When Mike Tran’s Night Market Curry and Grill closed its doors in April, the reason was originally attributed to a revamp. Since then, Tran fans have been anxiously awaiting the makeover that ended up becoming Night Market Thai that opened last Tuesday. Tran, to the uninitiated, is best known for Tiger Den, as well as three separate dining establishments in his mini strip center empire on Clarewood Drive, including Night Market, as well as Mein and Ohn Korean Eatery. They even share some of the same staff—our waiter for dinner at Night Market had just finished an earlier shift at Mein.
The new menu is focused on Tran's spin on Thai favorites with a selection including pad Thai, curries and fried rice mains to accompany an array of appetizers and Thai-inspired salads. When we visited this weekend, the papaya salad seemed to be a hit at more than a few tables, as was the curried crab fried rice. Wanting to sample from a few portions of the menu, we tasted the crispy chicken wings, the house-made jerky, a pork belly curry and finished with mango sorbet. Night Market also offers a selection of beers (we went for the Tsingtao) and wines by the glass along with a few, including rosé, by the bottle.
The homemade jerky was served in squares about the size of a small hand's palm with a pepper relish on top and five or six squares in the order. These were so flavorful and easy to eat that we kept them on the table throughout the whole meal. You can order the chicken wings in varying degrees of heat. Since not everyone in our group could take the heat, we went light on that, and although the wings were cooked perfectly, we were left feeling that the hotter this dish is, the better it is. We were torn between choosing a curry and the steamed red snapper we'd seen on Night Market's Instagram, so we asked our waiter for his recommendation. He suggested the pork belly curry, which was served with big chunks of potatoes and lots of spices in a bowl big enough to allow for sharing.
While the restaurant is still in its soft opening phase and working on refining the menu (it's not available online yet), Night Market Thai has a lot going for it right out of the gate. We'll be back for more curries, for sure, and other dishes plated with more of an eye and served with more panache than your average Thai joint.