First Bite: Dazzling Thai Is Born
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine opens in Jack London Square
Featuring a dazzling 3,600-square-foot bar, tiki patio, and ornate dining room, Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine is serving inventive and stunningly presented Thai fare in the heart of Jack London Square. The couple behind the new eatery now owns four restaurants (Daughter Thai, their 20-month-old Montclair location, unintentionally foreshadowed Bombay’s arrival; it was named to honor the pair’s hard-working apprentice and partner whose mother is an accomplished Thai chef).
Many, if not most, of the dishes on Farmhouse’s menu stem from owner Iing Chatterjee’s (aka CQ Ii) childhood. For instance, Farmhouse’s panang neua—a massive bone-in short rib braised 48-hours with Thai herbs and fish sauce—was inspired by Chatterjee’s family reunions. During these festive occasions, a whole cow would be cooked for two days underground (luau-style), and the smoky aroma would waft into his bedroom window.
The herbal rice salad, served and tossed at the table like a Burmese ti leaf salad, is deeply satisfying—with an array of garnishes including toasted coconut, shredded green mango, roasted peanuts, cilantro leaves, and minced ginger surrounding a mound of blue jasmine rice (colored by steaming the grains with butterfly pea flowers).
The chicken wings are served whole—crunchy wing tip included—and are first steamed and then double fried for extra crunch; they arrive sticky with oyster and fish sauce and spiked with chili oil and Szechuan peppercorns.
The smiling staff, dressed in aloha-style shirts that echo the colorful chairs, seem to speak Thai as well as English; they are also attentive with water pitchers and explain dishes as they arrive.
The dog-friendly outdoor patio boasts bamboo furniture and a fountain. The bar is retro-classy with an oyster bar, draft and Thai beers, and craft cocktails. Prices are steeper than your average Thai restaurant, but the high-quality, generous portions and the restaurant’s water-edge location make it a great value.
336 Water St., Oakland, (510) 419-541, farmhouseoak.com. Lunch and dinner daily.