What to order at a Thai restaurant?
Can you guys gime tips on what to order at a Thai restaurant (like the ones in the tenderloin: Osha, thai house exprss, king of thai, etc.?
I live close to the area, so there are very many thai joints cloeby.
I however, always order the same stuff to be safe(getting tired of my choices) and want to try somethingnew (and good).
I have tried the fried chicken (not really good), roast duck fried rice, and crying tiger(sliced steak)
I am more into meat/rice dishes, also into japanese curry (there are too many thai curries, which are good?), but if there is a fantastic noodle o r other dish, im game.
I tend to like whatever dishes they serve with a tamarind based curry. I asked for a tamarind curry at a place I went to yesterday and they said there was tamarind in their massaman curry. I don't know if that is always so.
I had duck cho chi recently and it was really good.
The Thai restaurants I have worked for as a server were all so different depending on where the owner/s were from and how "Americanized" or not they wanted their menu to be...staples like pad thai seem to always be featured, but I find it to be the most uninteresting dish for my taste and the most boring because of it's ubiquitous nature.
If you feel your server is knowledgeable certainly ask them what the specialties are and try at least one unless you have some allergy or particular aversion to an ingredient (I hate peanut sauce!) Curries are certainly something to experiment with and although Panang, Gaeng Kari, Seafood Curry are common you will usually find many other variations worth trying.
I have found that Thai restaurants in the Bay area have more extensive seafood dishes and of better quality (obviously) than Thai restaurants further inland and in the Southwest. There was a great Thai restaurant in Daly City but the name escapes me as it has been years since I was there...
Anyway, go for variety...order a soup, some larb or beef salad, a curry, a fish or roasted dish of duck or chicken, and some noodles (you might need a few friends here) and you will learn what you like. Also, a common appetizer which can be spectacular is shumai (generally a Chinese app in dim sum restaurants) and sometimes served in Thai restaurants though I don't know how authentically Thai it is. I have fallen in love with some of these dumplings redux in Thai restaurants and I loved them served with extra chili paste.
The best part about working at Thai restaurants were the staff meals at the end of the night where the chefs cooked all the things that they personally liked, but that weren't necessarily on the menu. There were many, many, MANY dishes spread out on tables which were always shared by a large group (hence my agony when I subsequently went to a good Thai restaurant with only one person!) The spicy-ness of some of the dishes was intense at times, but I acclimated eventually and the belly, after a long night of serving food, was always full! Enjoy the journey!
I have no idea whether it is authentic, but the dish that wows my friends that haven't had it is mee krob, usually listed as an appetizer. Crispy fried rice noodles in a sweetish sauce with a bit of spice, with some chicken and shrimp usually mixed in. Served with bean sprouts, grated carrot, and shredded cabbage as garnishes. When done right, it is amazingly addictive.
Dishes I love at Thai restaurants in L.A. / Orange County:
> Common Vegetable Soup (typically Asian cabbages, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, baby corn, sprouts etc., in a lemon grass-galanga broth with red pepper flakes & cilantro)
> Shrimp & Vegetable Soup in Coconut-Lemon Grass broth
> Larb Salad... ground beef "ceviche" with onions, cilantro, peanuts, tomatoes & hard boiled eggs.
> Prikh King... inexpensive beef steaks & green beans sauteed with a type of curry paste, mint, Thai basil & Thai chiles (not a stew like other Thai curries)
> Eggplant with Fried Tofu, Thai Chiles, Onions & Thai Basil
> All the curries including Panang & Green Coconut Curry
There are certainly others... but its imposible to not fall in love with the cuisine after having those well prepared.
What you should order at a Thai restaurant is whatever that particular restaurant specializes in. You need to open up your chowhound senses and use every clue available to figure out what that might be. Start by asking where the cooks are from in Thailand and order those regional specialties. Pad thai is the most popular dish but is rarely done well, so you're probably wasting calories and the opportunity to eat something much better.
my favorite thing to order is a braised pork dish with greens and a hard boiled egg, served over jasmine rice. The pork has a salty/sweet quality, is exceedingly tender, and the egg is stained brown from the braising liquid, which incidentally is redolent of star anise and coriander...
at my local place its just called pork leg over rice. but its worth a try if you see it at your local.
i think the most popular dishes are pad thai (noodles with some chicken and egg and shrimp tossed in a sweetish sauce) and green curry (coconut milk curry with a bit of spice).
I also really like panang curry (also cocunut milk - but with a peanut flavor) and chili/mint shrimp - which is just what it sounds like.