From the outside it’s just part of a modest strip mall, but step into Mom Can Cook Thai Kitchen in Canyon Country and you’re immediately transported to another world. A more beautiful, Bangkok-themed universe, replete with rich teak, soft music, tantalizing aromas, and a warm welcome from the Roong family.
Named for Betty, the matriarch who still rules the kitchen at age 78, Mom Can Cook’s standout quality, besides delicious, authentic Thai food, is making customers feel right at home.
“We know about 85 percent of our customer’s names and what they want by heart,” said Chris Roong, Betty’s daughter. Chris helps Betty cook while her husband Matt mans the front of the house, though Chris is known to come into the dining room to mingle with guests. “We have a lot of loyal customers, most of whom found out about us through word of mouth.”
Dive into Mom Can Cook’s food and you’ll see what the buzz is about.
Where to start? The steamed or fried Thai dumplings ($7.50 for six) are a fabulous choice. “We have customers that will drive from Los Angeles to eat our dumplings,” Chris said proudly.
I can see why. Within these plump little golden pillows lies succulent, spiced juicy ground chicken and crunchy water chestnuts, with a shower of fried garlic on top and a slightly sweet soy sauce on the side. These are some seriously legit dumplings, on par with those I’ve had in L.A., as well as Shanghai.
Noodles are equally special. The pad kee mow ($8.50 with your choice of meat or tofu; shrimp is $2 extra) is a silky tangle of wide, flat rice noodles tossed in a sauce that is the hallmark of Thai cuisine, balancing sweet, salty, bitter, spicy, and sour, plus crunchy veggies, lots of vibrant basil, and more of that addictive fried garlic on top. It’s an explosion of flavors and textures that can be customized to your heat preference.
“Our spice scale goes from zero to 10,” Chris said. “We have a few people that ask us to make it 15.”
On the mellower side, the Massamun or yellow curry ($8.95 with your choice of meat or tofu; shrimp is $2 extra) is lush, creamy, stocked with potatoes, carrots, onions, and a generous amount of tender white meat chicken. Spoon over a side of rice (your choice of white, brown, or sticky for $1.25 to $2.50), add a bit of sambal oelek or chiles from the condiment trio on the table, and you’ve got a comforting yet exotic treat.
Of course, nothing hits the spot with this food like a Thai iced tea ($2.75 to $3.75), a delightful mixture of black tea and sweetened condensed milk over crushed ice. Especially on a hot summer day.
If you can’t afford a trip to Thailand, a few hours at Mom Can Cook can soothe your soul and delight your taste buds for a few hours at really reasonable prices, including a dozen lunch specials priced at just $7.50 (served with wonton, rice, soup, and salad, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
According to Chris, some of her customers who have been to Thailand return to Mom Can Cook with a flattering revelation.
“They tell me the food is not as good there as it is here,” she said with a big smile. “That’s a great feeling.”
Mom Can Cook Thai Kitchen is located at 18358 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Monday (closed on Tuesdays). No delivery. For more information, visit www.momcancookscv.com or call (661) 251-8103.