sauce

Nuoc mam = fish sauce. The chicken wings themselves looked fairly normal, but the hint of fish sauce was great. Only had it with a tiny bit of the sauce, for it wasn’t necessary.

Sai krok isaansai krok isaan / isaan sour sausage ($6) – grilled fermented pork sausage. w/ bird eye chile, cabbage

I’ve had Isaan sausages before, when a Thai coworker introduced me to them a decade ago, and when I ordered them on a delivery order a couple of months ago. The flavor from this particular sausage was much better than the ones I’ve tried in the past. Had a nice char on the outside, then upon the bite, the juicy sourness hits you. Very good. We ordered two of these as well.

Sai uahsai uah / chiengrai herb sausage ($6) – w/ noom salsa, cucumber

Quite different from the Isaan sausage. It had a slight bitter, herb-y flavor that went with the salty and spicy flavors that you expected. I liked the Isaan a little better, but this was a good dish as well.

Pork satay skewerspork satay skewers ($6) – bathed in condensed milk. grilled

Like with the Issan sausage, I remembered eating this from the Thai coworker. The group loved how the sweetness of these skewers was the result on it being marinated in condensed milk. I wasn’t as amazed as they were with this preparation, but I did like this as well.

Pork toropork toro ($7) – grilled fatty hog collar. with ‘jaew’ northeastern chile dip

With a name like pork toro, you knew that I had to order it. The “toro” was the fatty collar meat of the pig, and it certainly lived up to its name. It was actually quite firm from the char, but once you bit into it, the fattiness of the meat spills out.

Moo sadoongmoo sadoong / ‘startled pig’ ($8) – slices of pork w/ mint, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, bird eye chile

Lots of strong Thai flavors in play here with the use of all the above ingredients. Luckily, they didn’t cancel each other out. Kind of like a Thai version of double-cooked pork, and I love me some hui guo rou! Could’ve had some more of this to go along with some rice.

Photosi krong naem / sour pork riblets ($6) – fermented, then fried

I actually asked KevinEats what I should order a few days before coming to Night Market, and one of the dishes he recommended was the moo daeng (pork ribs). Unfortunately, it wasn’t on the menu, but I had my heart set on getting some ribs. The flavor of these riblets were good, but I’m not too crazy about it being deep-fried.

Kao kluk gapikao kluk gapi / shrimp paste-seasoned rice ($13) – w/ candied pork, shredded egg omelette, red onion, green mango, cilantro, bird eye chile. pungent and delicious!!!

Not sure I’d go with three exclamation points, but this dish was really good. It had a great balance of sweet and savory flavors. Sorry for the poor photo, but I had to get me some quick – people were pouncing on this!

Kar moo parlowkar moo parlow / whole braised pork hock ($21) – skin on, slow-cooked with dark soy, five spice, garlic…very rich, very good

I am extremely familiar with ham hock dishes (ti pang) in Chinese cuisine, so when I saw this on the menu, I knew I had to order it. This version was quite similar to its Chinese counterpart, but much sweeter. It might have been a little too sweet actually, but I thought it was a great dish overall. The hock was very well cooked (although Jen would beg to disagree). There were some pickled veggies on the side that went pretty well with the dish.

Pad thaipad thai ($8) – market version w/sweet radish, peanuts, tofu & dried shrimp

Good version of the most played-out Thai dish in America, but I didn’t think that it was head-and-shoulders above the ones I’ve tried. But how did they know that tofu pad thai was my favorite variation?

Whole fishwhole fish sam-rod (market price – $16)- deep fried. topped with ‘three flavor’ sauce–garlic, palm sugar, chile

Suggested to us by one of the servers (who I later found out was the sous chef – very informed and helpful). I forgot what type of fish it was, but it was first deep-fried, then topped with a sweet chile sauce. The other server cut the fish us and served it to us. Didn’t have to do that (we’re Chinese :P) but it was a nice touch. I liked the fish, but it didn’t blow my mind. I plan on trying the salt-crusted version on my next visit.

Kao pad pukao pad pu / crab fried rice ($14)

This was probably the best traditional Thai fried rice I’ve had. I actually liked the shrimp paste-seasoned one a little more, but this was a great take on the tradition version of the fried rice. Big lumps of crab meat definitely made this dish worthwhile.

Photokao soi / chieng rai noodle soup ($12) – pork ragout, spare rib, red chile broth

Another one of the dishes recommended by the sous. This was actually off-menu the night we went (it’s on the 8/1 online menu though), but when I asked if we should get anything else, he suggested this dish, since it was different from the other dishes we ordered. He was right. The flavors of this noodle dish were much more subtle compared to all the previous dishes and their in-your-face flavors. Like a good Thai spaghetti.

Hor abhor ab / catfish tamale ($10) – catfish baked in a banana leaf w/ chile & herbs

Oops, forgot to take a picture of this. The spiciness of the chile really crept up. I actually didn’t expect to like this, but like with the kao soi, I thought that it was a nice contrast to the other dishes we had.

Ice cream sandwichice cream sandwich ($4.50) – enjoyed in ghettos throughout bangkok. coconut ice cream, sweet sticky rice, condensed & evaporated milk, toasted mung beans on a sweet roll

I really liked this dessert. Although Jen wasn’t too crazy about this (what a downer), I thought that everything in this was just awesome. I should’ve ordered two of these for myself.

After a few days, I’m still torn about the grade I would give Night Market. All of the dishes we had were good, and some were amazing. I definitely have to come back again and try some of the other dishes on the menu (which looks like it changes quite frequently, although all of the amazing dishes are mainstays). Since Eugenia and Linh-Nam couldn’t make it to this EDC event, it gives me an excuse to come back in the near future. An interesting note: the restaurant wasn’t busy at all at 8pm on a Friday night. I’m not sure if I should be worried about it, but I hope more people discover what is currently in my opinion the best Thai restaurant in L.A. (need to try Jitlada now though).

Chris Hei grade: B+

Night Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724

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