The Siren-like lure of excellent Thai food beckoned me in on the way home from work yesterday. I had just finalized a date for my total knee replacement (LT-TKR to all you medheads out there), and was feeling not only peckish, but dumpish as well. Good food might be just the thing to elevate my mood a notch or two. I realized that I had never ordered the Guay Teaw Nuea Combo (S-NS4), a soup of rich beef stock, succulent stewed beef slices, beef meatballs, and slices of tender beef, accompanied by vermicelli rice noodles and sprouts, and adorned with scallion, cilantro, and ground white pepper. I added a healthy dose of ground bird pepper and a dab of fish sauce. It's a Chinese-influenced dish that was brought to Thailand by the traders and emigrants from the north, and similar to the Vietnamese version. As always, the Thai version manages to be unique. It's a great bowl of soup noodles.
To accompany, I thought that Tom Spencer's favorite stir fry (and a fave of mine as well) might fit the bill, Pud Khing Gai (S-P36). It deliciously combines julienned ginger, onion, scallion, shredded cloud ear mushrooms, and straw mushrooms in a sauce of fermented bean sauce, a little fish sauce and soy, and a tiny dab of palm sugar. A perfect foil for the slices of tender chicken breast meat. It's not spicy at all, so I sprinkled on a bit of ground bird pepper. Delish.
Right after the first dish arrived my buddy Art dropped in for a bite, and we decided to have an impromptu meeting about the book we are writing for Globe Press, How to Open and Run a Restaurant. Not only do we have a ton of experience in opening restaurants, but we also do restaurant consulting, so it's a natural branding progression. We also met about the book we are getting ready to pitch through our agent: Fire Starters: 100 Original Appetizers from the Grill. Art started with an order of Satay Moo (S-A7), a particularly great version of the Malay-influenced Southern Thai dish of spice and coconut milk-marinated pork skewers served with a curried peanut sauce, ajat (pickled cucumber and shallot), and toast points.
He then countered with a steaming bowl of Kao Soi Gai (S-P15), that fantastic red curry and egg noodle soup of Northern Thailand, that has pickled mustard greens, tender chicken meat, fried shallots, red curry paste, roasted chile paste, mung bean sprouts, red onion, and lime, in a thick broth of stock and coconut milk, topped with a nest of crunchy fried egg noodles. It's a dish that's on the bucket list of anyone that travels to the mountainous north, and Sap's version rivals the best you can find in Chiang Mai.
Once again, a fantastic meal. It almost made me forget the pain in my knee. I hope that one day before mid May I'll wake up and find that aliens or the knee fairies have added enough new cartilage to my left knee while I slept to make surgery unnecessary, but I'm pretty sure that's not gonna a happen. In the meantime, there's always Thai food. Really good Thai food.
Mick Vann ©