gai naam leab
July 9, 2021 3:02 PM   Subscribe

In San Francisco I used to go to a restaurant called Modern Thai that serves an entree they call gai naam leab, which was sautéed ground chicken, chopped Chinese olives, fresh lemons and chilies served on steamed rice. This is a photo of it. I've got a fever for the flavor of gai naam leab but googling it only returns links to Modern Thai. Is there a different name for this dish? Bonus points if you know where I can find it in Portland, Oregon.
posted by bendy to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert, but leab looks like it would sound close to "larb" to me, and I know I've eaten that at southeast Asian restaurants. A quick search for "gai naam larb" turned up "Thai larb gai" dishes made with ground chicken that might be more or less what you're looking for.
posted by col_pogo at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

+1 for larb. I’m not sure what it directly translates to but I’ve always seen it applied to Thai ground meat dishes (though not always chicken). And now I know what I want for dinner.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 3:32 PM on July 9, 2021

Sure, larb. I'm just here to say I had never heard of Chinese olives. Thanks!
posted by kingless at 3:43 PM on July 9, 2021

(Spelling [lâːp] as "larb" was presumably for speakers of non-rhotic English, like the R in "Myanmar".)
posted by away for regrooving at 4:02 PM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is a style of dish I've seen at restaurants that focus on northern Thailand and Laotian cooking. I don't know about Portland, but in Seattle, you might pay a visit to Pestle Rock and try their pork larb, if your diet permits.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:05 PM on July 9, 2021

Looking at Wikipedia's List of Thai dishes, I think the name you've got is pretty literal: gai (ไก่) is chicken, nam liap (หนำเลี้ยบ) is Chinese olive. Larb is a different dish (lap, ลาบ). Both sound tasty!
posted by offog at 4:13 PM on July 9, 2021 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I've had larb thinking it would be this dish and I agree with offog, it's not.
posted by bendy at 4:18 PM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nam sod seems likely.
posted by joeyh at 5:25 PM on July 9, 2021

There are lots of recipes out there for Thai olive fried rice (and they include minced/ground meat). Could it be that, but served over white rice instead of making it all into fried rice?
posted by sillysally at 5:42 PM on July 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Find a good Thai restaurant, ask them if they know the dish, and if they could make it for you. They might enjoy sharing a different dish than the ubiquitous dishes they prepare routinely. Pay extra, and make them your go-to Thai restaurant unless it's terrible.
posted by theora55 at 7:59 PM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: fried rice

Definitely not fried rice.
posted by bendy at 8:26 PM on July 9, 2021

I suspect it's a non-traditional riff on larb using the flavors from the fried rice dish.
posted by Candleman at 8:33 PM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Despite the name, it looks more like gai pad krapow (basil chicken) than larb. Maybe it’s a variant where they sub Chinese olive vegetable for the basil?
posted by A Blue Moon at 6:18 AM on July 10, 2021

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