When top-notch Thai salads come into question, laab, the tripe-laden traditional favorite, immediately springs to mind. But it's only the tip of the iceberg as far as Thai salads go. On's Thai Kitchen serves a decent-sized selection, and the star of the show, Nam-Khao, aims to knock the beloved laab off its pedestal.
On's is the gold standard of Thai food in the Twin Cities, a shrine to spice. One bite of Nam-Khao is a bit like taking a sweet bong rip. It produces a blissful high that distorts and slows down the thought process -- you might find it difficult to think while becoming one with the mind-numbing spice and redolent sourness.
At first, the salad appears underdone, thanks to the very pink sour pork sausage. No worries -- the pork is fully cooked. It adds a piquancy that ties together the other ingredients and is a perfect foil for the lime vinaigrette. The dressing in turn offsets the spicy rice, making it palatable rather than red hot, even at the highest spice level. And what sets Nam Khao apart from similar salads is the addition of coconut. The fruit's sweet nuttiness adds crunch to the texture and balances out the smokiness of the meat.
Pro tip: Scoop up the salad with the lettuce leaves decorating the side of the plate. Using your fork will make you look like a n00b, plus this technique coats the lettuce with the sauce and adds a bit of green to an otherwise meat-heavy meal.
Coming in under $10, On's Nam-Khao is the perfect salad if you're in your salad days -- or even if you're living high on the hog.
100: The Pickle Dog from the Minnesota State Fair 99: Mademoiselle Miel's Honey Bon-Bons 98: Giant Pretzel at New Bohemia 97: Kopplin's Breve 96: Corn Chowder at Barrio 95: Crescent Moon's House Special Football-Shaped Pizza 94: Buffalo Tots at the Blue Door Pub 93: Duck Burger at the Happy Gnome 92: Mac's Industrial Tuna Melt 91: Toast Bar at Canteen 90: Sonora Grill's Eggplant Fries 89: Brasa's Pineapple Ginger Ale 88: The Freehouse's Cheese Curds with Quince Jam 87: Black Coffee and Waffle Bar's Naughty Waffle 86: Czar Jack at Town Hall Brewery 85: Soft-Shell Crab Fried Rice at Tiny Diner 84: Sanduche de Pollo at Chimborazo 83: Grand Café's Eggs en Cocotte 82: Pollo Tacos at Las Teresitas 81: Chicken Tikka Masala at Himalayan Restaurant 80: Cornmeal Galette with Ham and Sweet Corn from Black Walnut Bakery 79: Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy at the Third Bird 78: The Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich at Lake and Irving 77: The Larry from Taco Cat 76: Lobster and Eggs from Eat Street Social 75: New York Strip with Trumpet Royale Mushrooms from Sparks 74: Icehouse's Sipping Shots 73: The Prairie Dog at Prairie Dogs 72: Dr. IPA at Public Kitchen & Bar 71: Patisserie 46's Éclair 70: Dong Hae's Korean Style Chicken Wings 69: Birchwood's Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie 68: Coup d'Etat's Gnocchi 67: Egg, Cheddar & Bacon Biscuit Sandwich at Colossal Cafe 66: Red Wagon Pizza's Sausage Espagnole 65: Verdant Tea's Chinese Hash 64: The St. Paul Cheese Shop's Chorizo Sandwich 63: House of Curry's Pol Roti 62: Goat Cheese Curds from the Curious Goat 61: Post-Dessert Dessert at Spoon and Stable 60: Table-Side Caesar Salad from the Salt Cellar
Send your story tips to Hot Dish.