Bloomfield, Ingredients, Neighborhoods, Presentation, Service

Thai Cuisine.

Never been to Thailand. Or Italy. Never been to France or India.

I can’t tell you about authentic. But I know when something’s good.

A friend of mine first took me to Thai Cuisine at Liberty and Pearl before I moved here. I had a winter squash curry. Maybe a little watery, but flavorful. Good. Probably better than just good.

It was also my first time in Bloomfield, which quickly became one of my favorite neighborhoods. The old Italian grocerias where you can meet the person who makes the pasta, the way the freshness of a building’s facade has no relationship whatever to its interior, the Officer Paul J. Sciullo II memorial trophy, the tendrils of an Asian demographic shift.

I made a point to go back. I did. And I will again.

This time there was a soft-shell crab special. That’s an easy sell for me.

I suppose it should weird me out a little that there’s an industry built around snatching crabs out of the water when they’re at the their most vulnerable, shedding their hard shells and slowly growing new ones. But it doesn’t. (… Sorry?)

This one was tasty. Well-battered — not too heavy, good seasoning that adds something to the crab — if a little oily. On the plate, it looked like a giant fried spider climbing a small mound of tasteless shredded iceberg lettuce and toothpicks of carrot that similarly added little.

On my tongue it was almost all crab. As it should be.

Then came the Rad Na. Wide rice noodles in an oyster-garlic sauce with fried tofu, carrots, onions and Napa cabbage.

Thai Cuisine, like a lot of places, has a heat range to choose from, 1 to 10.

“Actually,” my waiter said, “we can go higher than that if you want.”

I asked for an 8 when he couldn’t give be a ballpark idea of what a 10 was. The 8 turned out to be a fairly mild palate-warmer, a little tingle that stayed with me after I walked back into the outside chill.

Next time will be Spinal Tap. Next time, we go at least to 11.

There was too much sauce on the plate that arrived — everything was practically doggie-paddling in it — but it clung to the ingredients well. The noodles themselves were excellent, smaller than I expected, delicately chewy bits of garlic-soaked wonderfulness. The texture inside the tofu added the creaminess I’d hoped for.

This is when I wish I knew more about what was authentically Thai.

I mean, I suppose it’s not not Thai. Not the way that this pizza joint in Oakmont isn’t really Italian even though its name is Tomanetti’s. At least they’re honest about it in the fine print. Check out the end of the second paragraph.

I stopped in here once and bought a hoagie. I had to pee and felt bad I wasn't getting anything. Not a bad little hoagie.

But I digress. I just thought that was funny.


3 thoughts on “Thai Cuisine.

  1. Stephen Gross says:

    Soft-shell crab is great stuff! I suppose you’re closed enough to the Chesapeake Bay to get fresh ones. Here in Minnesota, if you see ’em on the menu you should run away as fast as you can.

    Quick note regarding ethics and soft-shell crabs: A good way to make them is to buy them live, take them home, heat some butter & oil in a pan, cut their face off with scissors, and saute them in the pan. They still crawl around in the pan as they die, fried in oil. I suppose it’s not exactly high on the ethical scale, but they’re tasty 🙂

    • Indeed. My food ethics tend to run more toward sustainability and treatment of animals raised for slaughter and such with a bias toward the local where possible. But I do eat of the meat. Plus: cutting off crab faces. How rad is that?

  2. Pingback: How Lee. | eatsburgh

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