Cuisines of Vietnam and Thailand give diners a choice at House of Asia

Some like it hot, `and then there's Thai spicy'

Restaurant profile

May 10, 2001|By Jody Vilschick | Jody Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Opened in August, House of Asia offers Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.

"Why did we choose the two cuisines? These two use a lot of similar spices, but the taste is completely different," says Paul Pham. "These two tastes really complement each other."

Appetizers include Satay Chicken (barbecued chicken on skewers, served with house peanut sauce), which Pham says is popular with children. "It's a kid-friendly dish - a lot of our customers will order Chicken Satay just for their children," he says.

"We've found that some of our customers have had Thai, but not Vietnamese. Others have had Vietnamese, but not Thai," says Pham, who is married to Nina Song, the owner of the restaurant.

Thai menu offerings include Kai Kra-Tiam (stir-fried chicken with fresh garlic and ground white pepper sauce served on a bed of vegetables), which is very popular, according to Pham. Other Thai dishes include Mussa Mum Southern Thai Curry (beef and potatoes simmered in a southern Thai curry), Kha Prao (choice of chicken, pork, beef, squid or shrimp sauteed with basil leaves and spicy chili) and Pad Khing (chicken or roasted duck stir-fried with ginger and mushroom sauce).

Vietnamese offerings include Suon Rang Musi (spareribs lightly fried and then sauteed with salted butter and hot pepper, served on a bed of lettuce and vegetables), Grilled Lemongrass Beef (flank steak marinated in a blend of complex herbs and lemongrass and then grilled) and Xao Gung Hank (chicken, beef or seafood sauteed in a ginger and scallop sauce).

In addition to a variety of noodle and rice dishes, vegetarians may choose from among Pad Thai Jae (stir-fried noodles with assorted vegetables and bean curd and topped with roasted peanuts), Pad Ma Keur (stir-fried eggplant with basil leaves and chili sauce) and Xao Do Chay (stir-fried tofu, mixed vegetables and rice flour in a light oyster soy sauce).

When staff members take orders, Pham says, they try to get a feel for the diner's experience with Thai food. "If they just got back from living in Thailand, then we know they can handle spicy - we call it `Thai spicy,'" he says. "There's hot - and then there's Thai spicy."

Pham recommends asking for the translation of the names of the dishes, which are listed in either Thai or Vietnamese on the menu. "The name can tell you a lot about how spicy a dish is," he says. "There's a dish called, in Thai, `Tiger Cry.' That's supposed to be so hot it can make even a tiger cry."

House of Asia

Where: 8815 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City; 410-480-5100.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Appetizers: $3.50 to $7.95; entrees: $7.95 to $14.95.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express

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