Khao Hom Billerica, MA


(Peter Sward) #1

Thanks to @greygarious for making me aware of this gem of a Thai place. I visited for lunch today and had some of the most well seasoned Thai food I have had in a long time. The Tom Yum Soup was really well balanced and loaded with protein. The Khao Soi only comes in dinner size and was phenomenal. The seasoning! I can’t wait to go back.

Khao Hom
Address 258 Salem Rd, Billerica, MA 01821
Phone 978-362-8269

Website (GrubHub)


(erica) #2

Taking advantage of the $4.95 chicken pad Thai special on Wednesdays this month, I got two orders. I have never had a better rendition. The noodles were just the right texture and not stuck together. The generous amount of sliced chicken breast is moist and tender. Unsurprisingly, the second container, which was reheated yesterday, suffered texturewise, but was still delish.


#3

after the astute @greygarious spotting of this unassuming Thai joint in an off-the-track Billerica strip mall and then its subsequent mentions at Daily Lunch, MC Slim JB’s Facebook feed and the T.B. followup at Hungry Onion, it seemed like this spot was worth a visit for lunch today. Got the pork larb salad, and it was excellent–specified that I could handle “Thai spicy” and got it. The dish had a good level of heat that didn’t interfere with the flavor, and the accompanying sticky rice was just right. Vegetables were cut well and left with crunch in the finished serving, and I also have to say that for 7.95 the serving size was ample. My gf (who doesn’t like spice) got the pad see ew and was really happy with it, and the one bite I had tasted really delicious.

We were also the only people in the place as it was a late lunch after making an HMart/Market Basket run (Khao Hom is ~15 minutes from there) and got to chatting with the woman who runs the front of house. (Seems like it’s the co-owner guy who does the cooking, she referred to him as her “boyfriend”). She is SUPER NICE and told us that they opened the place a little over a year ago and that it took them about six months of cooking here to get used to how the products in the U.S. were different from what they could get in Thailand. On one visit, I think that level of thoughtfulness is really reflected in the food here. They clearly care about what they serve, and are proprietors who think about what they work with and how they can translate their Thai food heritage into good food working with what they can get their hands on here.

This is a restaurant that is a bit out of the way from Boston, but that I think is really worth a look. The food is interesting and the people who run it are working hard to put out a good product. It’s also really inexpensive! Will definitely go back. I don’t usually eat Pad Thai because I find it too sweet at most generic Thai places and was thrilled when she described their Pad Thai as “not really sweet, even a little sour”. Sold!


(Peter Sward) #4

I didn’t manage to get the Crispy Pork Basil Thai Spicy, but it was super tasty. I really tried to get them to make it Thai Spicy, but it comes out medium. Still tasty but the pork belly was dry on the meat end.


#5

Had a nice lunch with friends yesterday. New things tried: the choo chee talay (ordered hot, came that way) was excellent. The seafood mix of shrimp, squid, and scallops had no surimi or similar in sight; I look forward to getting more talay dishes there in future. Beef salad (ordered medium, came mild) was quite nice but I prefer their larbs. The owner said they’d make duck larb for an (understandable) upcharge so I think that’s next on my to-try list.

For repeats, the crispy pork (belly) basil (ordered hot, could have used a bit more) is indeed crispy when ordered in (as opposed to takeout). It was also very tasty and had no problems with dryness. S&I still makes my favorite version but Khao Hom is much closer to home. That’s pretty much my take on the place: I can get personal-favorite versions of Thai dishes at different places in town, but KH offers one-stop shopping for a bunch of tasty options here in the suburbs. That makes it a real find, so thanks again @greygarious.


#6

As someone that rarely gets to venture out to the suburbs, I would be interested in hearing about those other personal favorites!


(Peter Sward) #7

T.B, this is strange. I was at the table behind you and my pork was definitely dry on the meat side and it was served within minutes of yours.


#8

For Thai food in-town I most often go to S&I, Thai North, Cha Yen, and Rod Dee (in Porter). S&I is probably the one I hit most often as it plays well with frequent dining companions. Favorites there are the pad ka pow moo krob , duck larb, and kai look kaey. The spicy eggplant with ground pork is good too. Sometime I need to try the thousand year eggs.

Thai North might be my favorite area Thai overall; if it were easier for us to get to I’d go a lot more often. Their khao soi is my local standard. They also make a great duck larb and a killer gaeng hang ley. The mieng kum and mango sticky rice are must-order bookends for our meals there. Other Northern specialties have been good bets when we want to branch out.

Cha Yen offers excellent pork and mushroom larbs though we sometimes have trouble getting them spicy enough. I’m also fond of their yaki soba (with duck). Their brisket khao soi is a friend’s favorite; it’s good but I prefer poultry in that dish. The quail egg and corn cake apps are also great there.

Rod Dee in Porter has some tasty stealth options in the mostly-Americanized menu; the specials high up on the wall are worth checking out. The khao soi (with duck) has been excellent and their sai oua packs a good spice punch; we usually get it with an order of chive dumplings as a foil. They’ll make duck larb on request and we like their kao moo dang. The pineapple-basil smoothies are a nice change from our usual Thai iced tea.

In past they’ve sometimes made me nam kao tod, a spicy Laotian sour sausage and roasted rice dish I haven’t found elsewhere in the area. Haven’t tried to order it lately because of dining companion constraints.

Khao Hom doesn’t have all those dishes but I like that I can get several of them in one local place.


Rod Dee [Porter Square, Cambridge, MA]
#9

I need to check this out since now I’m up the road for a bit.

Thanks for the list overall. Really helpful!


#10

Rod Dee had a Thai language menu for many years (and probably still does) on a single sheet of copier paper. With modern tools it might even be easy to translate.


#11

Thanks so much for all the great info! Thai North was pretty much the only place I got delivery from in college - those “blackboard specials” were hard to find elsewhere.


(Peter Sward) #12

This is one of my favorite lunch dishes, Gapao with pork ($7.95) and I finally got a dish Thai Hot, but it was really flavorful.

http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot.com/2018/03/khao-hom-billerica.html


#13

Sadly I have to update that Thai North serves white-meat-only chicken now; apparently too many farang were complaining and wouldn’t eat the dark meat. They did comp us for the resulting cotton-filled khao soi and the staff member I spoke with was sympathetic but said his boss had made an economic decision. I get that the restaurant business is hard and relies on their regulars but it’s still disappointing.

Guess it’ll be duck or pork in my GBA khao soi from now on. At least I know that Khao Hom’s version is good that way.


#14

argh, that is sooo frustrating. totally understand why a proprietor would do it based on market demand, but I so don’t get the preference for white meat. (aside: it’s also a lot harder now to get bone in chicken thighs in supermarkets than it used to be. they’re out there, but seemingly much less common).

on another front, I went to Rod Dee in Porter Sq tonight. Was armed with your suggestions, but they had a special of pork leg with Chinese broccoli and spicy sauce (kao ga moo?), so I went for that. it was pretty good overall: chunks of pork, plenty of cilantro, lots of well cooked greens and the sauce was delicious. some of the pork was perhaps a bit dry and the hard boiled egg that accompanied was a little over to my taste–though well short of the green ring, so points for that. the best part was the moister chunks of fatty pork, and the flavor was right with all of the sauce poured in. For eleven bucks, it was a solid meal. (and a couple more in the tip jar).

I’m sure going back to try the khao soi et al.


Rod Dee [Porter Square, Cambridge, MA]
#15

fwiw, they still do–it’s laminated and in with the takeout menus up front. whether it has stuff on it that is not on the other menu, I’m not sure…


Rod Dee [Porter Square, Cambridge, MA]
#16

Coincidentally, I was there yesterday, too, but for a latish lunch – between about 1:30 and 2:30. What time were you there? I imagine you’d be wearing a “moderator” hat or some such, perhaps with a tasteful onion tassel hanging from it, so that you’d be easy to spot.

  1. Yes, they do have the thai menu, laminated as you say. They are friendly enough people that one could probably ask what’s on it, but somehow I never have.

  2. I used to go there a lot some years ago when several of their dishes were incendiary. But the heat began to dial down as the years went by, and the sweetness began to dial up. So, before yesterday, I had not been there in over three years. I found the dishes sweet again, especially the khao soi. I asked for duck, hoping to get an entire leg that had been stewed in coconut milk, but it was sliced duck that had obviously been added at a late stage into the sauce. The best version of this dish I’ve had recently has been at Uncle Boon’s in NYC, and RD’s version, although pleasant enough, wasn’t nearly as good. Apart from the sweetness, it didn’t have the complexity of flavor, or the heat, of the UB version.

  3. We tried desserts there for the first time. The sticky rice that came with mango was spectacular. The sweet roti with a drizzle of condensed milk was so-so. I’d love to have an unsweetened version of that roti, but I didn’t see it on the main menu.

  4. That pork leg sounds worth a try, as do several other dishes.

HAVE JUST CREATED A ROD DEE THREAD, FOR FURTHER RD DISCUSSION.


Rod Dee [Porter Square, Cambridge, MA]
#17

haha, no I do not have a tassel or even a large onion head mask so that I can be identified. Maybe in the future!

I was there about 5 for an early dinner. And I’d say that the sauce I had with the pork leg was as you say, on the sweet side. I’d have been glad if it had more heat and less sweetness.


(Peter Sward) #18

I had the Duck Curry (12.95) this week. It only comes in dinner size. Extra hot, of course. The curry is based on a red curry and it was excellent. There was also tons of duck that were really tender and tasty. She even gave me extra rice with my leftovers.

http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot.com/2018/04/khao-hom-billerica_11.html


(erica) #19

I had the duck curry a few weeks ago. I didn’t think anything could be better than the talay red curry, but this one proved me wrong!


(Peter Sward) #20

Just wanted to give this place a little bump. I now always get Thai Hot with sliced bird eyes chilis. I tried the fish as my protein and it was always crispy but dry and it was explained to me that for the fish to be crispy, it had to fry that long. Doesn’t make sense to me, crank up the heat and cook it a shorter amount of time. Anyway, after some discussion, I now get the fish not crispy and it’s perfectly cooked. This is the lunch Spicy Green beans with fish. A whopping $8.95 for this.