I have been eating at a lot of Thai restaurants in the last few months. I've redeveloped a craving, certainly a phase in my culinary pursuits, but a worthy one nonetheless. But I flutter around to different restaurants to satisfy my cravings. I like the curries over at that one. The summer rolls I prefer at the one across town. And don't forget the pad Thai--only the best noodle dish in the entire universe--which I favor at a particular Thai restaurant in town.
So when the chance to visit a new Thai restaurant came up, I took it. "What were they going to be good at?" I wondered. It would take more than one visit to find out. It usually does.
The first occasion was dinner with the spawn. We all shared fried tofu, squid delight (deep fried), pad Thai with chicken and one "special" dish, the sizzling beef. I also ordered a tom ka gai soup, a coconut broth soup with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galanga, mushrooms and chicken. Judging by the speed in which the tofu and squid disappeared I'd say that the kids liked it. They also finished off the pad Thai, which is something they rarely do. I must admit, the pad Thai didn't blow me away; neither did the sizzling beef. What did impress me was the soup.
So, knowing that the soup was good, I returned the next day for lunch. I brought a friend who was suffering from the first fall sinus icky. My own allergies were kicking into gear and I thought a nice spicy soup could fix what ailed us. She ordered the spicy noodle soup lunch special, and I went with a tom yum goong, a clear and spicy hot soup with shrimp. At either mild, medium or hot, you can raise the temperature of the spice to your liking. I ordered the medium spice not knowing the chef's own heat index, always a safe bet in a new Asian restaurant.
Both soups were divine. Mine had the right amount of spice and I finished the bowl by lifting it to my lips to get the last drop. However good mine was, hers was better. The spicy noodle soup was in a large bowl and had bean sprouts, cilantro, garlic oil and noodles in addition to spices which included cinnamon and star anise. The spiciness was subtle but crept up on us after several spoonfuls.
With itchy scalps and runny noses, we left satisfied. My recommendation: go for the soup.
--Bingo Barnes wears a coat of many noodles in the winter.