Aside from a horrific experience with the Widow Maker hot wings at Flamin’ Joe’s in Spokane I have never ordered a meal at a restaurant that I wished was less spicy. It just doesn’t happen.
Most restaurants are afraid to take chances because they are catering to the masses. Some will provide me with the means to spice up my food if I ask (jalapenos, sriracha, chile paste, etc), but then the balance of flavors that I so desperately seek is lost. I want it hot as hell, but I want far more than that.
I think I just want someone to listen to me. Awwww.
Around noon today I placed an order with Asia Market for pick up. Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), Tom Kha Gai (Hot and Sour Soup with Coconut Milk, Galangal and Chicken) and Kee Mao Noodles with Pork (Flat Rice Noodles with Basil, Garlic, Chili Sauce, Onion & Cherry Tomatoes).
Of course, I requested everything in the hottest style … 1,000 Peppers! This is a step above Thai Spicy and I could hear the trepidation on the other end of the line. “Look,” I said, “I want it really spicy.”
Have you ever seen orange-colored Tom Kha Gai? Yep, they listened!
And then some. The flavors were very well balanced, incredibly spicy and spiked with healthy amounts of fish sauce. This is actual Thai food.
If you typically can’t handle more than fresh jalapenos, I think that this Tom Kha Gai would defeat you. But it is ever so fantastic! The creaminess of the coconut milk cuts some of the heat, but the chunks of galangal and lemongrass … along with my favorite – kaffir lime leaves … are what truly bring their flavors to this soup. I ate two bowls of it and had to stop myself from eating a third.
The Kee Mao Noodles were also extremely spicy, but the Thai basil, garlic and cherry tomatoes were highlighted instead of overpowered. I typically don’t order noodle dishes from Asian restaurants so this was a nice change of pace. The wide, flat noodles were delicious!
Lucas and I kept trying to decide which dish was the spiciest, but the Som Tum was the definite winner. I haven’t been this excited about green papaya salad in a long time. I tried it for the first time at a Thai Festival in Dallas years ago. I remember it burning the hell out of my mouth and my subsequent desperate search for a drink to cool my tongue. The lines were excruciatingly long so I settled for shoveling as much rice as I could into my mouth with chopsticks.
Asia Market’s 1,ooo Pepper Som Tum marks the end of my search for one spicy enough to rival my first experience. It is different in some ways – more dried shrimp and peanuts, perhaps a little more fish sauce. But it is authentic, spicy and so goddamn tasty that I have decided this will be a staple lunch for the weekends.
I have been shopping at Asia Market for the past couple of years. It’s a small shop, but they have everything I need to create my own curries. So when I walked up to the counter to pay for my order and some groceries the lady looked a little surprised. This was the first time I’ve ever ordered food there. But she made me smile …
Instead of saying she hoped it wasn’t too spicy, she said she hoped it was spicy enough.