Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 16th
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Oodles of Noodles and More

din featureKao Sook brings mild to spicy versions of Thai specialties to Scotts Valley

A second Thai restaurant has opened on Scotts Valley's Mt. Hermon Road. Kao Sook recently took the place of Bruno's BBQ's previous home in the Safeway shopping center, and after a nice refurbishment, Thai food is served all day at this little sister of Sabieng.

The decor is simple with a couple of pierced wood carvings serving as room dividers, a herd of elephants carved into a log, and prints of a guardian yak, from murals depicting the epic Ramakien on the walls of the Royal Monastery in Bangkok's Grand Palace.

The nicely priced lunch special ($6.50) includes soup of the day plus a choice of 32 entrees such as curries and stir-fries served with rice, mixed fried rice, sautéed noodle dishes, and soups.

The Lunch Combo ($8.95) furnished plenty of food. First, a cup of light coconut milk soup, scented with lemon grass, was filled with still-crisp, decoratively cut cucumber and carrots with tofu and cabbage. An order of regular iced tea ($1.95) was served with a full carafe of refills.

Although I had forgotten to request extra spiciness, the cup of curry was plenty piquant. Cucumber, slivered bamboo shoots, soft eggplant, white chicken, and a generous amount of aromatic basil were immersed in a hearty green curry and coconut milk broth. The combo also included a choice of barbecue specialties. Moo Yang, lean and tender, marinated, grilled pork loin with delicious seasonings was paired with a cup of sweet and vinegared chili sauce. A white rice mold completed the plate.

At Kao Sook, dinner service begins at three p.m. Knotted lavender napkins set atop waiting plates made a soothing contrast to the rich, dark furniture and wainscoting.
Seasoned with sweet spices, heavy on the sugar with a creamy milk float, the Thai iced tea ($1.95) offered a refreshing beginning on a steamy afternoon.

Pad Kee Mao ($8.50) featured wide rice noodles, soft and glutinous, with sweet sautéed onion, green onion, baby corn cobs and carrot. The heat provided by the garlic chili sauce and its flecks of red peppers lent a pleasant and flavorful heat.

Pad Poi Sian ($8.50), or Silver Noodles, was not as spicy, but quite flavorful and complete. Translucent, crystal bean thread noodles were tossed with baby corn, thinly sliced carrot and chicken breast, black fungus mushrooms, broccoli, red bell peppers, and scrambled egg, spiced up with halved fresh jalapeños. An unusual addition was tofu skin, which forms atop boiling soy milk during the production of tofu. It is skimmed off and dried. Rehydrated and heated, it offered a slightly chewy contrast to the crisp vegetables.
I will have the leftovers of Pad Pik King ($8.50), also with chicken, all to myself, as its Scoville factor surely exceeds the limits of my husband's palate. With crisp green beans and red and green bell peppers, I absorbed the extra chili-flecked, salty brown sauce with silver noodles.

Kao Sook Thai Cuisine, 245 Mt. Hermon Road (Safeway shopping center), Scotts Valley, 439-9520. Open at 11:30 a.m., serving lunch until 3 p.m., and dinner from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.

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