Arrive at Paadee, the Thai comfort food casual restaurant at the corner of Burnside and SE 28th, and be escorted through the back corridor and the secret door into Lang Baan. Here, Chef Earl Ninsom and his guest chefs (including Nahm alum Rassmee Ruaysantia) serve an 11+ course tasting menu to guests Thursday through Saturday nights. Regular service kicked off just in the past month.
My trio of diners agreed it was one of the best meals of our lives. But we have to return again and again as the menu changes monthly. The April, 2014 menu was focused on southern Thailand, with seafood in most of the courses. May will go north.
The space holds 20 diners at tables and four at the chef's bar for close-up action. The bench seating includes pillows and the chairs are padded. The decor is wood - concrete - casual. I know from experience that the bar stools get very uncomfortable after an hour. The meal extends a little under two hours. There are two seatings, one at 6 pm and one at 8:30 pm.
There are two price options. The $60 option gets two additional courses, including the lobster salad. The $40 option will still bring plenty of wondrous food. They offer a $30 wine pairing curated by Alan Akwai of Raven & Rose. You can also order from a selection of beer, juice and beverages such as ginger beer.
The food arrives family style for your table. They are divided into groupings that arrive at your table together, along with the paired wine. My wine pairing started with a cocktail, and I didn't take notes on the composition but it had intricate flavors and was delightful.
We were promptly served the snacks course, each introduced by our server with the ingredients and tips on how best to eat it. By the end of the night I was singing, "You put the lime with the coconut..." as the sour-and-coconut theme was present in many of the dishes. It is one of my favorite flavor profiles.
- Miang som-O: pomelo, shrimp, roasted coconut sauce on betel leaf.
- Khao tung tang-mo nar tung: pork with roasted coconut and peanuts, watermelon crispy sticky rice to scoop it onto.
- Yum plaa-duk fuu: Catfish that was formed and fried as a net, which you crumbled over the green mango salad.
- The wine was a 2009 Leon Beyer Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France.
Soup: Dtom som plaa-muek: A baby cuttlefish stuffed with pork swam in a delicious sour broth, with lotus root, salted duck egg, wild mushrooms and cherry tomato. The wine, and the next two, were Riesling, which paired very well with the food. This was a 2010 Kesselstaat Graacher Riesling Troken from the Mosel, Germany.
- Lobster Salad - Maine lobster joins Asian pennywort, rambutan, thai herbs and tamarind, with a coconut dressing.
- Pra plaa salmon and makhua: A Thai salmon ceviche including eggplant and orange.
- Wine: 2011 Kesselstatt RK Riesling
- Lohn plaa-tadiew: Grilled halibut in fermented rice with coconut, dry galanga, thai herbs and roe. Served with coriander beef, which our server suggested eating with the side of rice provided.
- Khao kamin, Kaeng khua hoy lae kanoon: Curry with clam and mussel, jackfruit, betel leaf.
- Muu hong: braised pork rib and belly
- Nahm prik plaa trout hed: smoked trout with an aggressive chili relish, grilled mushrooms and greens. This was the only course that was too hot for me to handle.
- Wine: 2012 Ackermann Riesling Hochgewachs
Mung bean cake
Dessert: Lod chong nahm krati: Pandanus noodles in coconut cream, melon, taro, with jasmine shaved ice.
We were perfectly sated with the food. The courses all arrived promptly, with little wait between the divisions. As we were with the first seating, we knew we'd be done by 8 pm so they could ready for the second seating.
Favorite course? This is impossible, I loved them all. The only quibble was the chili was too aggressive in the trout course. But otherwise, each dish was packed with great flavor and textures. OK, the mung bean cake was just a nice transition (and not listed on the menu) nothing to write home about. I would happily dine on each one again.
We look forward to returning and enjoying menus focused on other areas of Thailand. Although you could put the lime with the coconut for me anytime!