What’s cooking?

Just a little this and that from the past couple weeks here.

Simple dinner. We broiled some bbq sticks, pre-marinaded  and they come frozen, we get them from our local Asian market. They’re pretty good for quick cook food. Fresh SomTum. Even though our Asian market sells it pre-shredded, we like to buy it whole and shred it ourself, for maximum freshness. I make this from scratch.

We’ve haven’t found any kind of instant sauce or powder seasoning that can match fresh individual ingredients. Pad Thai. We’ve tried a handful of pre-mixed pad thai sauces and mixes and again, there’s no substitute (not even close!) to doing it from scratch. In this dish, we tried a more expensive jar sauce and it was still pretty bland.

By the time I added Tamarind sauce, palm sugar, etc.. to add flavor, we could have made it from scratch đŸ™‚

On a side note, I found a really great instant dessert coffee. Instant coffee isn’t the same as fresh coffee, and coffee isn’t the same as espresso or cappuccino. I get that. I don’t mind instant, though, if it’s tastes good. I’m partial to a cup of ginseng coffee in the morning for a kick, when I don’t want to make the mess of breaking out the coffee machine, or even the french press. Sometimes you just need to grab a cup and go, right? đŸ™‚

In the evening, sometimes I like a sweet coffee to go with dessert. I tried this one and it was really good. It bills it self is Kopiccino, and is neat in a couple ways. One, the coffee tastes good. That’s a must. Second, the powder has a thick fluffy white component to it. When mixed, it creates a foam on top, not as thick as, but reminiscent of frothed milk. Third, and lastly, it has a small packet of chocolate powder that comes stickied on the side of the coffee packet. I found that sprinkling this on top, then letting it hydrate allowed me to stir it gently with a chopstick (or coffee stirrer) and form a pattern, just like those fancy coffee shops!  Pretty neat. This is the coffee I’m talking about.

If you like instant, I highly recommend.

Thai crabs are not like the crabs I grew up eating.

These are crabs set in a quart sized bowl on the end of a som tum food cart. There’s two types of crabs in it. The lighter ones on the left and the darker ones on the right. If I am not mistaken, the darker ones are the salted preserved crabs. Both were part of the som tum menu.

The way it works is you order Som Tum [type], so Som Tum Poo means Som Tum with crab, while Som Tum Kung would be Som Tum with prawns. Som Tum Poo Pla Ra is the crab with fermented fish sauce. Very strong!

Tamnanthai restaurant, Thailand

Top quality Thai food, albeit at top prices. I had dinner at Central Festival Mall tonight. I was wandering around and decided to try an intriguing Thai restaurant that looked like it was going for the higher end.

Since this was not your typical fifty dishes fast, kind of place, many of the dishes were too large for me alone. (fish, for example). After going through the menu front to back a couple times, I ended up picking the first item on the first page. A fried chicken and sticky rice plate with a bowl of som tum (papaya salad).

It was cooked while I waited and when it arrived it was plated simply, yet beautifully. The chicken was excellent. The skin was as crispy as roast pork skin, the way it crackled and crunched. The sticky rice was a lesson to me in how dry sticky rice should be. It’s so easy to drown your sticky rice and cooking it with a rice cooker leads to mushy sticky rice as well. The Thai use a conical shaped bamboo steamer seated in a proper sized pot to cook their sticky rice and the quality difference is amazing. A story to follow up on perhaps.

The only thing I found that I wasn’t thrilled about was the som tum. I personally found it to be flat, unspicy, and far too salty. Missing was the sour bite of lime and the sweetness of tamarind, buried under what tasted like a double portion of fish sauce. Was it ‘dumbed down’ for tourists? Was it the chef’s personal preference? I didn’t ask, so I will never know. Usually a Thai eatery will have a set of four condiments to adjust the basic for tastes of Thai food, but there was none here and I didn’t bother to ask.

This was my only meal today. I skipped breakfast and lunch. It was good overall. The service at the restaurant was excellent. The price, I paid for that plate and an ice tea was 350 baht and that really could have fed an entire family. Actually with street food, you could feed a Thai family twice.

Still, it wasn’t bad. I think, though, that there are other (perhaps less fancy) Thai restaurants, Thai chains, and Thai food carts that I’ll try before returning as a solo diner.

I think this restaurant, for me, would be best enjoyed taking a group or a number of family members here to enjoy the upscale seating and decor and being able to try more dishes at once.

You can find out more about the restaurant and it’s other locations here


Great Thai Food in San Francisco at Lers Ros

Where can you eat alligator and rabbit Thai style in San Francisco? Why at Lers Ros, of course! I had a great dinner again at Lers Ros. This was the second time here. I was first recommended to this restaurant by a friend whose Thai wife raved about the place.

The complete review & links after the jump. Continue reading

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