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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012

Jow Nai Fouquet's Fresh, Tasty Thai Food

Green curry ranks as Milwaukee's very best

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Jow Nai Fouquet breaks the mold for local Thai restaurants. You won't find mass-produced curry pastes or ordinary tom yum soup. Owner Aomjai Nueakaew, a native of southern Thailand, opened Jow Nai Fouquet at the end of November. The restaurant, located in the former Abu's, features a completely new interior. Simple décor with pastel tones suits the restaurant, which has a handful of tables and a bar that seats five.

The menu features all of the Thai standards, including fresh spring rolls and volcano chicken. Other items dabble with fusion.

Thai mussels ($8.50) are made two ways, including with tomato sauce. The more standard method is steamed with fresh scallion, cilantro and bits of jalapeno for some heat. The scent of chopped lemongrass permeates these green-lipped mussels with pearly inner shells. This is an excellent preparation.

Lemongrass soup ($4.50) is served with chicken or in a vegetarian version. You can add shrimp for an extra $3. The chicken version comes with tomato, onion, straw mushroom and baby corn, as well as fresh cilantro and chopped lemongrass. This is how a soup like this should be, relying on fresh ingredients instead of a bottled seasoning paste.

The Thai salads are very good here. The spiciest salads tend to come from northeast Thailand and Laos, so these are a little milder than usual. The chicken larb ($6.95) is a good version made with sweet red onions, chopped scallion, cilantro and roasted rice powder. One visit found waterfall beef ($7.95). Though it is no longer listed on the menu, it should still be possible to order it (the restaurant staff is very helpful). Waterfall beef salad is similar to the larb, incorporating cilantro, scallion, onion and lime juice. You will also find the proper quantity of lemongrass, mint and basil.

A specialty entrée is the Jow Nai hot and spicy curry pan ($9.50). Made with chicken, pork or beef, the dish includes green pepper strips, straw mushrooms and basil. The curry paste is soothing, not too spicy.

Be sure to try one of the green curries. Along with meat versions ($9.50) is one of seafood ($13.50). The latter has shrimp and squid with eggplant, straw mushrooms, green pepper, carrot and basil. This curry is truly exceptional. In fact, there is not a better Thai curry in the Milwaukee area. Ask for it "medium hot."

Diners will also find a Thai version of the Friday fish fry, with items like ginger fish, volcano fish, salt and pepper fish and hot and spicy fish.

As you would expect, it is easier to get a table earlier in the week. The bar offers a nice selection. This is a good place to sit back and enjoy. Do not expect lightning-quick speed, as this type of food takes time and care to prepare. The results show it.

Jow Nai Fouquet

1978 N. Farwell Ave.

(414) 270-1010

$-$$

Credit Cards: All Major

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jownai.com