My Dad and I found something new we can bond over!
Understand, I’ve been some version of vegan/vegetarian for years, and my dad … has not. In fact, when I first “came out of the closet” about being a herbivore, he and my stepmother Nancy (now deceased) were followers of the Atkins diet. Daddy is still a bit suspicious of a completely meatless diet (Amrik and I took him to Bean and the little vegan diner terrified him), so when we have our weekly lunch, Daddy says, “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go … except an all-vegetarian place.”
Additionally, Daddy’s a several-times survivor of cancer and has difficulty swallowing due to radiation treatments. So he has an easier time with soups and physically cannot handle spicy foods anymore.
Whereas I, as far as food is concerned … the bolder the better! I was the kid who loved sweet vidalia onion sandwiches with mayo on white bread. I was the teenager who ate pickled jalapenos straight out of the jar and always used lots of horseradish on her prime rib (that’s right, I didn’t go veg until my 20′s). I was the young woman who always used “wild” not “mild” sauce. And I am now the woman who can eat North Indian food every bit as hot as her Punjabi partner.
So I *thought* I had a real brainstorm when I suggested Thai food for our weekly lunch get-togethers! Thai is vegan friendly, has customizable spice, soups …
To my surprise I found that Nancy had been a real afficiendo of Thai food and my Dad is familiar with almost every Thai place in Charlotte, NC!
So, my Dad and I have been having a GREAT time checking them all out, together!
Today we went to Thai Taste in Dilworth.
The good …
Atmosphere. The place is absolutely adorable. It looks exactly like you want a Thai restaurant to look. It was a cold, windy day today and it really couldn’t have been any more cozy or inviting.
There are CONDIMENT TRAYS on the tables!!! I just love it when I can “adjust” things a little on my own.
The staff is super-friendly and knowledgeable. Our waitress was very sweet and willing to advise my dad on which items from the luncheon menu were the least spicy. She was also knowledgeable about whether the soup contained chicken broth or egg.
Additionally, the staff was helpful in other ways – we carried our two boxes of leftovers to the cashier to pay, and a passing waitress (not ours) asked if we needed a bag … I headed for the ladies’ restroom, another waitress guessed my intention and gave me directions.
Lunch price includes iced tea (two glasses plus a small pitcher left on the table), soup, and spring roll. I couldn’t locate our waitress to query about the spring roll, but pulling it carefully apart it seemed to be mostly cabbage.
My dad was VERY pleased with his entree (he even liked the tofu!) and they did indeed have it spiced mild enough to accommodate him.
Vegetarian lunches are $8.95 – the same price as a lunch with chicken, beef, or pork! I mean, c’mon! We all know vegetarian lunches should be a dollar less!
I had exactly three small squares of tofu in my meal. I’m not a big tofu lover and I certainly don’t worry about getting enough protein, but … a couple more squares would have made the meal feel more substantial.
I ordered Pud Prig Khing … (chili sauce, green beans, mushrooms, bell peppers, and basil leaves). The waitress asked me spice level 1-5; since it was my first time at Thai Taste, I chose 4. She seemed very surprised and impressed. When she brought it to me, I understood why. The stir fry was topped with about 1/4 cup DRY red pepper flakes!
Our waitress must have seen the look on my face and explained to me “you’re supposed to mix it up, and you can scrape some of it off if it’s too hot.”
Two words for this:
Maybe it was my fault and I wasn’t mixing enthusiastically enough. Or maybe there wasn’t enough liquid/sauce in my stir fry. The pepper flakes mostly remained kind of dry, got stuck in the broccoli, and more or less distributed unevenly throughout my food. The result: Some bites were bland (I did taste the sauce before stirring – if there was basil, lime, cilantro, lemongrass, etc. I couldn’t tell!) and some bites were coughingly hot. Or maybe I was just coughing because I was eating dry red pepper flakes!
I mean, seriously. Let’s say I make a chili for my friends. Some like it mild, and some like it hot. So I don’t put any aside for the milder folks and then add spices to the rest of it for the wilder folks. Instead, I add no spices at all and then I top some individual bowls of chili with spoonfuls of chili powder, cumin, red chili pepper powder, and chopped jalapenos and tell my spice-loving friends to “just stir.”
Mmmm hmmm. Most of you are understanding me now.
If you add spices to a dish AFTER it’s been cooked, it should be FRESH spices! Fresh cilantro, basil, parsley, dill … whatever.
You don’t top with dried spices.
You just … don’t.
If I DO go back to Thai Taste … I will probably order a low spice level and then add spice with the condiments at the table. At least those are liquid, and would blend with the food.
The place is adorable with great service. If you like “Americanized,” mild Thai, it’s for you.
If you like your Thai food hot and spicy and complex and layered … it’s probably not for you.