Boda is to Thai food as Metallica was to 80’s heavy metal – louder, more authentic, and entirely more complex. Whereas Metallica’s deliciousness was ingested aurally, Boda’s sensory overload is best enjoyed orally. And even though I don’t believe Boda has a rule against putting food in your ear, I don’t recommend it. It’s just not as good.
There are many sufficiently delicious Asian restaurants in and around Portland, but Boda just might be the best of them all. Opened in 2010 as the second original restaurant by the owners of the Green Elephant, Boda’s chefs, Danai Sriprasert and Nattasak Wongsaichua, were nominated in 2012 for the James Beard Award for best chef(s) in the Northeast.
Authentic, with a variety of flavors for all tastes from sweet and spicy to salty and savory, Boda doesn’t offer your standard Thai restaurant fare. They have an element of uniqueness and variety on their menu that will suit almost any hungry belly. They are also great place to have drinks, of which their menu offers a substantial number of signatures.
My anticipation a week in the making, I was practically salivating on the way to dinner. I had it in my mind that I was going to take some liberties with the ordering since the wife offered to pay. Apps, skewers, drinks, and entrees were on the list for the night. No food would be left behind.
I started the evening with a Mango Mania while the wife had the usual wine. I love mango and this drink with pomegranate, mango vodka, amaretto, and grapefruit was simply magical. Yes, it was a bit girly, but I love girly drinks – especially ones with mango. This one was amazing as always and it packed a fruity punch too.
After sipping on my cocktail a bit, I had to decide on an app. The problem with getting an app at Boda is that there aren’t any bad ones. I figured my best bet was to try something new. I had heard good things about the quail eggs, but I had never experienced them for myself. It was as good a time as any to check them out.
The quail eggs came in a dish that had seven small crater-like spaces for the tiny bird spawn. When they were placed on the table, they appeared to be sunny-side up, but came with instructions from the server that they could be cooked further simply by flipping them over. I proceeded to do so and by the time I had flipped the last one, the first one was a perfect over- medium.
Upon finally trying my first egg, I was impressed. I felt the egg itself tasted quite a bit like a chicken egg. However, the spicy sauce they were cooked with, which I didn’t feel was spicy at all, made them stand out. The sauce was seemed to be a soy sauce base that was cooked into the egg and gave them a spectacular flavor – slightly salty, slightly sweet. Seven of them were gobbled quickly. I highly recommend them for your next trip there along with the Thai sticky rice ball, house fried peanuts, and crispy squid which I had on previous visits. They are all extraordinary.
Next we each decided on skewers. Boda has a number of skewer options including chicken, pork, beef, veggie, seafood and other original flavors. She went with the shrimp while I decided on the scallops wrapped in bacon. Both orders came with a spicy garlic lime sauce. The skewers were delish and the sauce was as you’d expect from a great restaurant. You could taste every flavor individually coming together to create a masterpiece.
Appetizers done, it was time to bring out the big guns. I ordered a Mai Tai at the recommendation of the waitress and got ready to request my favorite entree. Once my drink arrived, I gave the word to bring a plate of the Kra-Prao Chicken – ground chicken with hot basil, onions, green beans, and red peppers. It comes with a fried egg on top of jasmine rice and a side of spicy fish sauce. The wifeling chose the Kee Mao Noodles which are stir-fried wide rice noodles with a bunch of vegetables and egg. We both ordered the level 3 out of 4 on a scale of spiciness. Level 3 gives you just enough pain to make you remember where you are, but not enough to make you regret it.
The meals were prepared just the way we expected. Boda is as consistent as it gets. You can order the same meal many times over the course of months and nothing about it will change. The Kra-Prao always vexes me though because I never thought that ground chicken could be that great. As it turns out, it can be spectacular. The basil, veggies and sauce it is cooked with turn the chicken into a mound of flavor. The egg on top of the rice is brilliant and turns standard rice into a starch wearing a beret. I like to pour the fish sauce on the rice and place the hat back on it for maximum flavor. Be careful though as the sauce might be too spicy for someone with a sensitive palate and it’s also very salty as you might expect. The Kee Mao Noodles, which my wife loves, soak in the awesome flavor of the sauce they are cooked in and are also out-of-this-world.
Our meal was outstanding from top to bottom as I knew it would be. The drinks were first class. The atmosphere was fun and inviting. I have no idea what the cost was as I didn’t pay but they are generally mid-priced for the Portland area. I highly recommend visiting Boda if you’ve never been there or even if you have. It’s worth every penny and you’ll have a great time. As my French grandmother would ask “Do you want the chicken breast or do you want the chicken Thai?” At Boda you get Thai. And it’s perfect. Every. Single. Time.
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