Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thai House ... of Horrors

I'm feeling a little rant coming on... Last post I wrote about disappointments and pleasant edible surprises in Chattanooga. This post I'm going to tackle a restaurant we tried in Clarksville, Tenn., our neighbor to the south.

Thai House
The menu looked promising: Panang curry, Papaya salad, Tom Kha soup, vegetarian options and several misspelled words (mudhrooms and vermicilli were among my favorites) :-)

We ordered family style: sizzling rice soup, panang curry and Thai House special noodles-- rice noodles with tofu, chili, tomatoes and fresh mint. At least that's what the menu said.

The soup was not sizzling hot and neither was the rice. In fact I'm not sure they really understood the word sizzling. Our soup had an ample mound of soggy rice lurking at the bottom of a completely tasteless "clear" broth and a hearty serving of tough beef, dried out chicken and fishy-tasting shrimp.

I guess the tip off should have been when the waitress said "Eh? You want that? Do you know what it is? I don't know what that is."

But I was blinded, deluded, by the wonderful soup of the same name prepared by the Smiling Budda restaurant in my hometown, Schaumburg, Ill. There it comes hot... the broth is light but flavorful from the tender chicken, chunky shrimp, peapods, tofu, straw mushrooms, carrots and a fireworks display of crunchy fried rice cakes that send out a sizzle that makes others' heads turn and necks crane.

I guess I could forgive them the soup. Afterall, it's not Thai. It's Chinese. And who knows why they had it on the menu... maybe a relic of a former chef?
But I expected more from the Panang. A quintessential dish- rich with red curry and coconut milk. Mine was watery and barely spicy... and I think they used cow's milk instead of coconut. Thankfully, their bathroom was clean.

Joe's dish was even more of a disaster. They got the noodle and tofu part right, but it had bell peppers and carrots and basil... not fresh mint, tomato and chilis. We thought they brought out the wrong dish.

"What? You ordered tofu. See that's tofu!" protested our waitress.
Joe read the description of Thai House noodles to her.
"I don't know. I didn't cook it. Let me take it back," she said, whisking Joe's plate away.

She returned with the same noodles, carrots, bell peppers and tofu-- but it was arranged on a different plate over a few soggy lettuce leaves and with 3 pieces of tomato tossed in.... you know to fool the stupid white guy. What do they know anyway?

I know a little ... this is me and my best bud Priscilla on a boat in the floating markets near Bangkok.

A restaurant on two boats ... probably had better food than Thai House

A view from a bridge over the floating markets

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