National Remains A Stalwart For Thai Comfort Food

National Remains A Stalwart For Thai Comfort Food
This review was not created by Darren Starr. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Sometimes comfort food is all you want. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

Thai food is something my parents never would have eaten, but it’s become comfort food for me and most of my friends. What is it about Thai that makes us seek it out after a long day? Why is pad see ew so much more fulfilling than the lo mein or spaghetti with meatballs our parents ate? “I couldn’t help but wonder, no matter how far you travel or how much you run from it, can you ever really escape your past?

National (723 Fulton Street) is part of a small family of restaurants that include Song in Park Slope and Joya in Cobble Hill. National opened in Fort Greene all the way back in 2010. On my most recent visit, I learned that the family is expanding to Bushwick.

That bodes well for Bushwick, but I’m in Fort Greene and I’d had a long day. I wanted carbs and I was willing to pay cash only, as the menu advised.

I’d brought a friend (re. my roommate) who had recently returned from a lengthy stay in Thailand. He’s the sort who wants to move to Bensonhurst because it’s still “real” there. I didn’t feel like getting Cartesian, but I did see the utility adding someone with his experience.

"Spicy" wings that were about as fiery as Trey Macdougal.
“Spicy” wings that were about as fiery as Trey Macdougal. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

We started with the spicy wings ($6.95). These are not traditional Thai fare, as far I know, but I’d come for comfort and not authenticity. We were presented with about a half a dozen, all coated in a pleasantly sweet and none-too-hot sauce. The wings were meaty, flavorful, and while satisfying, left me thoroughly unfulfilled. I guess that’s the point of an appetizer. It’s something to pass the time until your main dish.

This portion was Big. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Pad see-ew is basically the Steve of Thai food. Not too complex and utterly satisfying. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

My pad see-ew came out quickly. At $8.95, it was certainly cheaper than new Manolos and it did a much better job of improving my disposition. These broad, flat noodles interspersed with chicken and greens are what I’d come for. It might not have been true to what you’d find in Bangkok, or maybe it was. That doesn’t really matter. I wanted salty, greasy, filling familiar food that stuck to my ribs and this did the trick. I finished my plate and did not leave room for dessert.

Kang Kyo Whan Nuur is basically the Steve of Thai food. Not too complex and utterly satisfying.
The curry was basically Aidan. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

My companion ordered the kang kyo whan nuur, a beef curry dish that sells for $10.50. A green curry coconut curry sauce surrounds beef, bamboo shoots, eggplant, peppers, and carrots. It’s a very rich dish, owing to the beef and coconut. It’s also very sweet. I found it to be the sort of dish that’s great on the first bite and tired by the third. The roommate gushed about how it’s the sort of food you find in northern Thailand, but also described it as thoroughly Americanized. I look forward to when he leaves South Brooklyn for Southern Brooklyn.

I hadn’t come to National seeking an authentic experience. I wanted food that would settle my soul with familiarity. I’m here to report that my soul remains restive, but at least I had a full stomach.

National Thai, 723 Fulton Street (between Fort Greene Place and South Elliot Place.)
Telephone: (718) 522-3510
Hours: 12p – 11pm.
Try: the pad see-ew.
Kids: I didn’t see any, but I’m sure they’re allowed.
CASH ONLY.

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