100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 68, Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi

hurrycurry.jpg
Photo by Rachelle F.
Nit Noi's green "hurry curry" is a masterful combination of spices, fruits and veggies.
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.

Our office recently moved to Midtown, meaning those of us accustomed to hitting up the Exxon cafeteria next door for a quick bite we can eat at our desks have had to make some changes. Finding new places to eat in Midtown (or, at least, new to me) has been an interesting adventure.

After I discovered Simply Pho when I reviewed it shortly after we moved, I've found myself there time and time again because I know the service is fast and efficient, and the food is good. I've discovered a nearby Chipotle and Which Wich, but most of the time I'd rather be supporting a local business than fast-food conglomerates. And so it was, a few weeks ago, that I finally listened to my friends' suggestions and drove to Nit Noi Cafe, intent on obtaining quick, stellar Thai food to bring back to my desk.

I got there after the lunch rush, so my to-go order of green "hurry curry" came out, well, in a hurry. It was almost as fast (and much more delicious) as our beloved Exxon cafeteria.

The green curry was everything a silky, soothing green curry should be, but with extra ingredients I've never before had in green curry, and they took it to the next level. In my experience, Thai green curry is made with coconut milk, lemon grass, basil, thai chiles, shrimp paste, ginger, garlic, cilantro, cumin and a few more spices. It usually has a protein and a few different veggies swimming around in the light green sauce, like thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, carrots, peas and red or green peppers.

I suppose everyone does Thai curry a little differently, but I wasn't expecting the hearty chunks of potatoes, the soft roasted tomatoes or the sweet, acidic pineapple slices, all of which added to the curry, rather than making it muddled, as I thought it might be before I tasted it. There was still the usual eggplant, carrots and snow peas, but the addition of these ingredients that I don't think I'd ever purposefully put together (potatoes and pineapple?) made the curry even more multi-dimensional than the dish usually is. Oh, and it really doesn't matter which protein you order. From the tofu to the shrimp to the beef -- it all pairs perfectly with fresh, green Thai herbs and spices.

I finally got the allure of Nit Noi.

Not only was the curry sweet, creamy and hearty, but damn that stuff was spicy! I like my Thai food so spicy that it clears my sinuses, and this curry had just that effect. In fact, a co-worker walked by my desk and noted that just smelling it was clearing her sinuses as well. Don't worry, though; Nit Noi provides plenty of rice to cut the heat a little bit.

If you want to, that is. Which I did not. Ain't nothin' like some super spicy curry to get you out of a Friday afternoon funk and back to work.

The list so far:
No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme
No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia
No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro
No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra
No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen
No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club
No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub
No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood
No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro
No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar
No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum
No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao
No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie
No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's
No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill
No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches
No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire
No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub
No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch
No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria
No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius
No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas
No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi
No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto
No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac
No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's
No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19
No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery
No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood

Location Info

Nit Noi Cafe

2020 Louisiana, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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27 comments
timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

dish 68. A Wendy's Baconator! 

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Looks like great soup; sorry that travesty hardly compares to the correctly made green curry at Asian market.  Should coat the back of the spoon, not be a runny soupy mess.

Flavio
Flavio

The green curry at Kanomwan is one of Houston's best, as is the thom ka gai.

Jeandeflorette
Jeandeflorette

Thanks, I have to try this curry, maybe it will redeem my lowly opinion of Nit Noi. I gotta admit I haven't considered eating at their places for probably 5-10 years, and I think most Houston Thai fans probably moved on to better stuff years ago when the Village location shut down to make room for the monstrosity that now houses Coppa2.

natalia
natalia

....cause nothing says Thai like American broccoli.

Go where the owners of Nit Noi go for Houston's best Thai: Fu Lu Su


JedediahJones
JedediahJones

Maybe you found Nit Noi's only good dish, but in the world of Houston Thai restaurants, Nit Noi is generally thought to be total S*#T

You'd do far better to head to Kanomwan in the East End, Nidda in Montrose, or that Thai place on Westheimer/Bagby. 

John
John

@gossamersixteen Eh, I've had some soupy but good green curries, though then usually with seafood. This Nit Noi ("little bit," in Thai, heh) version clearly lacks kaffir lime leaves and is probably made with a Cisco base or something. Asia Market is excellent, and many SEA immigrants also seem to like the Thai Spice on Mary Bates. It's probably a more Thai dining experience than some joints. 


KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@JedediahJones I've heard from most, including other food writers, that they love Nit Noi. Maybe we've all just had good experiences there.

I have recently been to another great Thai restaurant in town though, and you can read about it next week! Definitely a winner.

Notabene
Notabene

@John I like Thai Spice for the lunch specials, especially the soft shell crab in green curry, Thai Cottage various locations.  Thai Cottage has the best wings, probably not the least bit Thai, but still delicious.  Sweet and sticky with fried basil all over the place.

Genevieve
Genevieve

@John  

It's probably a curry base from Mae Ploy, which is good stuff, if you embellish it some....It's what Thai Spice on Mary Bates (and probably the other locations use). Thai Spice Express on Mary Bates is a good call, it's popular with Asians, cheap and more interesting than the stuff I've tried at Nit Noi

natalia
natalia

@KaitlinS @natalia  

I was just referring to one of the things for which Nit Noi is infamous: using American ingredients instead of indigenous Thai ingredients.  Broccoli is one example.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@KaitlinS I got some shit for liking something from Nit Noi too--a cucumber salad that was legit delish, whether it had broccoli or was "authentic" or made by an Italian or whatever. I still love that little salad, and I'll eat it any time!

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@KaitlinS @JedediahJones  

JJ is right. Nit Noi doesn't have a good rep. You might need to be more careful about who you associate with.

JedediahJones
JedediahJones

@KaitlinS @JedediahJones 

Vieng, V's, Thai Gourmet, Kanomwan and a tiny place caled Fu Lu Su in Missouri City are the places where Thais go to eat.

You'll never get anywhere following other food writers, except maybe Alison Cook, when it comes to good Thai. You'll end up with crappy places like Nit Noi and Khun Kay.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Genevieve @John Yup agreed, I use the same thing at home nice plastic bucket full of curry. You do know your stuff, kudos!

natalia
natalia

@conebaby @natalia @KaitlinS  

let's just say there's really nothing about Nit Noi that merits celebrating in a list like this, considering the other outstanding Thai food in Houston, which is you know, what we're talkin here. but you keep on enjoying that little salad of yours, no harm, no foul.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@natalia @KaitlinS Let's just say that "enjoying authentic Thai food" and "finding something yummy and inexpensive to enjoy at Nit Noi" aren't mutually exclusive experiences. Since that would be, you know, the case here.

natalia
natalia

@conebaby @KaitlinS  

....let's just say your taste in Thai is non-discriminating, or more accurately indiscriminate, which is fine if that's what you're into; it's like getting sushi from your supermarket, nothing wrong with that....

natalia
natalia

@KaitlinS @Bruce_Are @JedediahJones 

Eating Thai food made by Thai people is really no endorsement....that's like saying Chinese food made by Chinese, I mean it could be lemon chicken and Sweet and Sour Beef , and entirely geared toward their notion of what Americans will like.

Now, if you've eaten Thai food made BY Thai people FOR Thai people, that's a little different.  You won't get that overly sweet, one dimensional stuff and goofy ingredients. Hopefully you found a better place than Nit Noi for your review ; ))

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Bruce_Are @KaitlinS @JedediahJones I don't feel bad about writing about Nit Noi, because every curry I've had there has been delicious, and I've been eating Thai food prepared by Thai people my whole life. I'm not saying it's the best in town, but warning me to be careful about my associations is a bit harsh.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@JedediahJones

JJ, this is odd. I believe you're thinking of a different Bruce. But conicidentally, I just planted a kaffir lime tree on Saturday. It's the only kaffir lime tree I've ever owned.

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