Tuesday, September 28, 2010

tamales for thai

for this round of thai-o-rama it was off to chiang mai-two at 52 washington ave.  while we were pretty sad to see loco pollo close down, it was fun to see what the new proprietors had done with the space.  it really felt very different from its previous incarnation as a tamale shop.  i thought it was tastefully decorated with a merciful lack of south east asian kitsch. 
there was only one other table the tuesday we went in but the young man who was cooking and serving all the food seemed a bit overwhelmed.  in any event he waited on us quickly, was very friendly, and all of our food came out fast.
for appetizers we ordered the crab rangoon and the thai dumplings.  if you have been following these posts, you know that seth loves crab rangoon.  i feel pretty ambivalent toward them -- i enjoy the creaminess of the filling contrasted with the crunchiness of the wrapper, but i never, ever feel like they taste like crab.  these crab rangoon actually tasted like crab and i could even see real pieces of crab in the filling.  served with a clear, sweet plum sauce and yum.  the thai dumplings, filled with minced pork and shrimp and topped with fried shallots, were two bitefuls and again a fabulous version of a standard thai appetizer.
the entrees are ordered by star for how spicy you want them on a one to three star scale. i asked the waiter if one star meant not spicy at all and he answered "i can make it not spicy if you want."  so really it should be a zero to three star scale.  we ordered the spicy duck as 2 stars and the green tofu curry as 1 star. 
the spicy duck was served in a creamy red sauces with lots of bamboo shoots, snow peas, green bell peppers, and basil.  the duck was suppose to be crispy and it was, a little, but it wasn't exactly what we expected.  and it was a bit of a small serving of duck.  but on a whole, it was delicious and spicy!  2 stars definitely gave it a great kick that made my nose run and my lips burn.
the green tofu curry was full of tofu, yellow summer squash, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers and basil.  the curry itself was creamy and flavorful and 1 star was a great level of spiciness for this dish. 
somewhere in the midst of this burning goodness i had an epiphany.  this is what is missing from so much thai food. thai restaurateurs have watered down their cuisine so much to make it palatable to americans that it has lost most of its flavor. thai food is suppose to be spicy. its from a country that is hot and the spice is there to make you sweat and cool you down.  unfortunately, the next morning seth paid for our spicy dinner, if you know what i mean.
the waiter, it ends up, is the owner and he was really excited to talk to us about the restaurant, local thai food, and even this blogging project.  he gave us some coupons for 25% of an entire meal (but which are only good for less than a month) and tried to give me like 10 take out menus, i think to hand out to friends.  i'm not gonna give you a menu but i do recommend that you check out chiang mai-two.  i have accepted, after 10 or 11 thai restaurant reviews, that there is really very little variation in the vast majority of menus.  so instead of judging on originality, i judge on quality.  i thought this place was great when it came to taste and quality.  in all honesty i think its gonna be our new go-to thai restaurant.


Kate. said...

having only 3 stars makes the spice levels very different, huh! i ordered 2 stars on everything and was definitely sweating. but in a good way.

Dawn said...

Whew! I could barely handle level 2. But, I agree -- Thai food should be spicy. Nice write-up.