Insane for Thai Esane

Added on by Tabitha.

Turns out, I can get a tad obsessive about a restaurant I like. Since getting back from my trip home, I've been to Thai Esane more than I want to admit and I've practiced a lot of restraint and not posted every damn thing I've eaten there on Instagram but trust me when I say I've been there a lot. Like, a LOT a lot.

Is the food really that good? Yes. Yes it is. Frankly, it's what's helped me get over being homesick because it's all flavors that remind me of my part of the world. Eating at Thai Esane makes me very very happy.

Thai Esane (eh-sahn) is run by Nina Sayasack and her husband Tim. Nina's family also owns another favorite restaurant of mine, King Market out in Antioch. I'd mentioned King Market in a list of restaurants I love from a few years ago. Fun fact: to convince me to go the first time, all my friend Vivek (someone who's been there more than I have) had to say was "It's the same people who own King."

SOLD.

The menu is not as extensive as King Market's but that's about to change since customers are asking for some King Market favorites so don't be surprised if you go today and the menu gets updated and changes the next time you're there (Nina's a perfectionist that way).

My personal favorite that I first had at King Market is their kao piak (disguised by being listed as an unassuming "Chicken noodle soup") and I encourage highly recommend insist you try it. It's not your average chicken noodle soup - the noodles are hand made right there, and the broth, ohhhhh the broth! It's so fragrant and flavorful with strips of pulled chicken that add a great texture and it's garnished with crispy garlic and (unless you hate it and you can request to not have any on there) loads of cilantro.

Dish from home it most reminds me of: bee tai mak

To be honest, all I really ever ordered when I went out to KM was the chicken noodle soup. I've had bites of their other dishes before like the larb (also good, get the pork). What I never had was the Malaysian noodles. A customer of theirs in Antioch is Malaysian so he told them what the noodles entailed - wide, flat rice noodles, a sweet black sauce, egg, bean sprouts, chinese sausage, fry it all up. This is another dish that, if you haven't ordered, you must get. If you like it spicy, order it hot. It's fantastic. Oh, slightly random but not really )especially if you follow me on Instagram): if there ever was a dish that could be called "Singapore noodles" on a menu anywhere, it'd be this dish because what it essentially is is something we call char kuay teow (fried wide rice noodles). It's like chicken rice - you can find it everywhere in Singapore and it is GOOD.

Here's what I recommend when you go to Thai Esane. To start, order the Esane Sausage. It's enough to share, or you can get it just for yourself as your entree since it comes with sticky rice and the worst that happens is you can take what you don't eat home and eat it for your next meal or breakfast. Also good to share for appetizers are their chicken wings, the deep fried pork short ribs and the chicken lemongrass skewer. Not into the deep-fried? First of all, why are you here? I'm kidding, of course - I'm really glad you're here in spite of my obsession with decadent dining choices. Anyway if fried meat isn't for you, try the papaya salad - it comes three ways: regular with lime, tomato or if you're feeling adventurous try it Esane style (fish sauce and shrimp paste and tamarind sauce so it's not for the faint of heart) or Thai style (fish sauce, crushed peanuts, lime juice, tomato) which is milder.

Then tackle the main dishes. The ones I've had and really like are the Mee Krob (crispy noodles in a thicker brown sauce), Kao Soy (wide, flat rice noodles in a tomato based sauce with minced meat and tons of veggies). I finally tried their pho and I will say, the broth they make for it is so light and tasty and I don't foresee myself going back to Charlotte Pike for pho as long as Thai Esane's around. 

Click to view the pictures, hover your cursor over the image to read the description.

Really, there's no one dish I recommend over anything else because it depends on what you want that day. Some days I crave comfort food so I go for the chicken noodle soup. Some days I want my ass kicked by spice so I get Malaysian noodles or drunken noodles. Other days, I'm homesick and I want something else I can order at home so I get the lad na or mee krob. One of the many things I love about Thai Esane is how every dish has a good amount of vegetables and ingredients and the veggies are fresh and crunchy. The servers know the dishes and will recommend their favorites.

The spice level is consistent and what's nice about spicy Asian food is that you can still taste what you're eating. Now, I'm not recommending you do this, because native Thai food can be super spicy but if you consider yourself a spice fiend, maybe order something "Nina hot." I think it's their "Shut the cluck up" so don't say I didn't warn you.

Thai Esane  |  907 12th Ave South, Nashville 37216 | @ThaiEsane
M - Th: 11 - 9 | F-Sat: 11 - 10:30

Charleston: McCrady's & Gin Joint

Added on by Tabitha.

There are several cities on my travel bucket list, one of which is Charleston, SC. I was fortunate enough to have a reason to go a few months ago for a summit, and I ended up rooming with my friend Beth who is a fantastic travel companion and food buddy.

I'd never been to Charleston before so I left 98% of the restaurant planning to her and she didn't let me down. But I got to pick the restaurant we went to our first evening there - McCrady's.

Being the professional eaters we are, we each ordered different dishes for our 4-course tasting that we both would enjoy so we could share and taste it all. The buddy system works, yall. Try it.

We loved the beef tartare - it had a very earthy flavor to it, most likely from the hay-roasted beets. By the way, it's super red in the picture not because of my editing but because of the beet. The ribeye I ordered for my entree had a pistachio and lime puree that I wish I could replicate - it was like a sexy, buttery umami that went so well with the beef. I think it's safe to say that McCrady's Chef de Cuisine, Daniel Heinze is a genius.

Best part of the meal was Beth's dessert - the Frozen Parfait of Grits, Geranium and Preserved Dewberry that, when it arrived, had an odd and vinegary scent to it but once she cracked into the crisp layer over the grit ice cream, something happened and suddenly it was like we were rolling around in a fragrant, floral garden. It was SO good! If "pretty" had a flavor, that dessert would be it.

After dinner, we headed over to the Gin Join for one more round of dessert and drinks (water for me) with the lovely ladies from Hester & Cook. Beth ordered the peanut butter chocolate bar for us to share. Don't let the innocent name fool you, that chocolate bar was decadent and fun to eat because it had sea salt, dulce de leche, pretzels and pop rocks!

All-in-all, a great start to Charleston.

Pardon the grainy pictures - McCrady's is a pretty swanky place so we had to be really quick/stealthy with pictures and there was no time for composition and I refuse to use the flash. For the rest of our meals and the trip to Charleston, visit Beth's recap here.

Potato Head Folk: Singapore

Added on by Tabitha.

There are so many things I want to tell you all about my trip back to Singapore! My sister got married and that day itself warrants two blog posts so I'll tackle that later. For now, I'll start with the easy highlights which, naturally, are about food.

I spent most of my time tagging along with my sister to her appointments and we met up with her colleague at Potato Head Folk for some burgers. The local food in Singapore can't be beat, but sometimes you just want a good burger and good western food.

potato-head-folk-singapore

A little history: Potato Head first opened in Jarkarta (Potato Head Garage) then expanded in to Bali where they have a boutique hotel and three bars on their property. If you're in Seminyak in Bali, I cannot recommend it enough for a meal or just drinks but most of all, for a killer view of the sunset.

Their third location is Potato Head Folk in Singapore. It's a restaurant and bar set-up and they'd JUST opened the weekend before so I'm glad we managed to get a table!

We split 2 burgers, slaw and something called Naughty Fries (Spiced béarnaise, beef chilli, crisp shallots, parmesan & sesame seeds). We weren't quite sure how big the burgers were so we figured sharing was a good bet. Given all the food we got, we were full but I can vouch that the burgers are the perfect size for one person, just get some sides to share.

The slaw was delicious - really crisp, fresh veggies, not overly creamy and refreshing enough that it balanced out those decadent fries.

For our burgers, we got the Honky Tonk (I kinda had to!!) which is a soya milk fried chicken, coleslaw, lettuce, hot sauce & den miso mayo, and the Burning Man, a burger with a 150g beef patty, cheese, roasted jalapeño relish, hot ketchup & dashi mayo. The Honky Tonk was the favorite.

Three Buns makes their own sodas and they apparently have really good cocktails but, as you know, I don't drink so I'll have to take my friends' words for it.

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Potato Head takes up the entire corner unit shophouse with Three Buns' kitchen on the ground floor and tall tables for dining or drinks if you don't mind the heat. The next floor up is set up like a living room and this is the restaurant/dining area. I loved mid-century looking furniture against the colorful walls and accents. The next floor up is the bar that's by reservation only but they do have a rooftop bar (these are growing in popularity in Singapore) that I think doesn't require reservations.

It's a neat little spot in the Keong Saik area that already has lots of new, trendy restaurants and bars. Burnt Ends is nearby, then there's The Library, one of those password only, speakeasy type places that's been there for years and is still thriving.

Next time we're back in Singapore, I'll be taking The Husband to Three Buns. And who knows, maybe I'll try a cocktail!

Potato Head Folk/Three Buns | 36 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089143