September 20th, 2011 | by RUTH BROWN Food & Drink |

Pok Pok's Andy Ricker To Expand Empire

So what the hell is kaeng kiaw waan kai, anyway?

pokpokNoodles at Pok Pok - Image by San Fran Annie on Flickr
As reported everywhere this week, Thai restaurant tycoon Andy Ricker has announced he will be opening a third eatery on Southeast Division Street, already home to Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge. Ricker has scored the building soon to be vacated by Kappaya Restaurant at Southeast 33rd Avenue, where he plans to open a restaurant based on a Thai “khao kaeng” (rice and curry) shop. But instead of just copying and pasting Ricker’s press release, let’s take a look at what it’s actually saying:
"…we will be opening a new casual restaurant there based on something called "raan khao kaeng" in Thai: basically a curry-on-rice house featuring dishes such as Kaeng Som (spicy southern Thai style), Kaeng Naw Mai Dong, Kaeng Kiaw Waan Kai, Kaeng Om Neua, Kaeng Kati Tap Neua and maybe even some standards such as Kaeng Phet Pet Yaang, using our duck oven to roast the ducks. Also, a dedicated Khanom Jiin station offering 3 or 4 different sauces to top the noodles with."

In Thailand, Khao kaeng (or khao gaeng) shops are little stalls that sell a variety of curries and soups (and sometimes vegetables and salad). It’s a bit like a deli or a food court: the curries are already prepared and spooned out into your plate of rice, making them both quick and cheap, and subsequently popular spots for a fast lunch or a takeout dinner. I can't find a non-copyright image to put here, so you can see one here to demonstrate.

Firstly, those who cry about the lack of familiar curries at Ricker’s other locales will be pleased to hear that “kaeng kiaw waan kai” is green chicken curry, “kaeng phet pet yaang” is red duck curry, and “kaeng kati tap neua” is, I think, yellow beef curry (bit shaky on the “tap” bit, though). “Kaeng som” is a sour soupy curry, “kaeng naw mai dong” is, I think, a Lao-style bamboo shoot soup. “Kaeng om neua” I only know because it’s been on the menu at Pok Pok previously; it’s a northern-style beef stew.

Khanom jiin” is sort of the less-famous cousin of khao soi: fermented rice vermicelli also served with various soupy curries, and often a plate of fresh accouterments (a bit like pho).

The new venture is still without an opening date or name. We generously offer the following suggestions to Mr Ricker in the glorious tradition of Thai restaurants with bad pun names:

Thai-lenol, Tongue Thai, Thai Dye, Black Thai, Thai Bo, Dinner Thaime, Mike Thaison.

You’re welcome.

 
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