Tuesday, September 18


You can try! But you'll have to pry
the fork from my cold dead hands!
Tonight I had dinner with three Thai 99 newbies. It was a great surprise to me to find out that the reason that this group chose to eat at Thai 99 was because it was my number 1 choice in my "favorite restaurant" blog post. I said, "you people make life decisions based on The Beaten Hamster?" and the reply was "more often than you might think"!

As usual - the food was fantastic. I believe that Patty and Jeff have some new fans! I think that I was useful to the new folks because I eat there enough to help "decode" the menu. It can be overwhelming at first - choosing a dish from the wide variety... Do you want rice or noodles? Do you want chicken, pork, tofu? Want to go crazy and spend the extra buck for beef or shrimp? How spicy do you want it? Do you want something that is spicy and a little sweet like the tamarind sauce of Pad Thai? Or perhaps something cool and herbaceous like the Green Curry?

If all you have ever experienced of "curry" is that yellow powder...you might not realize that "curry" is really a general term for sauce/gravy. There are no less than 5 curry dishes at Thai 99. Red, Green, Yellow, Panang....

I remember one day that my sister Denise and I were eating lunch at Thai 99. We overheard a neighboring table trying to decide what to order. I held out as long as I could (at least 30 seconds...) before leaning over and asking if they would like some help with the menu. They welcomed my assistance and soon we were laughing and talking like old friends. With a few questions about what their likes and dislikes were - I was able to help each of them steer toward a dish that I thought they would like. I still see them at T99 from time to time - and we still greet each other like old friends. They say they have tried most everything on the lunch menu now - and are so glad that they had someone to help them out the first time. As it turns out, they were leaning toward Yellow Curry with Chicken and Pepper Steak. And eventually they did order those dishes on one of their visits there. And they shared with me that if they had ordered those dishes on their first visit - they probably wouldn't have come back. NOT that there is anything wrong with either dish!! They just said that there was nothing "uniquely Thai about them" - and what they had the first day was a unique experience.

One of the members of tonight's little supper club asked me, "how do you know about all this stuff"? Simple. I ask. At least I have learned to ask! And I owe a lot of that new boldness to Patty and Jeff at T99...as I continued to visit, they encouraged me to try something new. Actually...Patty started refusing to serve me Pad Thai two visits in a row...but that DID encourage me to try something different (or go hungry...). I find in most every restaurant, but especially restaurants that specialize in unique cultural cuisines, the staff is very willing to take the time to help explain what is on the menu. I know that Uday at Hot and Cold Cafe will often bring out a special little dish to share with new diners, to introduce them to an ingredient or flavor that they have never tried before.

Many years ago, when Uday was a server at Milan restaurant, I took my nephew Jack to experience Indian food for the first time. I think he was about 6 or 7... Uday took the time to explain every dish on the buffet and to encourage Jack to try a little of everything. To this day - Indian food is still one of his favorite cuisines. His #1 favorite is Thai.

Tonight Patty sent a special dessert out for our table to try. Just one more example of a food lover sharing her special knowledge and passion with new people. Get out and try something this week that you never thought you would...life is short! And don't forget dessert!!

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