Archive for May, 2011

Thomething Thai This Way Cometh

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Thorry about that title. Oneth I start, it’s hard to stop.

We decided to head to a different restaurant when we realized the Hawaiian BBQ we were supposed to visit was a sports bar. One day we may sink to sports-bar levels, but for the moment we’ll try to avoid it.

Thai Thani is right next to my former favorite Sushi house. It exists on the strange corner of Central Florida Parkway and International drive, a convenient hop from Sea World. Despite its touristy location, Thai Thani doesn’t appear to be a franchise at first sight. You step into the front door and are immediately enveloped in Tai decor. Gold-leafed statues taller than you. Extravagant lamps dangling with trinkets and delicate glass sculptures. There’s an area to the right that seats people in the traditional way, on the floor using cushions and a very low table. Not sure my American-chair back could handle such an arrangement…especially in tight pants. Every inch of Thai Thani was lavished with Asian treasures.

We were greeted, eventually, by two young ladies who looked a bit flustured. They eventually ushered us off to our cozy booth in the far corner. There was pleasant candle light and yet more decor. Tantalizing odors drifted in from the near kitchen. Our booth was pleasant and comfortable. Our waiter hurried over with water and took our order with a big smile. He commented on Man Biscuit’s shirt and we chatted about video games and the new Nintendo 3ds for a few minutes. He’s a cool guy.

At my eager prodding, we both ordered the Thai Tea. If you’ve never had it before, order it. Thai tea is wonderfully sweet and thick. It’s like drinking a tea-filled coconut. Rich, red tea deeply herbacious and thickened with coconut milk, it’s the best thing to come out of Thailand since my favorite sandals. We sipped our tea with delight. It was as good as I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a few.

For appetizer, we ordered the Thai Thani Sampler. It was a little more than I wanted to spend at $10, but I thought it would give us a chance to explore more of the flavors in this place. The spring rolls were a delight – perfectly crunchy and filled with traditional flavors. Unfortunately they did not seem very “Thai”, it was as good as a good egg roll in any Chinese restuarant. Still, it was tasty, just not unusual. The chicken satay was chewy, as thinly sliced chicken tends to be, but the flavors were mildly earthy and meshed well with the sweet spicy satay sauce. The crab rangoon was oily, but not unpleasantly so. It crunched nicely, using the same exterior as the eggrolls. The inner rangoon pocket contained real crab and molten hot cream cheese. It was well done, but again seemed more Chinese than Thai.

Since we’d blown our whole wad on the appetizer and specialty drinks, we went fairly modest on the dinner menu. I asked (as is our new tradition) for his favorite thing on the menu, and our waiter replied with about 10 different dishes he thought were good. I settled for #10, the Curry Duck. He asked if I wanted it spicy, I heartily said yes.

The duck arrived. A creamy soup of curry swimming with thick fat chunks of duck and vegetables. I spotted a yellow corner and poked it with a chopstick. Pineapple. I snagged a bite with some duck, pineapple and a shoot of baby corn and shoveled it all into my mouth. It was surprisgly mild, and not in a good way. The pineapple was a delight, super sweet and tangy. The veggies were not over cooked and the duck was sheer fatty excellence. However, the sauce was a disappointment. I hope there was a mistake in the kitchen, and this wasn’t how they thought of the word “Spicy.” The meal was overall¬†delicious, however, so I did not complain – though I missed the passionate¬†electricity¬†of deep curry heat. I may need to return some day for a curry redemption. The rice on the side was a nice base for the curry and there was plenty for leftovers.

We were stuffed, but gathered our courage and in the footsteps of true heroes, we ordered dessert. THe most interesting looking thing on the menu was called “Grandma’s Ice Cream.” A cocnut ice cream with peanuts on top and balls of sweet sticky rice. When it arrived, it exceeded expectations completely. The sticky rice was warm and sweet, complementing the coconut ice cream perfectly. I expected crushed peanuts but recieved halves – and while this was off-putting at first, their perfect soft crunchiness made an excellent topper to such a simple dessert. I’m drooling now as I write just thinking about the the little bits of chewy coconut.

To conclude this Thai repotoire, I suggest giving Thai Thani a try – just be wary of the possible lack of spice. Ask for it hot if you want it hot…just “spicy” will not cut it.

Your Thai-ness

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

First impression of the place, its in a small strip mall. My impression upon entering the place was, “Did someone replace me with Thai royalty?” It turns out that hadn’t happened, as likely a situation as it may have been. Everything here is so fancy and decorated. Many statues, paintings and decorative vases.

Wooohooo! Another restaurant where they just bring you water. For some reason that makes me happy. To drink Applecheeks suggested I get Thai Tea. A beverage made from red tea topped with coconut milk. The idea is, the tea is quite strong, and you mix in the milk for both flavor and to calm down the tea flavor. Quite good in my opinion, subtly sweet with coconut whispering to you, reminding you that it’s there and tasty.

For an appetizer, we went with the thai thani sampler, which came with thai crab rangoon. (standard set up except it had real crab and a few thai spice accents) Chicken satay (skewered chicken) and egg rolls. All served with a side of sweet and sour sauce and satay sauce which had a yellow curry flavor. It was a nummy starter if you’re sharing with a date. They portion it out so there’s two of each item for each person. Woot!

Tiger Tear Beef- I ordered this bad boy assuming it was tiger meat. It turned out to be steak, that is fine too. It was cooked perfectly to a medium rare. Sliced on top of some steamed vegetables. Carrots that were cut into a sun rise, broccoli and white cabbage. Of course it had a side of steamed rice and a sauce that tasted of soy, vinegar, green onions and some other ingredients I couldn’t quite put my taste buds on. Over all, I wasn’t wow’d with this dish. the beef was tasty but when I think thai food, I think spicy and spice-full. This dish was comparatively bland. I wasn’t a fan of it beyond the tender steak.

Grandma’s Ice Cream- Consisted of coconut ice cream, sweet rice and peanuts. I know that this sounds fairly simple. It totally is… However! Whatever brand of ice cream they had was of amazing quality. The sticky rice added this sweet chew that was so beautiful when taken in with that smooth coconut ice cream. It was infused with the flavor of the ice cream. Add a salty crunch to the beginning of that and you have a really tasty dessert. Just large enough for two to split. Not enough to make your tutu split… yeah that was bad… maybe I’ll edit that out.

But probably not.

When I add up the totals: great atmosphere, service, drink and dessert. Then subtract the things I wasn’t impressed with: Tiger Tear Beef and Chicken Satay/sauce. It still comes out on top. If you’re in the mood for Thai and have 10-20 dollars per plate, go for it.

Oh! I almost forgot… You don’t have to wear a suit and… THAI!!!