As I’ve mentioned before, I love Thai food. I don’t know that its my favorite ethnic cuisine, but, it certainly ranks within the top three. And that love for Thai food revolves pretty much around one dish: Pad Thai. I’ve tried a few other Thai dishes that I really enjoyed, mostly noodle dishes with a gravy, but, it’s been years since that time and I really do not recall what they were called. I’ve tried to find those on Thai restaurant menus to no avail, as nothing really seams familiar. That being said, I still prefer Pad Thai to those other dishes. However, I did want to expand my experience of Thai cuisine so with the gentle urging of my husband, I did just that with this visit to Kesone Thai Lao Bistro, another Living Social restaurant find . . .
Location: 2600 NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland, Oregon
Order: for an appetizer, my husband and I shared an order of Crispy Spring Rolls. My husband ordered the Pad Thai with Chicken ($7.50) while I tried the Pad King with Chicken ($7.50). And of course, I had to have a Thai Iced Tea!
What I Think:
This small restaurant was empty when we arrived (with the exception of one guest who was waiting for a to-go order), then again, we arrived just before they close for the afternoon (they close between the hours of 3 pm and 4 pm to prepare for their dinner service). Had I read their website a bit more carefully I would have noticed this and been a bit more observant to their closing time.
The decor of the restaurant is nothing fancy but the tables were clean and I felt at ease with my surroundings. The service was fast (which probably had something to do with the fact that we were the only guests to be served). I was very pleased by the size of the Thai Iced Tea – it was quite large! Unfortunately, the tea tasted slightly watered down. The black tea had notes of bitterness to it, which suggested that perhaps the tea had been steeped too long. It was still drinkable, but, not the most enjoyable Thai Iced Tea I’ve had.
Our Spring Rolls arrived at the same time our entrees arrived. In most cases, I prefer my appetizer to arrive a little before the entrees, however, the food arrived so quickly that it wasn’t as though we were waiting for either dish. The Spring Rolls were a little dark in color (looking as though they might have been cooked just a bit too long), but they didn’t taste burnt. They were crispy and delicious. I especially enjoyed the sauce which was pungent with garlic with a nice balance of sweet and sour.
My husband and I shared our entrees. The Pad Thai was ordered with a heat level of 2 – 3 (the server asked on a scale of 1 – 5 how spicy he would like it to be), and in my opinion, it was a pleasant amount of heat, although my husband said he would have liked it a tad spicier, and next time he will probably order it at a level 3 – 4 instead. The chicken was tender, and I enjoyed the ratio of noodle to sauce. The sauce did not taste too fishy nor smell too fishy, which made me happy. It was certainly a tasty Pad Thai, and while it isn’t my favorite Pad Thai of Portland, it was my husband’s favorite of the ones we have tried thus far.
The Pad King was a bit of an adventure for me, as I had not tried it before. The onions were nicely caramelized and the rice was cooked perfectly. The sauce of this dish was very flavorful; however, it had a flavor that I think would have been more complementary to beef rather than chicken, as it had a very substantial, almost beefy sort of flavor to it. The sauce seemed to overwhelm the chicken, and if I were to order this dish sometime in the future I would definitely order it as a beef dish, and that is how I’d recommend ordering it.
My favorite part of this dish were the mushrooms, which lent a nice texture and delicious flavor to the dish and it is because of their somewhat woody flavor that I suspect beef would have been a better meat choice for this dish (tofu would also make a nice choice). The green beans had a slightly rubbery texture, and I didn’t find this to be too appealing. Overall, I found the dish to be agreeable, but I think I would have been happier if I had chosen the Pad Thai.
My Final Thoughts:
While I wasn’t totally pleased with my Pad King, I am happy that I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone and try something a little different. The flavors were definitely there in each of these dishes, and overall, I enjoyed my visit to Kesone Thai Lao Bistro, and we will no doubt be returning at some point. Mostly, I was just happy to be eating Thai food again!