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Archive for December 1st, 2006

I went to a sort of hole-in-the-wall family owned and run Thai place in the East Village called Kai Kai Thai.   There’s a Kai Kai on the west side too, but I don’t think they’re related.  You should all check out the website because I’ve recently discovered that their menu portion comes equipped with pictures of each dish!  I always thought all menus should do this, especially for tourists and people who don’t know the language or don’t know the cuisine, they can point and order. 

kai kai thai
looking in from the outside

So the layout of Kai Kai reminds me of the arepas, Caracas place I went to a while back.  The restaurant is split into two sections, the “to go” area and the “dine in” section where you go through the “to go” area to get to.  The tables and chairs definitely need updating, my friend almost broke his chair because it was wobbling so much.  Our table had the words “kai kai” tattooed on it, which was nicer than all the other furniture put together.  The wall is lined with shelves of specialty Thai foods.  I love the whole “stuff on the wall” concept, which is one of the reasons why I’m always willing to go to Applebees even though I’m not a chain restaurant person- also, I love their mashed potatoes.   

 kai kai wall table

Since Kai Kai is BYOB, I brought the bottle of Cabernet Savignon that I took from an open house I went to the previous day to share.  In the picture, you can also see the thai iced tea I ordered.  I think the novelty of serving drinks in jar like cups has run off on me.   I’m by no means a sommelier, but I can say I really enjoy this one.  It was pretty full bodied with a hint of a sweet fruity taste so the aftertaste wasn’t harsh and it wasn’t corky at all.  I hate corky wines.  I’d say the Sea Star would be a good way to go if you’re looking for a good cheap red.  On the same hand, the thai iced tea was strong and flavorful- just like any Asian tea should be.  There was also a lot of it so that made me happy.  Of course, I’m not sure how well wine and tea mixes, but I did it anyways.

thai iced tea

 All items on the menu are under $10 so we decided to go a little nuts and just order random dishes.  We got two appetizers, the chicken satay and the spicy chicken summer roll.  I knew that lower prices would mean smaller portions but we had three people, they could’ve given us three chicken satays!  The chicken was on the dry and bland side but the sauce made up for the meat.  The peanut sauce was a bit watery but it had a good if mild but still peanut-y taste.  The summer roll skimped on the chicken and it wasn’t very spicy.  The few pieces of chicken had a little bit of chili pepper on them but the roll had mostly filler, ie. rice noodles, carrots, and bean sprouts.  Since I don’t get to eat summer rolls very often due to my seafood allergies [summer rolls usually come with shrimp], the amount of chicken didn’t bother me as much as it did my fellow eating mates.  The sauce given for the summer roll is the Chinese hoisin sauce with a few peanut pieces sprinkled on top.  I prefer the peanut sauce myself so I just dipped the summer roll into that.

chicken satay chicken summer roll

I ordered the chicken pad si ew noodles for my entree.  On days I’m not craving curry, I always have difficulty deciding between drunk man’s noodles, pad thai, and the pad si ew.  The pad si ew consists of flat broad noodles in a sweet brown sauce with Chinese broccoli and chicken.  I always like when places use Chinese broccoli instead of Western broccoli, because 1. I like the taste, and 2. I think it just goes better with Asian dishes.  Some of the broccoli were kind of old [that’s how we describe in Chinese; think: overly ripe and past its prime] so the broccoli didn’t really break down as well as it should’ve when I chewed it.  Although not all the broccoli was like this, just a few pieces.  The veggies that weren’t too … old were good by itself.  Moving on… so the chicken was a little better than the chicken of the chicken satay, but the flavor was still absent.  The sauce was really good though and the way it seeped into the noodles was fabulous.  The best way to eat this dish is to wrap the chicken in the noodles so you get a bit of meat with each big mouthful of noodles.   

chicken pad siew
i always hated how asian food photographed worse than it tastes

Daniel got the duck pad ki mow; broad noodles with duck, onions, eggs, veggies, eggs, and tomatoes in a spicy sauce.  I liked how hearty his dish was – there were so many more things here than my dish [not that I really minded for myself].  I don’t know where the tomatoes came from, but I didn’t think it belonged in the dish.  The spiciness of the sauce didn’t overpower the ingredients of the dish.  However, there was mostly duck skin and not enough duck meat in this dish.  Duck skin generally has a huge layer of fat between it and the meat, so there was generally a lot of skin, a lot of fat, and a tiny bit of meat.  Typical fatty Daniel loved it that way, but not me.  I fished for a meat only piece. 

duck pad see mao

Caled eyed the chicken and shrimp with glass noodles wrapped with egg and decided on that as an entree.  Basically all the ingredients were put into a ginormous egg omelet just waiting to be dissected.  In China, there are several types of glass noodles and no matter how often I order glass noodles in the U.S. and know what to expect, I always secretly hope for the ones I had in China.  Anyways, that’s not the point- I’ll go into my freaky knowledge about rice and noods another day.  Caled enjoyed opening his dish up like he had a scalpel in his hand and he said the insides didn’t disappoint.  I love eggs in Asian noodle dishes- it just gives it an extra something.  Also, the plate was cleaned and he gave it a thumbs up. 

clear noods egg wrap inside egg wrap
looks like omu-noods from the outside // piping out goodness inside

If you choose one of the “pads” [pad thai, pad si ew, pad ki mow], you can choose from an array of meats or veggie items.  I like that this place offers duck, which isn’t usually a choice.  For a total of about $40, we got a lot of food and were quite full in the end.  This is definitely not a place someone comes for the ambiance, because what is there is considered a bare minimum [aside from my beloved “stuff on the wall”].  Come to this place if you’re on a budget and not looking to deal with the crowds.  I would definitely come back here for its cheap eats. 

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