New Khum Koon Café in Windsor
Khum Koon Thai Café owner Sunee Sopant has opened three Sonoma County Thai eateries since 1994, including Bangkok9 in Sonoma that’s now owned by her brother. Here, at the new location across from Windsor’s Town Green, she generally cooks in a mild style but customers can ask for more heat if they want it spicier.
The look: The small, cozy space that was formerly Chinois Asian Bistro has been transformed and given an authentic Thai vibe with Thepphanom figurines on cabinets and the cashier counter and a mural of a barge on one wall. Service is so friendly it feels like you’re dining in Sopant’s own home.
To eat: The extensive menu is similar to Bangkok9, with lots of familiar, delicious flavors. Care is taken with presentation, too. I love the carrots carved into flowers and the pretty arrangements of colorful veggies that make up garnishes for many of the plates.
I can’t resist spring rolls, and the version here is perfect. The crispy bites stuffed with taro root, clear noodles, and vegetables on a platter arranged with chopped red onion, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, red bell pepper and cashews ($9) are exactly what I was looking for. I wrap each one in romaine leaves ($7 for four), then dunk them in their sweet-sour sauce. Their very good peanut sauce makes the chicken satay shine, ($8.25), too.
Thai soups can be things of beauty, in tapestry broths of salty, sour, sweet, spicy and bitter, and the Tom yum soup is pleasing, stocked with tomato chunks, firm, sliced button mushrooms, white and green onion, lemongrass, galangal, coriander and sliced chicken breast ($7). The salmon style is even better, since the meaty fish chunks add an extra oomph to the light broth ($16.50).
This fun place is also where you can get kow soi, an odd but grows-on-you type of Burmese curry soup of egg noodles, dill pickle, and an egg topped with crispy noodle and scallions ($12).
Our little group shared several main dishes, favoring the chicken green curry simmered with sweet coconut milk and cilantro-makrut-lime leaf-basil sauce, tumbled with bamboo shoot, peas, julienne red and green bell pepper, and Thai basil, all for mixing white rice. Pineapple red curry with prawns leans to the sweet side ($15), while chicken pumpkin yellow curry feels like autumn has arrived, in all its comforting goodness ($13).
A little splash of chili oil served at-table made the “spicy noodles” really spicy, and we finished every last morsel of the flat rice flat noodles tossed with juicy tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, Thai basil, and our choice of crispy tofu ($11).
To note: Take-out is popular here, and the kitchen does a great job wrapping things up. Soups are packaged in sturdy, reusable plastic cartons.
Dessert: All the classics, including ice cream ($3.25), fried banana with honey ($5), fried banana with ice cream ($7) and seasonal mango with sticky rice ($8).
To drink: Local wines, and Thai iced coffee with condensed milk served in a clever ball jar ($4).
Details: 186 Windsor River Road, Windsor, 707-892-2997, khumkoonthaicafe.com.