Chok Dee Thai

Special thanks to Chok Dee Thai for extending this food review invitation.

Chok Dee Thai Restaurant (โชคดีร้านอาหารไทย) is one of the earliest Thai restaurants in Penang. The restaurant started in back in 2000 in Island Glades, but moved to its present location at Burmah Road (Jalan Burma) in 2008. It is several doors away from Lecker Ecke and Chocolate Passion.
Chok Dee Thai is currently operated by Yuki and her brother Simon, who bought this business from its former owners several months ago. Yuki, a nurse-turned-entrepreneur, handles the business operation while Simon manages the kitchen. The kitchen staff and food menu remain virtually unchanged because the restaurant has a pool of regular clientele.
The Thai phrase "Chok Dee" (โชคดี) means "good luck" or "good fortune". This is commonly used as a greeting among Muay Thai (มวยไทย) combatants before a bout.
Unlike most Thai restaurants in Penang which focus on southern Thai recipes (e.g. Hat Yai-style), Chok Dee Thai specializes in Bangkok-style cuisine. Bangkok cooking is characterized by a delicate balance among sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors. Most spices are sourced from Thailand and prepared in-house to maintain authenticity.
Our meal started with an appetizer called Miang Khum (เมี่ยงคำ). This is a popular snack in Thailand, where various ingredients are wrapped in wild betel (ชะพลู, chaphlu) leaves and eaten raw. Examples of ingredients used are onions, lime zest, bird's eye chili (cili padi), ginger, roasted peanuts and coconut. Sweet sauce is also provided for additional flavor.
Next is Pandan Chicken (ไก่ห่อใบเตย, Gaw Haw Bai Toey), a finger snack made from marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. The pandan leaves lend their fragrance while the chicken provides the bulk of savory flavor.
The Fish Cake (ทอดมันปลากราย, Tod Man Pla Krai) has a unique composition of minced fish and spices. It is deep-fried to till golden brown for the crunchy and springy appeal.
Moving to something fruitier, the Papaya Salad (ส้มตำ, Som Tam) is made from unripe green papaya. Flavor of this salad dish comes from combination of savory fish sauce, chili pepper, sour lime, palm sugar and salt. Crunchiness of this papaya salad is further enhanced by peanuts, chopped onion and long beans.
The Mango Salad & Crispy Minced Fish Meat (ตำมะม่วง, Tam Mamuang) is a similar salad dish. In this case, unripe mango is used instead. The blending of tangy and savory flavors makes this salad suitable as an appetizer.
Tom yum is an inseparable component in Thai cuisine. This meal is no exception. The Tom Yum Seafood (ต้มยำน้ำข้น, Tom Yam Nam Kon) has a fine mix of spicy and sour flavors, expanding our appetite for subsequent dishes.
The default amount of chili paste (น้ำพริกเผา, Nam Prik Pao) is quite choking if you are unprepared, so request for less spicy version if you have low tolerance to spiciness. Another unique aspect of Chok Dee Thai's tom yum is the use of evaporated milk.

Next on the table is Cha Om Omelette With Thai Sambal (ไข่เจียวชะอม). This is a popular egg dish in Thailand due to abundance of a key ingredient: cha om (ชะอม).
Cha om is the edible leaves of a shrub-like plant which only grows in Thailand and Cambodia. Unfortunately cha om is not grown in Malaysia, therefore this vital ingredient has to be imported from Thailand. The most distinctive feature of cha om is its distinctive aroma, which is very similar to stink bean (สะตอ, petai).
I truly enjoy the Crispy Fried Kang Kong (ยำผักบุ้งทอดกรอบ, Yum Pak Boong Krob Kung) for its addictive crispiness. The light and easy feeling of the fried water spinach makes it a lovable dish to everyone especially children.
Another iconic dish in Thai restaurants is Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน, Kaeng Khiao Wan). Using green chili pepper as base, the curry is made creamy by using evaporated milk and coconut milk. This curry dish is served with chicken, eggplant (brinjal) and lots of spices such as basil leaves. Due to its strong flavor, the curry is best eaten with steamed rice.
The next delicacy at Chok Dee Thai is Braised Tender Pork Trotter (ข้าวขาหมู, Khao Kha Mu). The swine's forelimb is braised till tender and served au jus. Underneath the layer of skin is jelly-like soft tissues, making this dish very delectable indeed.
Moving to seafood, the Lemon Fish (ปลากระพงนึ่งมะนาว, Pla Kapong Neung Manao) is fresh sea bass steamed in Thai-style soup. The soup is slightly sour due to lime, while its pungency is contributed by chopped chili pepper and garlic.
The fish is kept warm by burning flame below. If too much soup has evaporated, ask for more because tangy sensation is what makes the fish more appealing.
Our next dish is Otak Seafood (ห่อหมกทะเล, Hor Mok Talay). Unlike local otak-otak which is cooked in banana leaf, this Thai version is steamed in aluminium instead. The main ingredients are fish paste, shrimp and squid. This dish is served in a vessel made in the shape of a swan for aesthetic appeal.
Towards the end of the main courses, there is also Claypot Prawns With Glass Noodle (กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น, Goong Ob Woon Sen). Large, succulent prawns are cooked with Thai glass noodle called Woon Sen (วุ้นเส้น). Under intense heat, the originally-plain noodle absorbs some prawn essence during cooking.
As for Thai desserts, one of the most well-known ones is Tub Tim Krob (ทับทิมกรอบ), which literally means "red rubies". "Red rubies" refer to red-dyed water chestnuts, one of the key ingredients in this chilled dessert. Jackfruit is also another key component here.
Another recommended dessert at Chok Dee Thai is Mango & Glutinous Rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง, Khao Niao Mamuang). This dessert consists of sticky glutinous rice topped with coconut cream and mung beans. The rice is best consumed when warm, otherwise it becomes hard and dry when left for a while. On the side is sliced mango carved in the shape of a butterfly.
According to Yuki, other popular dishes at Chok Dee Thai are Thai Fried Rice (ข้าวผัด, Khao Phat), Pineapple Fried Rice (ข้าวผัดสับปะรด, Khao Phat Sub Pa Rod) and Pad Thai Noodles (ผัดไทย). For desserts, Yuki recommends her handcrafted ice cream, which has flavors such as green tea and salted caramel. The type of ice cream flavor varies daily and is subjected to availability.
Name: Chok Dee Thai Restaurant (โชคดีร้านอาหารไทย)
Address: 231D, Jalan Burma, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-229-1492
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.42449 N, 100.31950 E
Directions: From Union Primary School, drive along the one-way Burmah Road (Jalan Burma) for approximately 250 meters. Chok Dee Thai is located on the left just before the intersection with Jalan Loh Boon Siew. Parking is available in front of the restaurant itself, or along Jalan Loh Boon Siew. In the evening, it is permissible to park in front of neighboring shops once they have closed for the day.

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