BKK Cookshop

Ever since Beau Thai grew up, decided it was too good for us plebes in Bloomingdale, and moved across town to its fancy new digs, they’ve left us their little redheaded half-brother, BKK Cookshop, to help absorb the shock and sadness of their sudden departure. That was like…three years ago. I’m a little bitter.

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So tonight was my first real time there, and it was also luckily a beautiful night to sit on their patio! Just by looking at their menu, you can tell that BKK Cookshop isn’t here to upstage your neighborhood Thai place, which is good because I am unusually attached to my personal neighborhood Thai place and I will fight you if you try to insinuate that your place is better (Aroi shout out!) BKK is a different beast, all interesting noodles, simple but tasty cocktails, and dim sum-like appetizers. Speaking of simple but tasty cocktails, here’s my tart, limey, strong Bangkok Mule!

There was significant negotiation involved in choosing one appetizer because they all looked so good. We finally settled on the steamed buns because we were able to choose three different flavors: spicy pork, sweet black bean, and panang chicken. Steamed buns are so nostalgic for me, probably because I haven’t had great ones since I left my home state of California more than ten years ago and they always remind me of dim sum brunch in San Francisco. The black bean ones were just like those ones, with a rich but not cloying sweetness. The pork was soft, well spiced but not spicy, and the panang was both meaty and saucy, the clear winner.

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Then came the entrees: I had the sukiyaki bowl and husband ordered the coconut curry bowl and a side of son-in-law eggs. The eggs were slightly overcooked and the sauce was syrupy and not super tamarind-y, but it was definitely interesting. The bowls were both so different in their own ways from our usual Thai fare that it’s hard to even compare them. I liked the rich herbaceousness of the Sukiyaki broth and the abundant veggies, especially the Chinese broccoli, which lent its subtle bitterness to counter the salinity of the broth.  The coconut curry was good too, made with a yellow curry that doesn’t make it into my husband’s usual Thai rotation of panang and more panang. The only issue with it was the bone-in chicken that populated his soup for the second week in a row. This guy just cannot catch a break! The good news is that it was very fall-apart-y, and we all know that dark meat is the superior meat. But come on, guys. Throw him a bone (heeeeee!) and just strip the chicken before you put it in a soup. This is my basic thought when it comes to shellfish too; if I’m paying you for my food, you had better be doing all the work.

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Sadly, all of our dishes were originally served gringo-style and although I was happy to not be wrestling with these noodles armed only with chopsticks, we were both much happier after we requested the spice tray and gave our soups some proper nasal-drip-inducing seasoning. No matter how many times I pushed my bowl of leftover liquid away, I couldn’t stop eating the broth. Now I have sloshy-belly.

Price: $25 per person.

Bottom line: BKK Cookshop is not a replacement for your favorite Thai joint. Instead, you will find a place for it in your heart that you never knew existed. Like the bastard brother of fancy-pants Beau Thai, this place doesn’t get the attention or recognition it deserves. Next time you need some hot and tasty soup, show some love to BKK.

Doi Moi

I hadn’t heard of this place when I passed by it on the way to yoga a few weeks ago, but I added it to my to-eat list, and tonight was the night!

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Doi Moi is best described as Americanized Southeast Asian with no particular bent. Thai? Vietnamese? Nobody knows. But the menu looked tasty when I perused it online, and it appears to change up regularly, which I appreciate.  Especially for a small plates type of restaurant where you end up ordering a sizable chunk of the menu each time, variety is key. Doi Moi definitely has that.

The beer and wine menu was also extensive and respectable. I got the Captain Lawrence Passionfruit Gose, and it was not the only excellent beer on the list. There were also a handful of house cocktails but I went a little overboard on alcohol last night so I was trying to take it easy.

doimoi3We ordered five things for the table: the kimchi with pineapple, green papaya salad (always one of my Thai favorites), sweet corn fritters, pork steam buns, and the rabbit curry. We were warned that the papaya was on the spicy side and in response, we made it very clear that this sounded great.doimoi4.jpg

Everything came crazy fast. Kimchi came out first, and it was sour but not spicy at all, and the pineapple was….ambiguous? Even looking for it, I couldn’t taste it. Then were the corn fritters: sweet, crispy, and  flavorful, with a nice basil sauce to dip it in (though not nearly enough). Next came the pork buns. For me, this was the highlight. The pork was well-cooked and flavorful and the buns melted in your mouth. The papaya salad was basic. And I mean that in the slangy, basic bitch kind of way. It looked right but it tasted like something Sarah Palin would make for a church potluck. If the waitress felt like she had to warn us about this, I wonder who their usual clientele is. Green papaya should be spicy as well as savory-salty, with plenty of fish sauce and peanut and tomato. This didn’t exist. It was covered in Thai fingerhot chilis, which, completely contrary to their name, are spicy only to your grandma (Your grandma. Not my grandma. My grandma is a master of Tandoori chicken and my other grandma makes killer Indonesian food).

I’m willing to overlook the misstep in green papaya-land, though, because the rabbit curry was fabulous. Again, it was not spicy, but it certainly wasn’t bland. It was savory, coconutty, and with plentiful rabbit meat. My only complaint is that, due to inherent sauciness, it was not great for sharing. Our table looked like a murder scene after trying to split this up. We ended up just slurping up the curry from the main bowl with our individual spoons.

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Finally, two of us ordered the Vietnamese coffee, which was made in an individual pour-over style with condensed milk on the bottom. This was the perfect end to the meal.

Price: $30-35 per person

Bottom line: I’d probably come here again. The food was high-quality and the service was great, but all diners should be forewarned that this is not a hole-in-the-wall Thai place that doesn’t give a shit about your gringo-baby tastebuds. Doi Moi cares very much about not offending your lame American palate. If you want spicy, go to Mandalay. If you want a big variety and a killer rabbit curry, go to Doi Moi.