It’s a little hard to tell what the name of this place really is. Yelp says “Da Nang Krungthep Thai Cuisine”. Their little receipt says “Muang Thai Restaurant”. Chowhound disagrees. I’ll go with the name they have on the yellow sign in front. But one thing I do know is it’s busy, even on a drizzly Berkeley Sunday afternoon, and all for a good reason: its good taste.
The good taste extends beyond the food. As Mudpie put it, the interior is “well spaced”. Tables aren’t too closed together to make us talking uncomfortably for fear that the next table could hear. Nice real (not fake) flowers, mini bamboos on the room divider, wooden stools near the window for lone diners.
The middle-aged host brought us our orders with a genuine smile and a friendly warning: it’s spicy, so add this chili sauce only if you like really spicy food. We sure took his advice. The kao pad namh (fried rice with sausage and kai-lan), despite its innocent look and without the sauce, burns.
It’s good though. It’s the kind of tongue-torching well-toned with sweetness. It’s comforting on a rainy day. But what’s even more comforting for the mouth is the tender touch of Ka Moo a la carte. The stewed pork leg.
I bet the plate of meat came from 3-4 pork legs. The less refined name would be “pig feet,” which usually raises an eyebrow or two, or worse, ignites “ew” and “gross” out of Americans. Fine by me, food is like painting, not everyone sees the value until someone puts a very high price on it. And I want my bank account to enjoy the pig feet too, so let’s keep it unpopular. The meat is stewed until it’s so tender you don’t need to chew. The flavors resemble beef slices in pho, juicy, mild, and palatable. They serve it with white rice here, but I think bread would make a tasty companion too.
Lunch for two and leftover: $19.65 before tip. Take a look at the menu here.
A note to self: the exterior (lack of) decorations might be a facade, and shady neighborhoods can turn out to be the best place to find good food. Although, it’s something my mom, who considers look and cleanliness are a crucial part of the taste, would never agree with.
Da Nang Krungthep Vietnamese-Thai cuisine
905 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA 94706