Sunday, May 2, 2010

King Market

Nashville Restaurants and Food
King Market
1801 Antioch Pike

The kids are having shopping cart races in the aisles again and that’s fine with us. It’s just part of an enjoyable and laid back atmosphere that provides a good background for a leisurely lunch. King Market is a family place and that extends from the owners to the clientele. People go out shopping for groceries after church. They pick up some fresh basil and Lao sausage and then sit down in the tiny restaurant to have some pho and curry.

The menu crosses Laos, Thailand and Vietnam for an eclectic mix. The results are wonderful with bold flavors clearly aimed at a native audience. Hot here is actually hot. Start sweating a bit with the delightful Lao papaya salad. It brings to the plate spicy, pickled cabbage slaw and shredded green papaya in a sweet, sour and spicy combo. The Kang Kil Wan ordered hot will put even more sweat on the brow. The revved up coconut curry bathes bamboo shoots, Asian eggplant, bell peppers and basil. The beef is tender. Egg rolls are thick, interesting and also a little spicy.

For fun you can pick up an item or two from the little buffet line next to the counter. This morning brings fried banana and taro, a tasty and slightly greasy treat given a little pop with black sesame seeds. The fried bread is light and just a bit sweet.

Back to the restaurant side of the house: Laab is a type of meat salad made with coarse ground toasted rice. It’s served here with chicken, pork, shrimp or beef. The soups range from hot and sour Tom Yam to spicy Kao Phoun and a couple of varieties of pho. The in-store menu has some different spellings from the to-go menu, and some of these don’t match up to what you can find on the internet, so you may want to ask if you have a favorite.

At first glance there isn’t much for the Veggie Eater. A query with the young man waiting tables reveals that many dishes can have tofu substitute for meat

Veggie Eater: We started our first meal with some hot green tea; it needed to steep a bit in the pot, but once it did, it hit its stride. The menu on appearance is limited with veggie friendly options; most apps and soups have some sort of a meat component. At my first visit, I wasn’t sure how accommodating King’s would be, so I stuck to the menu and ordered Garlic Vegetables; it is exactly as it sounds; lots of vegetables, including broccoli, bamboo shoots, red peppers, cilantro, bok choy, stir fried with lots of garlic. Given the generous condiments on the table, you can basically dress it up any way you want. On my second visit, being a bit more comfortable, I outed myself as a vegetarian and asked for a suggestion. The waiter indicated virtually any of the dishes could be substituted with tofu. This being the case, I opted for the panang curry. The menu states a thick curry in coconut milk and vegetables. I don’t know that I’d call the curry thick and it was light on the coconut; it was more oily in texture than creamy. The menu indicates that it is a spicy hot item and it had a mild kick to it. Again there were carrots, broccoli florets, julienned broccoli stems, and some other greens I could not identify. The greens were not at all bitter, but had some substance to it. I went in search of the mystery greens in the produce section to identify them but alas, there were simply too many varieties that were similar in appearance and without knowing what each tastes like, I was out of luck. Again, I happily accessorized in a variety of ways to my heart’s content. Next time, I go for the noodles.

Meat Eater: It’s taken us a while to get here, so we appreciate all the prodding by readers. This is certainly one of the best Thai and Laotian experiences in the Nashville area. We paid $30 tax and tip for a ton of food on one visit and $22 for a more reasonable lunch.

King Market, Laos Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon


Sunny @ the Library said...

Interesting timing. Hope they are okay. It's pretty bad out there.

Eric and Katie said...

They're up on a hill, so hopefully everything is okay there. If anyone has news please let us know. It's been a horrible weekend. Hundreds of businesses and many restaurants will be dealing with damage and clean-up. And thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.

Anonymous said...

If ever have a chance to have lab made the traditional’ll find that a lot of Lao preparations call for duck blood.

Lannae said...

Veggie Katie, the mom will cook anything to order. If you wanted veggies from the produce section cooked, pick it up an bring it to the table and they will cook it for you. I have picked up a couple ingredients and handed it off to the kitchen to make something of it.

For the meat eater, I suggest the fresh noodle soup, with noodles they make in house. They are rice noodles but are a lot like udon. Also, I have picked up a pack of fresh noodles in the front, and asked them to make a special spicy soup for me. Next time you ask for hot, ask for Lao hot, it is hotter than Thai hot. The papaya salad with Lao hot will give you a chili pepper high.

Also, around the corner on Richard Rd (see my blog an oldie but good strip mall of ethnic foods got wiped out. Mekong Market, Your Choice Restaurant and Crown King flooded to the ceiling. I am heart broken. Your Choice Restaurant would cook to order anything you wanted too.

Eric and Katie said...

That is so sad Lannae. If those businesses are able to reopen, let us know and we can try and send people their way to help them get back on their feet.

Lannae said...

Thanks E and K. I will keep you posted on the status of the Antioch Strip Mall, and how we may be able to help them get back on their feet.

Virginia bed and breakfast said...

We have been going to King for a while now. Its Lao/Thai, the owners are from Luang Prabang. Arguably is the most flavorful/creative and authentic Lao/Thai food in Nashville. We just got back from a 3 week trip to Laos so were well prepared from our King visits! Flexible and accommodating to all requests Madame Nina the owner’s daughter is the master of ceremonies and even though this is a little cafe you will be treated like an old friend. Ask for Paul's spicy noodles if you dare but beware!

A said...

If you're a veggie lover, you need to try the stir fried egg plant dish. YUMMY!!!!

Anonymous said...

Nashville's best south east asian food.

Really good authentic south east asian cuisine. The Pho is the best in Nashville, and the Larp Mo the bast pork salad I have tasked outside of south east asia.
The staff is great, and great you my name when you return the second time. I try to go there as often as I can, but cant get there enough.