Noi – Prague

With the fall season slowly encroaching on our last days of summer here in Prague, we’re doing everything we can to soak up every warm summer night.  Prague’s Thai restaurant, Noi, offered us a good place to enjoy a meal outdoors on a balmy evening last week.

I’ve eaten at Noi several times (Mrs. NH has eaten there a few more) and Noi never ceases to satisfy.  The patio in the courtyard just outside the back of the restaurant is a secluded, shaded area with about five tables.  It’s a nice quite place to enjoy the fruits of Noi’s kitchen.  On this particular occasion, Mrs. NH had the Vegetable Spring Rolls as a starter followed by the “Neur Phad Kra-Prao,” described as Beef minced with green beans, onions, garlic, chilies and fresh basil leaves.  She was thrilled with both dishes exclaiming, “They remembered the green beans this time!”  I guess it was fine the other time without them since she ordered it again this time.  I can see why.  It was a great dish with bold spice that really went well with the sticky steamed rice.  It’s the flavor that my taste bud imagination conjures up when someone says “Thai food.”

"Neur Phad Kra-Prao" or Beef minced with green beans, onions, garlic, chilies and fresh basil leaves
"Neur Phad Kra-Prao" or Beef minced with green beans, onions, garlic, chilies and fresh basil leaves

My dishes were equally successful.  I had the Chicken Satay followed by the “Khao Phad Koong” or, shrimp with rice, eggs, carrots, onions, spring onions and tomatoes.  It was essentially a fried rice Pad Thai and hit all the right notes as Thai comfort food.  The rice was the perfect texture, slightly fried and really full of flavor.  The shrimp itself was perfectly cooked.  Sometimes the shrimp ends up rubbery in other establishments – but at Noi, they do it just right.  Snappy, steamy and really fresh tasting.  As always, the Satay starter was delicious.  It’s a simple skewer of chicken with a thick, chunky peanut sauce that would be good enough eat with a spoon on its own.

"Khao Phad Koong" or, shrimp with rice, eggs, carrots, onions, spring onions and tomatoes
"Khao Phad Koong" or, shrimp with rice, eggs, carrots, onions, spring onions and tomatoes

Little NHer enjoyed the meal as well.  She got her own chicken satay (or “bock-bock” as she calls it) and enjoyed rice from both of our dishes.  She even had a few bites of Spring Roll for the first time.  Good taste, that kid.

The wine selection was made by Mrs. NH.  She usually does the honors and this time she was in the mood for a rosé.  I didn’t stand in her way.  I really never do when it comes to wine for fear of being run over.  She liked the Spanish rosé they served (the only one on the menu) but I thought it fell too far into the “sweet-tart” spectrum.  It was passable, though not superlative.

That being said, I really like Noi.  The service is great, the atmosphere, both inside and  out, is top notch and the food is tasty and consistent.  Well, consistent with the exception of the green beans.  If you can take that gamble, you’ll love Noi.

Thai Basil

Asian cooking week continues here in the NH household.  My basil crop out on the porch is going gangbusters this year and I needed a good recipe to use up some of the tops of the plants before they even think about flowering.  So, this was a simple recipe to accomplish that goal while making Mrs. NH incredibly happy.  This is her favorite Thai dish and I managed to make it just to her liking.  I’ll admit, it was excellent.

Thai Basil
Saute on medium-hi heat:
3 chicken breasts frozen and sliced as thin as you can (I freeze them first)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small spicy red chilis (I use the ones the Asian markets have)

Then add these:
splash of water
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (naam pla)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
ground black pepper

Finish it up with these:
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1 squeezed lime