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Thai ’99

Wowee. I’m finding that I’m getting behind in these reviews! Already, husband and I have been out to eat more times than I can blog. Sigh. A good complaint to have, right? I guess the stress of unpacking warrants a lot of trips out. I mean, you can only unpack and wash so much stemware.

Last week for date night I felt like Thai food. Our old home in Pittsburgh held lots of charms in the way of nearby restaurants, but good, authentic Thai wasn’t one of them. Had read in “The Hook” that Thai ’99 was “beyond pad thai”, and as Bourdain says, you always find the best, most authentic ethnic food in strip malls, so…….

I had the biggest hankering for some Thai green curry – I had tried at home to recreate this luscious dish of heat and coconut a few times, with some success according to husband, but had never achieved the perfect combination of sweetness and spicy goodness that I had gotten from the green Thai curry at Thai Diner in Richmond. So it was with great anticipation that I ordered…

I should say prior to ordering, the helpful server had attempted to seat us near a huge waterfally-fountain type thing at the rear of the restaurant. It was spectacular, and probably something I’d be really enthralled by if I was 10 (throwing in a coin) – I can remember staring and staring at the fish in the tanks at the old Gim Din in Richmond as a child, and I still LOVE the illusion lantern in Nick’s Roman Terrace on West Broad – droplets of oil dripping down and around a Venus statue so it looks like water. But it was yucky oil. I checked.

Anyway, now in my 40’s, big waterfally fountain things just make me want to pee, so we requested a small table in the corner, some ways away.

We ordered some Thai bottled beer (Singha), which went down great, and some spring rolls. Husband got the Basil Duck, me the Green Curry with pork. Helpful server reminded us that these were “soft” rolls. Yes, those are the ones we want, no fried stuff. We both asked for heat level “medium” which helpful server told us was “American hot”.

The rolls arrived, cut in half and arranged on the plate. This made for a nice presentation, but also made it hard to eat. My shrimp kept falling out. Unfortunately, I found them to be rather plain. One shrimp, some limp lettuce, a few carrots. The roll wrapping was fine, but I have definitely had better elsewhere.

The peanut dipping sauce, however, was amazing! Very peanutty, lots of nuts sprinkled on top, with a real kick of heat. Good consistency, so you could take a spoonful and dollop it on top of your half-roll before eating it. Very good sauce.

Entrees arrive. Husband’s basil duck was delicious. The sauce was flavorful, the boneless duck pieces mixed with the vegetables perfect. Back in Pittsburgh, he would often order a spicy basil duck from our local “All-Asian Varieties Here” noodle shop, Spice Island Tea House and while good, their sauce was thin, and the duck difficult to eat because it was left on the bone. Yeah, I know, on the bone is better for flavor, but…….Thai ’99’s was much better – richer sauce, big pieces of fatty, tender duck meat with crispy skin. Yum.

My green curry suffered somewhat though. While the taste was pretty good (nice heat, good flavors, lots of veggies) the texture and consistency was weird. It was grainy of all things. Just can’t think of another way to describe it. The sauce had the oil and sheen of a good curry on top, but it was like something wasn’t mixed. Parts of it were too thick, parts too thin, and there was this weird grainy, sandy effect throughout. Did the coconut milk curdle? Can that happen? Hmmm….. It was good though – good enough to almost finish (sheepish grin). And the heat level was perfect. American hot.

We’ll eat there again, I’m curious to try their Pad Thai and other specialty dishes, which were extensive (YES!). Some nice Tom Yum soup maybe. I’m thinking it’d also be a great place for takeout, but alas, no takeout menus! They did have a web address though, so I predict calling husband at work for a pickup on his way home at some point…….

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