Food fit for a King
Closes at 7:30 pm
for the answer to the mystery food,
scroll down to the bottom of this post.
So the story goes, I get this energized phone call from my fire eating friend and her family on a Monday after they ate at King Market and Laos Thai Cafe. They insisted on me meeting them at King the next evening after work to dine there. They called a bunch of their other friends to join them on Tuesday. So, we all show up, and walked into the market an followed the signs for cafe hanging from the ceiling. The cafe was filled with a lot of East Asian customers, us and a cop. This is a family owned business, and the table staff are the the 20 something aged kids of the cook and dish washer. The kids are so friendly, and are so happy to see people enjoying their food. The kids took a lot of time with us to describe the dishes we had questions about. They were so nice! I should know they were nice because I actually went back 3 times this past week! LOL!
We ordered fresh coconut juice, fresh squeezed cane juice, spring rolls, tom ka gai, chicken larb, pad mee kao, green curry, papaya salad, and pad sen lon. When we were done with the coconut juice, they broke open the coconut for us to eat the white juicy flesh. What fun we had with coconut. The cane juice was sweet, but not so over the top sugary. It was refreshing. The spring rolls are like fresh Thai or Vietnamese rolls, but the dipping sauce is just a bit different, it is Laos style dipping sauce. The tom ka gai was made fresh for us, and was enough to serve 6 people. Don't worry, if you don't finish it, they have to-go containers for soup. Or better yet, bring your own quart jar and take your left overs home with you. The soup was really smooth, not a lot of salt was used, not a lot if fish sauce was used, so I enjoyed it. As the young lady dropped of the larb to our table, she mentioned that the chopped chicken meat also includes chicken livers. The dish was spicy and yummy. The pad mee kao is made with dried rice noodles, and is the most popular dish they serve. This one was spicy spicy spicy too! Pad sen lon is made with clear bean thread noodles and some Thai basil, spicy spicy spicy too! But, the dish of resistence was the papaya salad. It was julienned green papaya mixed with red and green hot peppers. One taste for me, I started to sweat. Fire eater is the only one who could eat this dish. She turned a little rosy in color, but she ate it like a regular green salad. I have come to understand that Laotian food is even more firery than Thai food! If you go and order Laos style hot, you are asking for a burn more than any other burn you have ever experienced. It is hot!
Here is a little secret. It is true, and you may have heard of this before. If you go to an East Asian restaurant, like a Chinese restaurant in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles (I know by experience) there is a hidden menu that only people in the know. There is at least Asian restaurant in Nashville that I know of that has a secret menu. So, for the ones who don't know about the menu, they are relegated to the nasty sweet and sour Americanized food, and none of the real deal. The upswing about King is that all the English menu items are authentic Laos and Thai food. But, King also has a secret menu. They have noodle soups with a broad homemade rice noodle that looks like udon, and the broth and toppings are like tom yum and vegetables. King will also cater to the "old world" clients who gather up some items from the grocery store, and mom in the kitchen will cook up whatever Laos or Thai dish the want. On Friday and Saturday, they have some East Asian delicacies that you cannot find anywhere else in Nashville. They offer balut, Laos style chitlins, pig feet and eggs in black vinegar sauce, house made roasted duck and an East Asian style roasted pork that I have not had in over a year. They also offer a variety of mangos, now that the stupid USA import ban has been lifted on all great mango varieties except for that one reddish green one.
I really enjoyed the hospitality on all 3 visits last week. I enjoyed the menu items I opted for, and eventhough they are menu items, they were not "dumbed down" nor Americanized. They were straight forward Laos family home cooking. Next time, I am going to order from the secret menu and get a spicy noodle soup made with house made noodles. I am also going to try and get a roasted duck too. The ducks go fast, so I better get there early!