By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Fabled pad Thai assumes an unusual form. Most examples are pasted with cheap sauces rendered from ketchup and less-than-fresh ingredients such as freezer-burned shrimp from a sack and dry chicken choked in sticky knots of overcooked noodles. And then there's the egg: limp strips that gradually fray and liquefy into the overall mesh. Nikhon pad Thai is covered with a blanket made of a paper-thin omelet over the spread of noodles, chicken, sprouts, cabbage, carrot, kafir lime leaves and long strips of scallion. The omelet nearly stretches to the edges of the plate. It's an ingenious way to keep the egg supple and relevant in a dish that always risks degenerating into an ethnic swamp. Noodles are firm, separate and slathered in rich tamarind sauce surging with zest and spark offset by a shadowy sweetness that creeps in the background. There's a lime on the plate edge to choke that off if need be.
Aromatic seafood panang with bell pepper and kafir lime leaf strikes an exquisite balance between coconut milk's sweet richness and pepper's sear. The only glitch is that surimi stunt-doubles for real crab amongst the pieces of moist fish, firm and sweet shrimp, pointed tubes of rolled and chewy calamari, and a single mussel with a clean sea spray nutty taste.
Nakhon is fresh and robust--a riveting Thai dining experience. Yet not everything is imported from Thailand. On one visit, streams from the sound system sounded like Thai pop. On another visit, it was Muzak that would have done a Fort Worth supper club proud. Kind of made you wish for a chicken-fried whole snapper if only to round out the vibe. 1116 W. Parker Road, No. 300, Plano, 972-943-8998. Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday. $$