Thai Aroma Chow Meet up 9/21/12
We had 14 Chowhounds last night at Thai Aroma, and from the emails so far everyone had a really good time! The Spicy Mango juice was delicious, especially paired with CurlyGirl's Blood Orange vodka! I predict a run on that vodka at the state store today... LOL We were the first ones to arrive in the restaurant and the last ones to leave!
Personally, I ate the ravioli soup, which was a clear broth with little chicken and shrimp dumplings and lots of veggies in it. It was really tasty, the dumplings had a nice texture and the skins were very delicate. I had the Jungle King as an entree, and tried the Massaman curry. I liked the curry better, but the Jungle King was very tasty. We ordered a number of appetizers... coconut shrimp, chicken satay, fish cakes, crispy tofu, summer rolls. Of those the coconut shrimp were my favorite.
Mookleknuck ordered salads to share... the spicy beef salad was really good, so was the green papaya salad - altho the heat in that one was too much for me! yikes! I think I chewed a slice of one of those thai dragon chilis or something. LOL.
At the end of the meal we passed around shots of La Belle Creole chocolate rum that Mr. Juju and I brought back from St. Lucia last week. (oh, and he found out I call him Mr. Juju on Chow... that was FUNNY.) Anyway, I thought it was a good way to finish up a wonderful meal. I hope that we'll be able to do this again sometime soon!
Dinner certainly was fun and it was great to finally put faces with names. I ordered as my entree the Yellow Curry with chicken (the waiter advised it was the least hot of all of the curries) Since I am not one for the more spicier foods, it was just perfect for me. I also ordered the Tom Kha soup with chicken (shrimp is also available) which was really good. Nicely sweet, which took the edge off some of the spicy entrees and chips that we had before the soup was served. I was one of the few at the table that did not sample the Green Papaya Salad, so did not experience the intense heat of the Bird Eye Thai peppers. They are classified 6/10 on the Scoville Chili Pepper index. Bringing along flavored vodkas to sample with the juices was great fun. The Blood Orange Mango and plain mango vodkas were hits. And the Lime Bite Vodka seemed to work well with the restaurant's Ginger Juice concoction. If we select an Italian BYOB for our next Chow outing, I will bring along Limoncello for us to enjoy as our after-dinner aperitif.
Was that fun or what!?! Both Mr. Cakes and I had a wonderful time, and would certainly be up for another adventure.
It was fun sharing the apps. I really liked my Vietnamese Spring roll, but like ChefPaulo, was disappointed that the dipping sauce was not the peanut-based one I am used to. It was served with a pale green (cilantro? mint?) that did not do much to enhance the flavors in the roll. Those juices were a huge hit. The spicy mango was sweet, yet not cloyingly so, with little bits of jalapeño tickling the tongue now and then -- or, for the few unfortunate ones, catching in the back of the throat! Curly Girl and Mr. Curl get accolades for bringing that mango, passion fruit & blood orange vodka that went so well with the spicy mango concoction. I am going to hunt that down & buy me a bottle. I think that the ginger juice was actually a better match for the food, but I was so taken with that mango vodka that I focused on the mango juice.
I do like spice, but opted for the Butternut Squash Soup. Good thing I did because, like Juju, I chomped on one of those bird chilies and was in severe need of something soothing on my tongue. It was creamy, with smoky background note. Mr. Cakes had the Tom Yum, and liked it very much, although he would have liked it with more of a kick – Mr. Cakes has cast iron mucous membranes, and likes his Thai food HOT. He was very disappointed with his Deep Sea entrée for the same reason. Although it was billed as being spicy, he found it quite tame. My Bangkok Eggplant was good, and quite flavorful, but also lacked the advertised kick. To be honest, I think chefs at a place like Thai Aroma are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to your average American patron – do they make the dish the way they would for themselves and make smoke come out of the diner’s ears, or do they tone it down to the point where it loses its character. And when said patron says they want a dish “hot”, how hot is their hot compared to your hot?
I will go back again and try some of the other dishes. The food is well prepared, attractively served, and fairly priced. The host really helped to make the evening special as well. It’s not easy handling a boisterous group the size of ours, but he made us feel like guests at a party in his home. All in all, a “10”!
So, where are we going next?
I'll certainly chime in here with an endorsement of great food and great company. It was nice to finally meet everyone and have such a simpatico crowd with whom to share an excellent meal.
As for my selections, I really enjoyed the Tom Kha soup (a very generous serving) but, as PattiCakes noted, the sauce accompanying the Vietnamese spring rolls was a bit on the bland side. Peanut would have been preferred. My crispy duck was perfect, evidently nicely browned and crisped in the pan and then finished in the oven to retain moisture. After sharing all the apps and sampling the plethora of exotic spirits, it is understandable why no one had room for dessert.
Again, I had a great time and look forward to seeing all again.
To repeat everyone else, it was a lovely dinner and very nice to meet some of this board's denizens.
Lesson of the night: more authentic spicing only if you ask for it.
As jujuthomas mentioned, we shared appetizers and juice. As mentioned previously (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848151), I did not see other drinks on the menu. I didn't ask if they still offer the green bean (mung bean) or fresh soy milk, so I don't know if they are still available. I did not add any alcohol to either of the juices, but I enjoyed both sans alcohol. Like PattiCakes, I, too, found the ginger drink to be a better pair for the food. It had a cool mint balm to its ginger warmth which was very appealing. I thought the spicy mango juice to be a better post dinner quaff.
All of the appetizers were fine, but I truly enjoyed the spicy beef salad and the som tum (green papaya) which I had ordered and requested spicy. Our server, fortunately for me, remembered me from months ago, and said that he would personally oversee the spicing. The som tum was spicier than the beef salad, but both were well-prepared.
At this point in time, only the salads that I ordered remain in my memory as something that I would order again. The other appetizers were nothing special or nothing I couldn't make at home. Chefpaulo quite graciously offered me some of his crispy duck and, while it was a very decent preparation, it was not a very Thai preparation.
I am still very happy that this is in the area, but will always have to remember to order it with more authentic (not Thai-level) spicing. Very pleasant.