Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thai House

It's a longish walk from my apartment to the Thai House, an unlicensed Thai restaurant I enjoy. Even though delivery is free, I've never really considered doing that. For me, the food itself is overshadowed by its location:

That may not look like much. It actually might look like an anonymous apartment building that could be seen anywhere, which is part of the charm. Locating the restaurant has something of the feel of going to a speakeasy, you have no idea where it is until you step inside. But you won't find the hidden location from me! Not that the Shanghai Restaurant Licensing Bureau regularly reads my blogs, but the place doesn't advertise, it's purely a word of mouth affair.

The layout is like an apartment, with the dining area being divided into three different rooms. But these rooms are actually pretty large, with maybe six tables per room, and also a small bar counter by the entrance.

When I've been, most of the patrons are Japanese, sometimes it's Chinese people. However the language skills of the staff are all lacking, the Thai waitresses only speak very basic English and even worse Chinese. Every single time I've been there I've had a language communication problem. I went with a Chinese person once, and she ended up ordering herself two seperate lunches!

I generously ended up helping her polish off her food. The size of the dishes are too small, and many of the lunch specials feel more like a snack than a meal. I also feel the quality of many of the dishes is adequate, but nothing special - including trademark dishes like the curries and the papaya salad. By far the best dish I've had there has been this steamed whitefish I ordered:

Sort of interesting, it was just the very slightest bit undercooked when I ordered it, under-cooking a whitefish is just a tragedy. However I noticed it uses a dry flame candle underneath the pan. The pan brings the broth of the dish to a low boil, both keeping the dish warm, and fully cooking the meat. The broth was strong-tasting, almost like a soup, with lemon grass, peppers, limes, basil, and the usual suspects of Thai cooking.

The soups are clearly outstanding, the complex balance of flavorings is pretty much exactly what I think food should taste like. They also serve a tea which has a taste I would describe as vaguely chocolate-ish. It always surprises me with how much I like it before a meal, and how little I like it afterwards.

This particular meal of fish, tea, shrimp chips, soup, and a haupia-like dessert, cost me $5, not bad at all! The small bowl of rice cost an extra dollar, what's up with that?

So although the dishes are very inconsistent and too small, now that I have a better idea of what to order, this is my favorite foreign restaurant in Shanghai.

Update 6/20/2009 - I hate to say this about a place I've loved for quite a while now, but the prices have steadily risen while the quality has steadily declined. This is still a quite nice restaurant, and I still go, but it's no longer a great one.

1 comment:

咖菲猫 said...

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i have read ur blog, and it is definitely very interesting
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