Nava Thai Crispy Duck Kaprow: Anatomy of a Dish

Nava is our most-visited restaurant and while we love it, there is only so much one can say, since we mostly order among the same 6-8 dishes. So for this and our big hotspots, I’m going to start focusing on a particular dish, trying to figure out why I like it so much. Nava has many excellent options, especially the rarely-available mussamun curry special, but my favorite ingredient there is duck and my favorite dish is kaprow! — so here is a post on crispy duck kaprow (menu item 70 last I checked).


Nava Crispy Duck Kaprow

Protein is key here, and Nava’s duck is a delicious mix of meat and fat. I find that texture matters as much or more to me than taste, and the texture of the duck is just right, slightly crispy outside despite bathing in sauce, and just tender inside without overcooking.

Other components of the dish add layers of texture and flavor without overwhelming the main ingredient. Most obvious are the fried holy basil leaves, a critical part of the true Thai taste profile of the dish, which together with the many slivers of hot green pepper and mild red pepper create a Christmasy counterpoint to the otherwise brown plate of food. The green peppers, by the way, are pretty hot but not too hot to eat if you like that kind of thing — I don’t usually eat all of them, but I do like to chomp on some of them for that extra spicy buzz on the tongue.

The menu notes garlic in the dish description, which is the only cited ingredient that makes the kaprow different from item 69, the stir fried crispy duck, though there may be more differences, unclear, and I haven’t ordered the SFCD lately, too much fun to say kaprow when ordering. Not sure of all the other sauce ingredients, but surely tamarind, fish sauce, and plenty of (palm?) sugar.

Nava’s kaprow is the usual wonderful Thai interplay of spicy, sweet, salty, sour; throw in the crispy duck and basil textures and we have a winner. I could eat this nearly every day, but that’s probably not a good idea.  Quack quack waddle waddle.



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