Sap’s Thai – As Fine as It Ever Was
A couple of weeks ago Art and I had a meeting about a new cookbook we are
pitching to our agent and needed to combine that meeting with nutrification.
Nothing nutrifies as good as Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine does. In our quest to eat
the entire menu (a little at a time, not all at once), we decided to order the
amazing squid, beef gaeng pa, masaman curry with pork, and tom yum gai with
Amazing Squid (S-P28) is a seafood version of the Amazing Green Beans dish, and
has a sauce that’s spicy and salty, with an umami nutty richness from fermented
bean paste. It has a very unique and addictive flavor and matches perfectly
with the just-blanched tender squid and the crunchiness of the green beans. I
love this dish, not matter what protein is paired with it.
Gaeng Pa (S-P26) is a “jungle curry”, a very old traditional dish from Northern
Thailand. Traditionally it is made with no coconut milk, since they don’t grow
up there, and the protein used in the dish was typically wild boar or water
buffalo. Today it is more likely pork, or in this case, beef. The heat level is
up there, from a combination of green Thai chiles, white peppercorns, and some
fresh green peppercorns, and the holy basil in the dish only serves to
accentuate and increase the effect of the spiciness. It is more soup-like than
one would expect, meant to be eaten with rice. Excellent dish.
Masaman curry (S-P13) is another ancient Thai dish, influenced by the Muslims
in the far south of Thailand. Depending
on the source you want to believe, it originated either in 16th
century Ayutthaya, brought in by Persian traders, and morphed into a Thai dish
over time. It’s more likely the dish came in from the south, using Indian
spices picked up by Arab traders on their way to Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s
flavored with coconut milk and peanut, and has a very rich sauce that resembles
red curry (but has much more refined dried spice nuance). I love it with pork, but I’m
Guay teaw tom yum gai (S-NS8) is one that we always get with rice instead, but ordered
here with vermicelli noodles. However you eat it, Sap’s does a magnificent job
with this dish, balancing just the right amount of fish sauce with the lime, all
based on a rich chicken stock, and loading up on the lemongrass and makroot.
Word up, Sap’s is better than Mam’s. Sap manages his Westgate restaurant hands-on,
and knows and appreciates all of his regulars. The food is authentic, consistent, and
excellent, and he doesn’t take any shortcuts. Here’s another unapologetic zinger,
Sap’s is better than Titaya’s, which is closed now anyway. You want first rate
Thai food, you want to go to Sap’s. I’ve eaten Thai food all over Thailand, at
non-farang restaurants, and Sap’s is the real deal.
Mick Vann ©