Thursday, June 2, 2016

Portland Restaurant: Hat Yai

What: Hat Yai
Where: 1605 N.E. Killingsworth St.
Honeys Heart: Fried Chicken & Curry Broth

Doug and I are those obnoxious people who went to Thailand on our honeymoon and have since claimed Thai food as "our thing".

We unabashedly love Nong's, visit Langbaan as frequently as our wallets will allow (so, once a year), and have been known to pick up visitors from the airport and drive them straight to Pok Pok.

So you can understand that we were pretty excited when we heard about Hat Yai, a new restaurant focusing on dishes from Southern Thailand by Langbaan & Paadee's Earl Ninsom and St. Jack bartender Alan Akwai.

Hat Yai is located in a narrow space near La Taq/Podnah's. It's a counter service spot so the vibe is pretty casual.

The star of the menu is the Fried Mary's Chicken, available in different pieces and meant to be paired with Hat Yai's curry broth, sticky rice, and roti (Thai fried bread).

I got a little confused when ordering and somehow missed the option for the Hat Yai Combo ($17), which features all the items above. It was basically what everyone in the restaurant was eating, except for us. Sorry, Doug!

Instead, we ended up with an order of Wings ($6) plus the Beef Cheek Curry with Roti ($17), and the Khao Yum ($9), rice salad with shrimp powder, toasted coconut and herbs.

The wings were delicious, especially when dipped in the beef cheek curry. They're made with an herb and spice marinade featuring cumin, white pepper, coriander, and fresh garlic, and are topped with fried shallots- so there's lots of good flavors happening.

The beef cheek curry broth was rich and velvety, so while the portion of cheeks was fairly small, it ended up being the perfect amount.

The Khao Yum was probably our least favorite part of the meal, mostly because of the tiny red peppers that we realized were SUPER spicy only after we had mixed them into the salad. We ended up carefully picking around them, which is never the most enjoyable way to eat something.

We both also tried the Tamarind Whiskey Smash, made with bourbon, tamarind, mint, simple syrup and soda, which was super refreshing. 

And, while we rarely order dessert at restaurants (I know, poor me!), I decided we couldn't leave without sampling Hat Yai's Dessert Roti ($5). The dessert roti is topped with milo (a chocolate & malt powder that is popular in Thailand) and condensed milk. It might sound a little strange, but it was so good!

Doug is already plotting when we can go back to Hat Yai, partly so we can order properly (combo, here we come!), but mostly because it was so delicious.

It's also worth noting that Hat Yai is still in it's "soft-opening" phase- though you wouldn't guess it from how smoothly things seem to be going.