By now, we are all aware of the wonder that is Thai Xing. Very little can be done to compete with their succulent pumpkin curry or the papaya salad. Little Serow offers something a bit different for the adventurous. Boasting a line outside of the door of patrons waiting to sample their wares and a four star yelp rating, Little Serow is a horse of a different color.
Little Serow is owned by the creators of Komi. Concentrating on North and Northeastern Thai cuisine, the Little Serow offers a tasting menu rivaled by few others. While some find this style refreshing and adventurous, others are not quite as fond. There are no substitutions, no requests, and no reservations. The menu changes each week, so be sure to take a look before venturing over. Oh, and by the way, they don’t take parties larger than 4 people so plan accordingly.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the first wave of diners, you’ll be ushered into a basement oasis of cool mint green reminiscent of the 1950’s. Adding to the perfection of the decor are the waitresses, who further embody the style of the 1950’s. I fell in love with our server’s berry red lip gloss, polka dot mint green dress, and sunny smile.
For starters the entire meal is meant to be eaten with an array of colorful vegetables, almost too beautiful to eat and delicate little woven baskets of sticky rice.
Or fist course was composed of pork rinds with a spicy seaweed eggplant dip. The saltiness of the pork rinds and the spiciness of the dip perfectly complimented each other, leaving me to wonder why more establishments did not make better use of this delicacy.
The next course was Tim Sap Gapi. The soup was served cold with strong flavors of lemon grass and scallion. While I am not usually a fan of cold soup, and as shocking as the flavors were, I found this dish to be wholly and simply pleasing.
The Soop Naw Mai (Snake Fish Head with Rice Powder and bamboo shoots), by this point if the waitress hadn’t been there to tell me what I was shoving into my mouth with reckless abandon I would have had no clue. Fortunately the servers at Little Serow are rock stars at their jobs, guiding guests through the meal with the skill of a seasoned driver. This dish was tasty enough that after the first bite there was no slowing down. Savory with bits of crisp, the flavors were like nothing I had ever experienced: sour and pungent, mellowing into a pleasant white fish at the end.
Following this dish was the gai laap chiang mai (chicken liver, sawtooth, long pepper). If you’re not a fan of liver, this probably won’t be one of your favorite dishes. Even so, I urge you to try it. While the dish does have the traditional mineral like taste and texture associated with liver, layered into that familiar flavor is a myriad of flavors wholly new and unknown. I enjoyed this dish quite a bit and would highly recommend putting aside preconceived notions of disliking liver and diving right in.
The next dish was probably my least favorite of the entire evening. My companion however fell in love with it on the first bite. Naem Khao Tod (crispy rice, sour pork, peanuts) was a pungent swirl of sour, sweet flavors that kept me guessing every time it hit my taste buds. The flavors in this dish are incredibly polarizing; you either love it or you hate it. I was in the latter category, but everyone else I’ve discussed it with was in love.
The final dish Si Krong Muu (pork ribs, mekhong whiskey, dill), was by far my favorite, but then again pork is almost cheating. The ribs were delicate and tiny, but perfectly seasoned. The fell off the bone if you stared at them too long. This wasn’t much of a problem since people were stuffing them into their mouths as fast as possible.
All in all, Little Serow is an adventure worth having over and over again. If you time it right, the adventure might be new each time you visit. While Thai Xing will always be my favorite, Little Serow has the unique talent of forcing you outside of your comfort zone into an entirely new experience while making you feel like you’re right at home.