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In Dining

Aom Nueakaew is the owner-chef at the new Jow Nai Fouquet. (PHOTO: Damien Jaques)

In Dining

The new Thai restaurant, which has a fully stocked bar, is in the tiny storefront occupied by Abu's for more than three decades. (PHOTO: Damien Jaques)

In Dining

The cafe's sleekly designed interior includes this custom-made wood bench. (PHOTO: Damien Jaques)

New flavors in an East Side landmark


The funky little storefront with the yellow striped awnings, pushed up against a house, on the corner of Farwell and Lafayette has been an East Side landmark for more than a generation. Abu's Jerusalem of the Gold served its hummus, shawarma and rosewater lemonade in a tiny diner since the 1970s.

Hippies, hipsters, Middle Easterners and the gastronomically curious squeezed into the space or were part of Abu's sizable carryout business. The restaurant was an eye-catching constant on a street that has experienced considerable change over more than three decades.

Wander into the location now, and you will be shocked. Spring rolls and chicken satay have replaced pita and baba ghanouge. The interior has been remade with a sleekly stylish look, and a fully stocked bar has been added.

Welcome to Jow Nai Fouquet, a new Thai restaurant with home cooking but a contemporary vibe. Aom Nueakaew, who comes from a family of restaurateurs in Thailand, is the owner, chef, and may even be your server if you are at the cafe on a slow night. She emigrated from Thailand nearly seven years ago, and after waiting tables and serving as a manager at Sticky Rice in Racine for five years she went looking for a Milwaukee location of her own.

Jow Nai Fouquet had a soft opening in November and is refining its menu before setting a grand opening date. Pyte Khampane, who was born in Laos of Lao-Thai parents and raised in West Allis, is heavily involved as a consultant. A partner in Sticky Rice, he learned the restaurant business at Bangkok Orchid and Thai's Joe's in the old Prospect Mall.

Khampane is contributing the start-up expertise and familiarity with the East Side for the new cafe while Nueakaew provides the recipes and her kitchen savviness.

The owner-chef grew up in southern Thailand, and Jow Nai Fouquet reflects that region's cuisine, which favors seafood and curries. Red and green sea curries ($13.50) contain shrimp, scallops and squid with a variety of different ingredients – eggplant, baby corn, mushrooms, carrot, green beans, bell peppers, bamboo, pineapple and Thai sweet basil. Customers can choose the level of heat they want in the spices.

In addition to the standard Thai dish volcano chicken ($9.50), Jow Nai Fouquet offers volcano fish ($9.95) and volcano shrimp ($12.50). Ginger fish (deep fried tilapia) in a house sauce with Thai herbs is $12.50, and steamed mussels with lime juice, garlic and chilies costs $8.50.

Other curry dishes include a yellow with mild slow-cooked chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions, and a red with slightly spicy chicken or pork, bamboo, bell peppers, onions, carrots, pineapple and sweet Thai basil (both $9.50). A vegetarian variation ($9.95) features tofu and is offered with red, yellow or green curries. Once again, the diner can pick the degree of hotness.

A vegetarian section of the menu includes vegan volcano and a noodles basil pan, both $9.50. They come with tofu or a meat substitute.

Such common Thai items as Thai basil beef ($9.50) and several noodle entrees are also offered.

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Talkbacks

sandstorm | Feb. 2, 2012 at 11:13 a.m. (report)

there ya go!!!

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alba | Feb. 2, 2012 at 10:58 a.m. (report)

EE-Sane is about 4 blocks away. I love it, but their prices have slowly been climbing. I'll give this place a try,

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Aardvark | Feb. 2, 2012 at 10:27 a.m. (report)

Oh look! Another jerky sandstorm post! I'm so impressed with your wealth of knowledge and witty comments.

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MKE Diner | Feb. 1, 2012 at 12:31 p.m. (report)

This place has the best Thai food around! Yes, Brady Street has a number of Thai places, but they all differ and they all seem to be doing well. The Ginger Fish, The Yellow Curry, and their soups are THE BEST! They are also very friendly and the service is great!

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sandstorm | Feb. 1, 2012 at 8:39 a.m. (report)

if somebody has to write "sarcasm" after a sarcastic comment they are not skilled enough at sarcasm to use it.

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