Sunday, September 04, 2005

For the larb is the life...

Recently, I've been learning a little about Thai food, and have fallen head over heels. The exotic-sounding names of the ingredients are intriguing and sensuous: lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce. Well, okay, truth be told, that last one sounds a bit questionable.

There are only a couple of choices in the area for Thai food, and I'm not sure which one I prefer. I've gotten into the habit of alternating restaurants, each time emerging with some new flavour zinging on my tongue. Today, my father and I met for lunch at Yorktown's Pattaya Thai Cuisine.

You would never guess what lies behind the plain-Jane double doors in a non-descript strip shopping center. The room is curved, spacious, and blue like a deep, tropical ocean. The lighting is dramatic, and colourful art and flowers adorn the walls and alcoves.

Before you can take it all in, a smiling host- or hostess, comes towards you bearing menus, and offering to take you to your seat. We went to my 'usual' two-top, the one that's right behind the glowing fish tank. Service, as always, is quick, efficient, and very friendly. I have NEVER had anyone be unpleasant to me here.

It's hard for me to get away from ordering my usual, but was planning on getting an eggplant dish. When my father mentioned that he was ordering the sweet-and-sour beef- and had never tried larb before- I had to take action.

In short time, our server returned, just as the post-church crowd began to filter in. My Dad's sweet-and-sour beef was nicely presented. Typically, sweet-and-sour is too sweet for my taste, but this was well-balanced, thick pieces of beef straddled by perfectly-cooked vegetables.

And my dish, the three-peppers-hot chicken larb:

The chicken here has an almost fluffy texture, and is well-dressed with lime juice, thinly sliced red onions, and fish sauces. They are a little heavy-handed with the cilantro, which I find truly endearing. This wasn't quite as spicy as normal, but I was willing to overlook it this once. After all, my father had to try a taste, too.

His verdict? After plucking out a small bit of chicken, and chewing for a moment, he offered, "It's very interesting."

There's something to please every palate here.


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