On a chilly, rainy Thursday night, we ventured out to our second ethnic restaurant and second Cindi pick in a row, Thai place, Jow Nai Fouquet.
The place has only been open for a year and none of us had been there before, but we were back in familiar territory, on Farwell, between two of our other stops, Eatery on Farwell and Comet Cafe. Several of us had never even been to a Thai place before, so we were all curious about what Jai Now Fouquet would have to offer.
They do not take reservations and we were lucky to arrive when we did. The room was surprisingly small–a 10 seat bar ringed by 6 or 7 small tables–and painted and lit in pale pastels. Three small tables were pushed together for our group of six adult diners and one baby.
They were projecting a documentary about paintings, or maybe it was PBS, on the large wall behind the bar. The nearly full room created a lively, low-lit intimate atmosphere. We all liked the decor, though Shannon noted:
Although it was small and felt cozy, it was really cold inside! There isn’t a place you can sit where you are not close to the door.
While most of us opted for the two bottled Thai beers, Adam went for a fruit drink. He is clearly working though some things and said:
I started the evening with a Mai Tai, based on the description and the fact that I had never had one before. I don’t know how or why I always end up doing this, but I have ordered the girliest drinks humanly possible during this project. This one literally had an umbrella in it and, of course, was pinkish in color. All of that aside, it was delicious. I think I just need to admit to myself that I love fruity cocktails and move on with my life.
Both beers–Tiger and Chang–were good, neither was distinct or memorable.
We needed some extra time with the menu, there are a lot of interesting offerings. I was trying to decide between three or four things. All of the menu items were reasonably priced. Each dish could be ordered as one, two or three stars. One star is hot, two–go native and three–very hot. Thai food is known for its spice, and determining how many stars we should order added some time to the process.
Before we decided on dinner, we chose three different appetizers. Additionally, I was eyeing a soup, but needed to be convinced. I asked our waitress if why I should order it. “Because it’s awesome,” she said. That is all I needed to hear. Cindi said:
The service was wonderful and I love that the waitress was able to tell Nick why he should order the soup without hesitation.
Before the soup arrived though, the appetizers did. I didn’t particularly like the larb, which was a lot like the Thai chicken lettuce wraps you find at sit down chain places. Cindi disagreed:
I think I’m the only person who really like the Larb. I could eat it that a few days a week for lunch. I loved its light, fresh flavors.
I was most excited for an appetizer that was a special that night, the Volcano Tempura Shrimp. They were excellent, the perfect mix of shrimp, the lightness of tempura and a rich, spicy sauce.
Shannon liked this dish and the final appetizer. She said:
I really liked the Shrimp Tempura and Crab Rangoon appetizers.
Though we didn’t get a picture, the Crab Rangoon was the group’s favorite appetizer. Adam said:
The crab rangoon was the best that I’ve ever tried. They had a perfect blend of cream cheese and crab flavor, where most I’ve had were just kind of deep-fried cream cheese. They also had a small but noticeable kick that added a lot to the overall flavor. I would go back just to grab a carry-out order of these.
The crab rangoon was the best I’ve ever had.
My coconut ginger soup tasted delightfully sweet and milky. My only issue is that I tried to eat a piece of the bamboo and even after minutes of chewing, it was not swallowable. Nevertheless, our waitress was right. It was awesome!
As we were enjoying our appetizers, an eight or ten person group came in and left minutes later when it was clear that there wasn’t room for them. When you are lucky enough to get a table, this is an awesome place, but it is very, very small.
We always have fun sitting around and talking, so it was not a problem for us that things took a while to come out, however, if you are looking to eat a quick meal, Jow Nai Fouquet is not the place. After a while, dinner arrived…
Shannon and Michelle talked about how much they liked peanut-flavored dishes. Shannon ordered one, she said:
I ordered the Jownai Peanut Fan dish for $10.50 with a half-star of spice added. The chicken was a little tough but the veggies and spicy peanut sauce was enjoyable. I would order it again.
My entrée, brown beef, was boring, it was just ground beef mixed in with vegetables, without much flavor beyond a vague heat. I don’t know why I chose it. I could have made this myself, pretty easily.
This is what makes this quest hard… I clearly picked the wrong item. Additionally, everything else I ate was excellent. Despite the fact that my meal was not memorable, I will be at Jai Now Fouquet again.
Adam went with a pork dish. He said:
I ordered a shredded pork and vegetable dish off of the specials menu. I know cinnamon was used as part of the blend of spices cooked with the meat. I liked it a lot, it was like an ethnic comfort dish. There was a healthy amount of pork mixed with vegetables over a bed of rice. I could only eat about half of it before getting full.
Michelle ordered a dish which consisted of “fat noodles.” She said:
I’m really striking out with my food choices lately and ordered the fat noodles. The bad name should have been a warning. It was good but pretty standard stir fry. Not what you should order on a quest.
Cindi went somewhat unconventional and ordered a soup. She said:
Green Sea Curry is a new comfort food. It had a heat that really snuck up on you. I wanted to ordered it “2 stars” but was thankful the waitress warned me that their green curry was the spiciest. I went with it as is.
Cindi’s was very similar to the soup I had for an appetizer, except the fact that it had seafood in it. Michelle said:
My favorite dish was Cindi’s. It tasted good! I’m looking forward to going back so I can order it.
The most lauded dish was TJ’s.
Personally, I’ll go back to Jai Now Fouquet to have this dish! TJ said:
I ordered the Mango and Pineapple Chicken which was very good. There just isn’t too much else on the menu that caught my eye.
Adam enjoyed TJ’s meal as much as his own. Shannon said:
TJ’s dish was my favorite.
After dinner, we decided to order dessert. We waited a long time …
The dessert, mochi ice cream balls, was excellent. A nice mix of both cold and hot flavors. Green tea ice cream is my favorite, but everything here was good.
I couldn’t have come in with lower expectations. I do not like Asian food but you know what … I tried it. Thai dinners with friends are good dinners and it at least opens my mind to trying something new.
Most of us would recommend Jai Now Fouquet. Adam sums it up. He said:
I would recommend this place to anyone looking for good Thai food.
It is true, there are a lot of good things about this rather new place, and it deserves to be patronized–for its atmosphere and its delicious offerings.
Ratings for Jow Nai Fouquet were, as follows:
Jow Nai Fouquet cumulative rating: 6.9
Visit Jow Now Fouquet online at www.jownai.com.
Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Losing nominations for ‘J’ were Juniper 61 (Nick, Michelle and Adam) and Jake’s (Shannon x2 and TJ).
WHERE ARE WE EATING NEXT?
One of these restaurants was selected for our next dinner … Which is it?