Thai Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thai Kitchen on the Intersection of Alameda and Corrales

There is no good meat that their stupid cooks do not spoil with the sauce they make. They mix with all their stews a certain paste made of rotten prawns…which has such a pungent smell that it nauseates anyone not accustomed to it.”  No, that’s not a review published by a disgruntled diner on Zomato or Yelp.  Nor is it Gil describing a chile dish to which liberal amounts of cumin were added.  This scathing indictment was written in 1688 by Gervaise, a Catholic missionary from France.  It was his tactless way of describing a Siamese meal at a diplomatic function he attended.

Much has changed since Gervaise disparaged and insulted the cuisine of what is today Thailand, the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power.  Gervaise, who would probably attribute the failure to conquer Thailand to the food, was probably not the first and he certainly wasn’t the only person to have criticized Thai food, but few have expressed it with such derision.

My friends Bill Resnik and Bruce

My friends Bill Resnik and Sr. Plata enjoying the last of their beverages after an excellent meal

Gervaise would no doubt be very surprised to discover how popular Thai food has become in the three centuries since his unsavory encounter.  Thai food ranked sixth in a recent survey designed to gauge the popularity of international foods across the world.  What’s most amazing about its popularity is that before the 1960s, Thai food wasn’t widely available outside Thailand’s borders.  That changed during the Vietnamese War when a large number of foreigners came to Thailand and were exposed to Thai food and culture. 

To accommodate pockets of Thai immigrants to America missing their beloved cuisine, small Thai restaurants began opening up in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.   By the early 1900s, there were more than 200 Thai restaurants in Los Angeles alone.   When my Kim and I moved back to New Mexico in 1995, we could count on one hand all the Thai restaurants in Albuquerque.  Today the Duke City boasts of some 23 restaurants serving Thai cuisine.  Among the elder statesmen, established in 1995, is Siam Cafe which, going into its second decade, remains one of the city’s most popular Thai restaurants.

Tod Mun Plar (Fish Cakes)

May, 2014, saw the launch of Thai Kitchen on the northwest corner of the Alameda and Corrales intersection. The opening of a new Thai restaurant is reason enough for celebration, but even more so when the new Thai restaurant is the younger sibling of Siam Cafe, progenitor of some of the most enticing fragrances in town.   Thai cuisine aficionados will recognize the familiar smiling face of Art, the long-time host at Siam Cafe.  While his sister continues to own and operate Siam Cafe, Art is bringing the family operation to the burgeoning west side.

The Thai Kitchen is located at the former site of the Saffron Tiger Express, a popular Indian fast casual restaurant.  The most striking exterior feature of the Thai Kitchen is the steeple-shaped letter “A” on the word “Thai.”  It’s very representative of Thai architecture.  The restaurant’s interior may be the most beautiful of any Thai restaurant in town, a melange of soft, bright colors and dark masculine woods.  A statue of Buddha is poised on the capacious bar facing the seating area, a mix of booths and tables with good spacing.

Chicken Satay

Thai Kitchen’s menu is replete with many of the same items featured at Siam Cafe.  Alas, Art and his staff apparently don’t watch the Big Bang Theory because the menu doesn’t include mee krob, the favorite Thai dish of wunderkind Sheldon Cooper.   Because of the Big Bang Theory’s popularity, mee krob has become one of the most heavily requested items at Thai restaurants.  So has another Sheldon favorite, chicken satay with extra peanut sauce which can be found on the Thai Kitchen’s menu.

30 May 2014: You won’t lament the absence of mee krob for very long because there’s so much else to enjoy.  Start with Tod Mun Plar, one of the most popular appetizers in Thailand.  A deep-fried fishcake (tilapia) mixed with curry paste and fresh herbs, it’s served with a sweet-tangy cucumber salad, a surprisingly effective foil for the strong flavors of the thinly pounded fishcake. Tod mun plar seems to be an acquired taste among many diners. Though it’s among my favorite Thai appetizers, very few of my dining companions enjoy it so I end up being “stuck” with finishing it all (choruses of “awwww” here).

Tod Mun Plar (Fish Cakes)

Green Curry with Beef

22 August 2014: Shelton Cooper’s beloved chicken satay with extra peanut sauce is on the Thai Kitchen.  After a marinade in Thai spices and coconut cream, thinly-sliced chicken breasts are grilled on wooden skewers in a shish kebab fashion.  Four skewers of golden-hued chicken “Popsicles” are served with a traditional Thai peanut dipping sauce and a cucumber salad.  The contrast between the pungent, smoky satay and the sweet peanut sauce provides a nice balance of flavor though you should exercise restraint with the peanut sauce as too much will make the satay dessert sweet.  The cucumber salad is even sweeter. For better results, try the satay sans sauce.

30 May 2014: During an April, 2014 visit to Butcher & Bee in Charleston, South Carolina, this avowed Dagwood clone eschewed  a sandwich in favor of larb at one of the highest rated sandwich shops in America. Made well, Larb, the very popular “cooked salad” typically found on the menu at Thai and Lao restaurants, is better than almost anything.  Larb is essentially a meat dish, most often made with minced or ground beef, pork or chicken with healthful elements of a salad.  The Thai Kitchen’s larb is made with grilled chopped chicken, mint, cilantro, Thai chiles, greens, lime juice and fish sauce.  It’s a very refreshing salad with qualities that’ll make your mouth tingle with appreciation.

Larb

Larb

30 May 2014: During my inaugural visit to any Thai restaurant it doesn’t matter what the acknowledged specialty of the house is, I’m going to order a curry dish. Thai curry offers some of the most olfactory-arousing fragrances of any dish.   Prepared well, its flavors deliver on the promises made by the fragrances which precede it.  Thai Kitchen’s green curry certainly delivers on its aromatic promises, but not as much on the renowned Thai heat.  At “Thai hot” as I ordered it, the curry should have been the overpowering taste sensation.  Instead, the green curry delivered on yet another promise of Thai cuisine–that of balance.  With a harmony of flavors, the green curry was sweet, sour, spicy, salty and pungent, not in equal measures, but with good balance.  It’s a very good green curry. 

22 August 2014: The one curry which tends to appeal even to avowed curry haters is Massaman curry which, unless otherwise requested, is milder than other curries.  It’s also sweeter thanks to the influx of coconut milk, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar.  Xenophobes might be interested to know that one spelling of this curry is derived from an ancient form of the word “Muslim” and in fact, this dish is often referred to as “Muslim curry” in some areas.  It was indeed Muslim traders who brought the spices used in the dish from India and the Middle East to the southern portion of modern day Thailand.  Thai Kitchen’s version includes potatoes, tomatoes and your choice of pork, chicken, beef, tofu or vegetables.  The fragrance emanating from a bowl of Massaman curry is equal to the tongue-titillating flavors of this excellent elixir.

Spicy Jungle Noodle

21 April 2018: In his first four visits to Thai Kitchen, my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver was so besotted by the spicy jungle noodle dish that he had yet to order any other entree.  It’s a dish as exotic as its name and even more delicious: flat noodles, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms and your choice of chicken, beef or pork infused with Thai spices which impart sweet, savory and piquant taste sensations.  The wide, flat noodles are absolutely perfectly prepared and the vegetables are al dente and fresh. As with the aforementioned green curry, “hot” is discernible, but at this Thai restaurant, pain is not a flavor.  Even my Kim who eschews fiery foods is able to handle the heat on this delicious dish.

21 April 2018: The very first time I saw Pad Krapow on a Thai restaurant menu, my mind conjured recollections of the campy 1960s Batman television series in which the Batman character had less muscular definition as Joe Average.  “Kapow” was one of the animated sound effects used when Batman punched an evildoer.   Since then it’s become my go-to Thai dish on the rare occasion in which curry cravings aren’t calling.  Pad Krapow, a magnificent dish which translates to “wok fried” (Pad) “holy basil” (Krapow) is one of the most fragrant of all dishes in a culinary culture in which virtually all dishes are fragrant.  “Holy basil,” a versatile herb with medicinal properties, isn’t used on Thai Kitchen’s version, but it is made with traditional stir-fried hot basil, sweet basil, bell peppers, chili, garlic, yellow onions, green onions, mushrooms and your choice of protein (chicken, beef, pork, tofu and vegetables).   The fragrant bouquet of this wok-fried classic envelops you from the moment it arrives at your table until you enjoy the last morsel.  Fresh mushrooms are another highlight.

Pad Krapow

21 April 2018: As happy as the prospect of wonderful savory Thai dishes made us, a small sign on the window announcing mangoes with sweet rice made us frenzied with excitement.  We should have ordered this seasonal dessert as an appetizer or at the very least, ordered one each of this outstanding dessert.  Mangoes with sweet rice drizzled with coconut milk is quite simply one of the best desserts in the world especially when the mangoes are at their peak of freshness as they were during our visit.  Flecked between the white sticky rice are long grains of Thai purple rice which has a sweet profile. 

Sweet Rice and Mango

Gervaise would probably have found a myriad of things not to like about the Thai Kitchen (you can’t please some people), but most Duke City diners will thoroughly enjoy the Thai Kitchen, especially if they also love Siam Cafe.

Thai Kitchen
1071 Corrales Road, N.W., Suite 23
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 890-0059
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 21 April 2018
1st VISIT: 30 May 2014
# OF VISITS: 4
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Spicy Noodle Jungle, Tod Mun Plar, Green Curry, Larb, Massaman Curry, Pork Satay, Penang Curry, Pad Krapow, Sweet Rice and Mango

Thai Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Includes Albuquerque’s First-Ever Burmese Cuisine

No lady likes to snuggle and dine accompanied by a porcupine.”
He lit a match to check gas tank.  They call him skinless Frank.”
A man, a miss, a car, a curve.  He kissed the miss and missed the curve.”
Within this vale of toil and sin, your head goes bald but not your chin.”
Henry the Eighth sure had trouble.  Short-term wives, long-term stubble.”

Some of the more seasoned among us might remember that one of the best ways to break up the drudgery of traveling long distances on monotonous two-lane highways was to look for Burma Shave billboards.  Humorous five-line poems adorned red signs one line at a time, each line in white capitalized blocked letters about 100-feet apart.  The last line of each poem was the much anticipated punchline followed by a sign bearing the obligatory name of the then-popular shaving cream.   New Mexico was one of a handful of states not to benefit from this highly visible and very successful advertising medium.  Apparently our highways and byways were deemed to have insufficient road traffic to warrant the billboards.

As a precocious child yet to revel in hours-long explorations of the family encyclopedias, my limited knowledge of “Burma” came from my dad, the smartest man I’ve ever been blessed to know.  Even he couldn’t tell me if the shaving cream he himself used was actually developed in Burma.  In fact, he knew very little about the Southeast Asian country bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.  No one in my then limited circle knew much about Burma either (remember this was long before the internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes, back when the only “Google” was spelled “googol” and represented the number one followed by a hundred zeroes.

Lilliputian in Size, Huge in Flavors

Over the years, of course, my knowledge of Burma (much like my waistline) has increased.  Burma was on the world stage in 1989 when a ruling and violent military regime changed its name from Burma to Myanmar and its capital city from Rangoon to Yangon.  Though the United Nations officially recognized the name change, the United States and the United Kingdom still have not (although during his 2012 visit President Obama did refer to the country as Myanmar on at least one occasion).  While the despotic military junta was dissolved and a nominally civilian government was formed in 2010, a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign triggered a massive human rights and humanitarian crisis in 2017.

My culinary knowledge of Burmese cuisine, however, has long been lacking.  I’ve always assumed that Burmese cuisine is similar to the cuisine of its bordering nations, perhaps with some country-specific nuances thrown in.  Immediately obvious from the time my culinary explanations began in earnest (circa 1977 Massachusetts), was that Crab Rangoon (despite its name) was not created in the Burmese capital.  So, despite having consumed a fair share of Crab Rangoon over the years, until my inaugural visit to 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine on 4th Street (thank you Beth Porter), my taste buds were strangers to the diverse and flavorful foods of the storied nation.

Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry

528 Sushi & Asian Food is (to my knowledge) the first Duke City restaurant to offer even a modicum of Burmese food.  Some of that can be attributed to the country’s long seclusion from the world community (film maker Robert Liebermanhe once described Burma as the “second most isolated country in the world after North Korea.)”  As its name declares, the restaurant serves both sushi and Asian food.  The latter is a rather broad umbrella, but it’s readily apparent from scanning the menu over the counter that the umbrella includes Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and of course, Japanese sushi. My eyes targeted dishes prefaced with “Myanmar style.”

You’ve probably surmised that the name “528”  has nothing to do with Highway 528 which runs through Rio Rancho.  The significance of the number 528 is borne from Buddha’s teachings of “metta” or loving-kindness.  “528” is used to symbolize the love within a family while the number “ 1500”  symbolizes love between partners.   That’s the way a very friendly, very shy young lady behind the counter explained it to me.  She also did her best to explain the Burmese dishes on the menu, going so far as warning me that not everyone likes the strong Indian curry used in the first dish that caught my fancy.

Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake

13 April 2018: That would be the Myanmar style pork and pickled mango curry.  Perhaps the last dish to surprise me as much because of its sheer uniqueness was the Tortillas Florales with Indian Butter from Eloisa in Santa Fe.  Talk about a pleasant surprise!  After recently being subjected to a cavalcade of cloying curry dishes, I’d expected pretty much the same.  Instead, this was the most unique curry dish I’ve had in years, a melding of culinary cultures and techniques: pungent Indian curry, piquant Asian red chili, aromatic cilantro, potatoes reminiscent of those on Mussaman curry and of course, the sweet and mostly sour mango, all served with rice.  Every element was complementary, every bite delicious.

13 April 2018: Just as unique is the Myanmar style spicy vegetables stuffed fish cake appetizer, another theretofore new to me surprise.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Surprises abounded, starting from the piquant-citrus fragrance wafting from the dish, a bouquet very reminiscent of my favorite papaya salad from An Hy Quan.  The fish cakes were the color of scallops and were split in half butterfly style.  They weren’t so much stuffed as “vegetables” (mostly julienne carrots, cabbage and cilantro)  inserted into the butterflied center of each fish cake and tossed with a piquant citrus sauce.  Texturally, the fish cakes somewhere between marshmallow soft and chewy.  Altogether, this is a terrific dish, one which must be experienced to be appreciated.

Samosas

18 April 2018:  It’s always thrilling to run into culinary kindred spirits at restaurants you recommend.  John and Zelma Baldwin, globetrotters and gastronomes who have actually set food in Burma, not only visited 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine because they read about it on Gil’s Thrilling…, they actually ordered what I recommended.   It made me very happy to see them enjoy dishes new to them and even moreso watching them study the menu as they planned what to order their next visit or five.  528 is the type of restaurant which inspires return visits.  One visit is certainly not enough when the menu is as diverse and delicious as this one.

18 April 2018: My introduction to the many of the foods of the exotic Indian subcontinent actually took place in England where our discoveries included chicken tiki masala (a dish actually invented in Scotland) and samosas.  Samosas are so beloved in England that one of the wealthiest women in the country got her start making and selling samosas from her home.  We contributed greatly to her wealth.  Samosas, triangular pastries stuffed with sundry items, are wonderful hand-held appetizers offered at many an Indian and East African restaurant.  528’s rendition is stuffed with potatoes, onions and cilantro served with a sweet-piquant chili sauce.  At five to an order, you’ll delight in biting through the crisp pastry to get to the soft potatoes-onions.

Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles

18 April 2018: After recently experiencing a cloying Thai curry dish redolent with coconut milk made even sweeter thanks to the probable addition of a spoonful or ten of sugar, 528’s Myanmar-style coconut soup with noodles (chicken, fish cake, egg, onion, coconut cream, noodles, crunchy noodles) redeemed my faith in savory coconut dishes.  Even without the curry of my cravings, this is a fabulous soup, reminiscent in some respect of ramen soups (courtesy of the hard-boiled eggs and slurp-worthy noodles).  While coconut milk is the basis for Thai curries, this Myanmar-style paragon of deliciousness is made with coconut curry which is much thicker and richer.  Sweet notes did emanate from the soup, but not dessert-sweet as some Thai curries tend to be.

20 April 2018:  Beth Porter describes the egg drop soup with noodle as “one of the best dishes in a long time. Ultimate Comfort food with great flavor.”  After prompting my first, second and third visits, Beth could recommend a brackish bowl of muddy water and I’d try it.  Thankfully the spicy and sour egg drop soup is much better than muddy water.  It’s better, in fact, than every variation of hot and soup soup in New Mexico save for perhaps the one served at the Pop-Up Dumpling House.  Served piping hot and redolent with sour notes, it’s a superb soup.  It’s also a rarity in that it combines  delicate, subtle egg drop with assertive, in-your-face spicy-and-sour and it works well.  528 offers everything from egg drop soup to Tom Yum Soup, all priced well south of a ten-spot.

Spicy and Sour Egg Drop Soup

20 April 2018:  Perhaps the only lamentable aspect of my visits to 528 has been seeing all the menu items crossed off the menu because they’re just weren’t moving.  The ten item appetizer section of the menu includes several items bearing Malcom’s last name (X).  One of the remaining items is pork balls (not pictured), eight pork meatballs served with a piquant sauce.  Each about the size of a small jawbreaker candy, they’re tinged with five spice, perhaps the most harmonious quitumvirate of spices available with notes of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and Szechwan peppercorns.

20 April 2018:  Save for the Chinese sausage fried rice at  Ming Dynasty, I long ago gave up on finding great fried rice in the Duke City area. Fortunately my friend Bill Resnik doesn’t give up as easily. With Marco Polo-like passion, he persists in his search for a fabulous fried rice. He found two at 528: the Indian-style fried rice and the spicy fried rice.  The latter is in rarefied air, right up there with Ming Dynasty’s transformative Chinese sausage fried rice.  It’s got most of the same components (rice, egg, onion, garlic, tomato, bok-choy, carrot, green peas, pepper) of other fried rice dishes we’ve had, but unlike others, it’s not clumpy, gummy and starchy.  Every grain is impregnated with stir-fried deliciousness, every ingredient in perfect proportion to the others.  You’ll want to eat a mountain of this stuff!

Spicy Fried Rice

20 April 2018: 528’s inventory of Myanmar-style dishes is fairly limited and not all of them are prefaced with the term “Myanmar-style” so it pays to ask.  The quaintly named Ka-Chin Style Spicy Chicken may trigger recollections of the sound of a mechanical cash register when an amount is rung up popularized in Wayne’s World, but Ka-Chin is actually the northernmost state of Myanmar, a region inhabited by a confederation of ethnic groups.  If all their cuisine is as delicious as 528’s Ka Chin-style spicy chicken, I may just have to move there.  My friend Bill described this dish best–“intensely flavored.”  In this case “spicy” doesn’t mean “piquant” though there’s a bit of heat in this dish.  There are also savory, tart, pungent and sweet notes with the tart-pungent combination taking it to the nth degree.  This beauteous dish is made with tender, thin slices of chicken breast, red pepper, jalapeño, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and tamarind and it’s served with rice which takes some of the oomph out of its flavor bombardment qualities.

Ka-Chin Style Spicy Chicken

20 April 2018: If you want a dish that’s not nearly as intensive and every bit as delicious as the Ka-Chin style spicy chicken, 528’s spicy chicken basil (chicken, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, green beans, baby corn, Thai basil) is your hook-up.  Thai basil (horapa) adds a subtle anise-licorice flavor and perfume to every dish in which it’s used.  Those qualities are exemplified on this absolutely mouth-watering dish.  You’ll appreciate the crisp, fresh vegetables as much as you will the thin ribbons of breast meat chicken.  You’ll want to bathe every morsel of rice in the sweet-savory sauce.  Heck, you might want to dab a little of it on the back of your neck to hold onto it a bit longer.

Spicy Chicken Basil

20 April 2018: The affable owner (and shame on me for not knowing his name after three visits) learned how to make sushi in Pennsylvania and honed his skills in Oregon.  He’s been living in Albuquerque for twelve years now and believes he’ll stay.  He actually rented the space which currently houses his restaurant so he’d have the kitchen space to prepare sushi for his clients.  For year’s he had the sushi concession at Kirtland AFB’s commissary and now prepares sushi for the cafes at UNM’s north campus.  He operates 528 with his wife and father-in-law, allowing him to keep his prices ridiculously (and I do mean ridiculously) low.  Sushi at 528 will cost you about half what you’d pay at other sushi restaurants in the city–and it’s good stuff! 

At his recommendation, my first uramaki roll at 528 was the New Mexico roll (green chile, cucumber, avocado).  As often seems to be the case, Bill and I wondered how sushi restaurants manage to prepare green chile better than so many New Mexican restaurants do.  528’s green chile has the alluring roasted flavor aficionados love and enough piquancy so that you won’t need wasabi.  The vinegared rice wrap lends a sweet contrast to the piquancy of the green chile.  At ten individual pieces of sushi for under six dollars, this value-priced sushi is better than sushi twice its price.

New Mexico Roll

Sadly, my inquiry as to which of the listed desserts to try was met with the disappointing news that all were discontinued because they weren’t being ordered by guests. If they were as surprisingly delicious as the entree and appetizer, they would have been glorious.  528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine is set in a Lilliputian storefront with seating for no more than four people.  This little gem is too good to remain a hidden secret!

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine
5312 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 345-2104
LATEST VISIT: 20 April 2018
1st VISIT: 13 April 2018
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 23
COST: $$
BEST BET: Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake, Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry, Samosas, Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles
REVIEW #1037

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Boran – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thai Boran at Village @ La Orilla on Albuquerque’s West Side

Many of us with a puerile sense of humor can probably recall giggling like silly school kids the first time we visited a Thai restaurant and perused a menu.  We went straight into the gutter the first time we came across such foods as phat prik and fuktong curry.  Even after learning that “phat prik” is actually a stir-fried chili dish and “fuktong curry” is a pumpkin curry, the sophomoric among us couldn’t order these dishes with a straight face.  It gets even worse when we actually learned how to pronounce the names of Thai dishes.  Not even Bob Newhart could order “cow pod guy” (chicken fried rice) or “cow pod moo” (pork fried rice) with his usual deadpan delivery.  That’s probably why so many of us will place our order by number instead of endeavoring to pronounce words we find a bit salacious or humorous. 

Let’s face it, denizens of the fruited plain tend to find the names of some Thai dishes humorous because the way they’re spelled or pronounced is similar to English sexual references or swear words.  Perhaps that’s why Thai restaurateurs tend to use clever word play, typically puns,  to name their eateries.  Instead of christening an eatery for an honored grandmother or treasured daughter whose name is “Porn,” it’s less offensive (or funny) to name a restaurant something like “Thai Tanic,” “Thairanosaurus” or “Thai and Stop Me.”  Instead of naming a restaurant for a beloved son named Poo, wouldn’t it be more inviting to name a restaurant something like “Eye of the Thai-ger” or “Beau Thai?”

Interior of Thai Boran. Photo Courtesy of Larry McGoldrick, the Professor With the Perspicacious Palate

Indulge me for one more paragraph of pithy covfefes.  Song titles and lyrics in particular seem to lend themselves to clever wordplay using Thai names.  From the Beatles, you’ve got “All You Need is Larb” and “Can’t Buy Me Larb.”   Who can every forget Andy Williams’ immortal “Thai to Remember?”  Or Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing “Big Girls Don’t Thai?”  Then there’s Hank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I could Thai.”  How about The Temptations “Curry Tomorrow?”  Okay, by now you’re probably thinking “that (Thai word for chili) is probably going to hell for his politically incorrectness.”  What’s the point anyway?

My point is Thai restaurant in the Duke City tend to have rather boring and straight-forward names: Thai Curry, Thai Heritage, Thai, Orchid Thai, Pad Thai, Thai Kitchen, Thai Tip.   Zzz!  The most cleverly named Thai restaurant in town is probably “Hot Pink Thai” and even that’s pretty parochial.  Give me a “Thai Me Up,” “Been There, Thai’d That” or “Tongue Thai’d” anytime.  My friend Schuyler is no doubt paraphrasing a Winston cigarette commercial of the 1970s, “what do you want good punnery or good taste?”  My retort is why can’t we have both?

Thai Toast

Upon learning of a new Thai restaurant launching at Village @ La Orilla, we dared hope a clever pun would grace its marquee.  Alas, the name “Thai Boran” may as well be “Thai Boring” to the punsters among us.  At least I had to look up “Boran” to learn it translates from Thai to “old, ancient or historic.”  Thai Boran is owned by restaurant impresario Kathy Punya, a native of Thailand who’s amassed quite a portfolio of restaurants across the Duke City, among them five Sushi Kings, Crazy Fish, Noodle King and Asian Street Food.   It’s located next door to Albuquerque’s first cinema eatery, the not-so-cleverly-named Flix.

Thai Boran is somewhat on the small side and contrary to any notion of “Thai Boring” I may have had, it’s got a very exciting menu featuring some items heretofore unavailable in the Duke City.  Among the eight uncommon to Albuquerque appetizers are Mee Krob, Sheldon Cooper’s favorite Thai dish and Thai toast.  There are six salads on the menu along with five soups.  Five one-of-a-kind specialty dishes adorn the Chef’s Collection section of the menu.  These include a Thai Boran Beef Steak, grilled and sliced marinated beef steak served with a spicy tomato sauce. Other sections of the menu are dedicated to curry, rice, pan-fried noodles, noodle soups and entrees.  All total there are 53 items on the menu.

Ka Thong Tong

7 July 2018:  Sometime around 2010, toast become the latest artisanal food craze.  Yes, toast, the most popular of which is probably avocado toast (available at Cafe Bella in Rio Rancho).   The Washington Post believes in fact that “avocado toast has come to define what makes food trends this decade: It’s healthy and yet ever-so-slightly indulgent.”  Thai Toast may be Thailand’s answer to avocado toast, all indications being it’s a relatively new dish.  It’s certainly not a dish you find in other Thai restaurants across the Duke City.  Four small slices sans crust of egg-dipped white bread topped with ground pork, green onions, then deep fried are served with a cucumber salad.  At the very least, it’s a very interesting dish–not as good as other Thai appetizers, but good enough to try more than once.

5 April 2018:  Another interesting appetizer whose name (with a little imagination and thought) will make the sophomoric among us giggle is Ka Thong Tong (crispy golden cups filled with ground chicken, mint, shrimp, peas, carrots and corn) served with cucumber salad.  If it’s offered at any other Thai restaurant in town, neither my friend Bill Resnik nor I could recall having seen it.  There are elements to this starter that seem to bespeak of other than Thai influences.  First, the pastry cups are vaguely reminiscent of layered phyllo Greek pastries though not quite as flaky.  The other influence was American with the trio of peas, carrots and corn, a combination neither of us had seen on Thai food.  Sadly, the accompanying cucumber salad was too cloying to add to the golden cups which we both thought needed a bit more flavor push.

Mee Krob

5 April 2018: My friend Bill is much more averse to the melding of sweet and savory flavors than I am so it was a surprise to me that he suggested mee krob as our second appetizer.  Aside from being Sheldon Cooper’s favorite Thai dish, mee krob is a dish often made as sweet as some breakfast cereals.  “It’s all about texture,” he reminded me about mee krob.  Indeed, mee krob which translates from Thai to “crispy noodles” are deep-fried rice noodles that crisp and puff up when fried.  They are then tossed with a sweet-and-sour-flavored stir-fry.  Alas, the emphasis on Thai Boran’s was more sweet than sour.  The stir-fry included chicken, shrimp and bean sprouts.  Texturally the noodles are reminiscent of Quaker’s Puffed Rice cereal.  Despite being almost as sweet as Puffed Rice, this is a fun (but messy) dish to eat.

7 July 2017: The curry section of the menu includes three curry dishes not all that common in Albuquerque: eggplant curry, pineapple curry and duck curry.  Duck curry (red curry, cherry tomato, grapes, bell pepper, basil, and coconut milk) has been among my very favorite curry dishes since first enjoying it at the transformative Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Thai Boran’s version is quite good showcasing tender slices of slow-cooked duck breast with enough fat for rich, unctuous flavor.  The combination of acidic cherry tomatoes and sweet grapes is especially intriguing, but what brings it all together is a rich red curry prepared at Thai hot (not for the faint of heart).  This dish is served with your choice of steamed Jasmine rice or brown rice. 

Duck Curry

5 April 2018:  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  Though it’s always been my practice to avoid seafood mixed with elements that detract from its natural briny sweetness, I ordered Thai Boran’s seafood curry special at the “New Mexico hot” level.  Heat levels tend to vary from one Thai restaurant to another.  “New Mexico hot” can be either incendiary and tongue-scorching or rather on the mellow side.  Thai Boran’s New Mexico hot is about as piquant as a bell pepper, rendering the red curry too sweet for my tastes.  That’s a shame because the netful of seafood (New Zealand green-lip mussels, catfish, shrimp and squid) swam beautifully in the curry.  The seafood was perfectly sweet and succulent, but the sugary-sweet curry just didn’t cut it for me.  Next time it’ll be Thai hot.

Seafood Curry

There aren’t many Thai restaurants in Albuquerque’s burgeoning west side.  Thai Boran is within a mile or so of Thai Cuisine, a long-time favorite.  Boring names not withstanding, both are good options for Thai cuisine.

Thai Boran
3236 La Orilla Road, N.W., Suite B
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 492-2244
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 April 2018
1st VISIT: 7 July 2017
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING:  18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Duck Curry, Thai Toast, Seafood Curry, Mee Krob, Ka Thong Tong

Thai Boran Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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