Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Couple of Recent Stops at Sap's


Sap’s Fine-Ass Thai Cuisine: A Couple of Recent Visits



Over the last three weeks I’ve dropped in to Sap’s South on the way home from work to grab a bite. I live way, way south, so it’s on my way. If I lived cntral or north, I would have stopped at the newer Burnet Road location, at the southwest corner of Burnet and Koenig Ln. The Thai food jones was overpowering, and I was hopelessly drawn to its spicy-sweet-sour-salty lure. The first visit was on a fairly warm day and I decided to start out with Num Tok Salad with pork, S-S3, a tart, refreshing treat flavored with lime, fish sauce, Thai chile, garlic, shallot, cilantro, mint, and roasted rice powder, a perfect foil for the sweet pork. On the side it gets crunchy lettuce, red onion rings, and tomato, and a side of nutty, fragrant brown jasmine rice. Num tok means “waterfall” in Thai, a reference to the sound of the cascading juices from the meat cooking. It’s traditionally grilled and then sliced, dressed, and served with fresh vegetables as an appetizer to have with drinks.



Num Tok Moo



Worked just fine for me, getting me all appetized for the main course, S-P 47, Pad Prik Gang, a luscious red curry spiced up with serrano chiles and green peppercorn, with Thai basil and Thai lime leaf. It’s a famous street vendor dish, but just as popular on restaurant menus. I got it with chicken, which was a good match with the pork salad. The rich, dark red coconut cream curry was a nice foil for the tart dressing of the salad. Pad prik gang is listed as four chiles on the menu, and it earns each of those icons. Love this dish.




Pad Prik Gaeng



About ten days later that gnawing jones was back in full force, pulling me inexorably towards the exit off of Mopac that would lead me towards Sap’s. This meal needed to be a little more rib-sticking, as I hadn’t found the time to eat all day, and I was starving.  I started with noodles, specifically SF-11, Guay Teaw Kua Gai, which is a stir fry with chicken, beaten egg, mung bean sprouts, pickled radish, and a complex soy-based sauce coating the sen yai wide rice noodles. The platter cokes with a pile of crispy lettuce on the side, and a ramekin of a sweet-tart honey-based dressing, which I pour over the whole plate. Top that with some of Sap’s roasted chile condiment, and a splash of fish sauce and serrano chile vinegar, and I’m good to go. This is probably my favorite Thai noodle stir fry, and it annoys me to no end when I constantly see tables eating pad Thai. Don’t get me wrong. Sap’s makes a fine pad Thai, but for god’s sakes folks, there are countless other Thai noodle options out there, almost all of them more complex and creative than pad Thai. Get out of your freakin’ noodle rut!





Guay Teaw Kua Gai



I had a craving for vegetables and that lead me straight to Sap’s Sweet and Sour stir fry, SP-28. Before you freak out and compare Thai sweet and sour to the typical gloppy, thick nasty Americanized-Chinese sweet and sour sauce that coats a too-thickly battered chicken nugget, let me assure you that these are two completely different critters. Thai sweet and sour is more tangy than sweet, and is just barely thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, with a whole host of layers of garlicky-ginger flavor going on. It goes with a fresh stir fry and nothing is battered. I ordered it with slices of moist pork, which comes with chunks of fresh pineapple, Asian eggplant, green beans, thick slices of white onion, wedges of tomato, and crunchy wood ear mushrooms. Look at this picture and one glance tells you this is a dish of a whole new color, even better when you match it with brown jasmine rice and give it a healthy sprinkle of ground Thai bird pepper. With both meals I ended up taking a good chunk of each dish home with me, since the portions are large and I couldn’t finish them in one sitting. But I’d be lying if I told you that those leftovers survived their first night at my house. Fantastic the first time, and just as good a few hours later. The best Thai food in town.



Sap's Sweet and Sour Pork....THAI Sweet and Sour (not what you think)


Mick Vann ©
 

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