As part of preparing for Penny’s arrival, we decided to try eating at a Thai restaurant while my dad was here. I had sent Penny’s mom Linda a link to a menu for a local Thai restaurant and asked her to suggest some dishes for us to try. She sent a whole list back, but when we went over to that restaurant, it was closed!! So I remembered seeing a restaurant on Route 1 called Garnjana Thai and told my dad to drive over there. (Click here for a review of the restaurant in the local paper.)
We explained to the proprietor that I was hosting a Thai student soon and that we would like to try some of the Thai dishes that her mom had recommended to us. He gave us quite an explanation of Thai food and of American reactions to Thai food. He made some suggestions and then let us decide based on Linda’s recommendations, which were closely in line with the owner’s.
We started by ordering two different kinds of soup, Tom Kha Gai and Tom Yum, as well as an appetizer of spring rolls. My dad is eating the tom kha gai, a soup with a coconut milk base and a hint of lime. Of the two soups, it was the one I liked the best, although I did not especially care for either one of them. I think just on account of it was too hot for soup maybe. The tom yum is the traditional Thai soup, and is a hot and sour soup with lemon grass, shrimp, mushrooms, and cilantro. I loved the mushrooms and shrimp, but not the broth, which is weird because it seems like all things I would enjoy!
Leah was starting to get antsy. So I asked the owner if he would bring us out some rice for her to eat. Let me just say this: the 50 pound bag of rice we bought earlier that day* is not going to last long. Leah breezed through one bowl of rice in under 2 minutes and through a second one in no time flat. She L-O-V-E loves rice.
See her scraping the bowl? You’d think I hadn’t fed her in a week! The owner came over and we asked for more rice. He said, “Wow! I didn’t think she could handle one bowl!” We admitted that neither did we, but surprise surprise! It was hilarious.
Leah also tried the soup, but I think it was a little too spicy for her, because she started sneezing!
For our main meal, we ordered two different entrees. One was lad na, a traditional rice noodle dish. The noodles can be prepared two different ways: fried or a broad, boiled noodles. The owner said that Americans tend to prefer the noodles fried, so we agreed to eat them that way. We had it made with beef. The second dish was called panang. It is a traditional curry dish with bell peppers and coconut milk. We had it with shrimp. They were both very tasty dishes, but we were practically scrapping over the panang! It was ridiculously good. I will definitely be eating that again!
Afterwards, we were so full, we could scarcely think about eating dessert, but we decided to soldier on. I ordered sticky rice with mango and coconut milk and Dad had homemade coconut ice cream with fried bananas.
I loved the ice cream and the rice both. (I don’t do bananas, so I skipped trying them, although it strikes me that if one is forced to eat a banana, deep frying it is probably the way to go.) It’s hard to describe how delicious everything was. It is definitely a foreign cuisine to how we typically eat in my very meat-and-potatoes American home, although I fancy myself pretty adventurous in trying new foods. The blends of spices and ingredients were amazing. We were very lucky to have the owner spend literally a couple of hours with us, teaching us about Thai food and he said he would remember us for next time and adjust the spices accordingly. (He explained that most Americans find Thai food quite spicy. I asked for our food to be a little bit milder than they might ordinarily make it, and my nose was still running by the end of our meal!) Penny has been hard at work learning to cook with her dad before she comes to the US, and I for one am extremely excited to try the dishes she has been learning. She has even learned a special egg dish for Leah’s enjoyment!
*Penny and I talked about food once on MSN Messenger and she said that she just doesn’t feel full if she doesn’t eat rice at all three meals. I asked what kind of rice she wanted to eat and she said jasmine rice. Our local grocery stores all carry little boxes of jasmine rice, but I knew that in that quantity, I’d need to find a bigger supply than that. Consequently I went down to the Asian market on the far side of town and presto! They carry jasmine rice in 50 pound bags!!! I brought one home and Leah decided it was pretty darned cool that a bag of food was as big as she is!