From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Un-Thai Me!!

I have been lucky in the last week to have been able to visit 2 new Asian restaurants. The first was East Island China Bistro and Sushi, off of Pat Booker Road in Universal City. While the entrees that they have on the menu are not designed for highlight reels, their sushi is pretty good. They offer fresh sushi as well, at an affordable price. The atmosphere seems like it would be good for a family, although when we were there, we were the only diners in the place.

Here is a chance for an instant replay in my mind… typical eyes being bigger than my stomach, because sushi always looks good. I ordered the edamame, rainbow roll and their spicy tuna roll. Unfortunately, I like my spicy tuna to be just that… Tuna with a shoe. If the shoe does not give it a kick, it does not meet my expectations. The girls’ meals were about average, with Eleyna ordering the lemon chicken, sauce on the side, and Madi had Egg Drop soup. Again.

The second was a restaurant called Tong’s Thai, a fusion of Chinese and Thai cuisine located on Austin Highway in San Antonio. They serve acceptable versions of Chinese food and have a very tasty offering on the sushi side. Tong’s Thai was the first restaurant here in San Antonio to offer Bubble Tea, the one of a kind drink that has gained a popular following. They have many different flavors to offer, and I am going to have to make a point to visit and try more of them. The staff also greets you with a bowl of miso soup, which is one of my favorite ways to start a meal. For my first meal there, I had the Tong’s Thai bowl and a spicy tuna roll. The Tong’s Thai bowl was a tasty treat, a bowl full of rice vermicelli served with carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, bean sprouts and topped with grilled chicken. The chicken was tasty, but it had a slightly carmelized after taste, suggesting that it may have been just burnt. The spicy tuna roll, however, was excellent. The tuna was spicy enough to not need me to add any additional wasabe or hot sauce. THAT was what I was looking for. This restaurant is definitely one that I could see myself visiting over and over again, as their menu offers many different types of dishes for the Asian soul. I will have to try them, one at a time.

(I have been told by their sushi chef that they offer some specials that are off the menu, including duck dishes. Yum.)

I told my server to surprise me with any flavor of Bubble Tea, and the one I was served was tasty. I was a little surprised to find peanuts in it, but apparently, their “Thai Grr” Bubble Drink has mango, coconut milk, and papaya to accompany it. I may not have them pick my next bubble drink, but I am willing to bet that if I tell them to pick my entrĂ©e, I won’t be disappointed.

Sadly, there are very few Thai restaurants here in San Antonio, and most restaurants that offer Thai food are Chinese restaurants with only one or two dishes or they are a fusion of many different Asian cuisines. Of the ones that are here, I have yet to try most of them. I worry that, like most Chinese restaurants here, the food will be unremarkable. Only the actual dining experience will prove otherwise. Such prejudice is unfortunate, given that there are many Michelin Star rated Thai chefs who can hold their own in the cooking world.

There are so many wonderful elements of the Thai cuisine that can be explored. Many of the recipes that are staples of the cuisine offer benefits including good energy distribution, relatively low amounts of fat and saturated fats, low amounts of cholesterol, and good sources of dietary fibers and iron. However, if cooked poorly, all those benefits would potentially go out the window.

The central part of Thailand is the plain and low land where many rivers pass by, thus the productivities are fertile all through the year both vegetables and fruits. Hence, food in the central part is diverse and the taste is moderate with the combination of salty, spicy, sour and sweet according to the recipes. However, there are also the mixing of the seasonings both odor and taste, for instance, spices and the coconut milk. Moreover, the central part food is usually composed of supplement, for instance chilli paste with sweet pork and sweet, salty paste with margosa. The main characteristic of the food in this region is the refinement of the vegetables and fruits carving that represent the identity of the arts and culture of the Thai food.

The southern part of Thailand is the peninsula, thus, almost of the population earn their living by fishery. Hence, the main food ingredients are the seafood. Spices are also the favorite ingredients which make the taste spicy, salty and sour, for instance, Kaeng tai pla, Kaeng som and Kaeng luang, etc. The southern food is delicious to supplement with vegetables in order to decrease the spicy taste, ‘pak nhoa’, for instance, ma-kheua pro, yard-long beans, wing bean, parkia, etc.

The northern part of Thailand is the ancient land where the tradition and culture are different from other parts. The eating pattern in the north, instead of sitting at the table, the northern people usually put all the dishes in the big bowl called ‘kan tok’ and sit altogether on the floor around the bowl. Basically, sticky rice is the main food. Almost of the cooking are well done and fried with oil.

The northeast part of Thailand is hardly dry, therefore the main ingredients for food are actually varieties of insects which are the main protein sources for people in this area.  The main food is also the sticky rice. Vegetables and meats are almost local products.  Fermented fish is the main mixture to seasoning almost every dish but not for fried cooking and usually supplement with fresh vegetables.

So the exploration must continue, one restaurant at a time.

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

Spicy Chicken with Thai Basil

• 24 oz. thinly Sliced Chicken

• 6 oz. fresh chopped Thai Basil leaves

• 9 oz. fish sauce

• 9 oz. sliced white onions

• 9 oz. sliced bell peppers

• 4.5 oz. Chili Sauce


Heat and season your wok. Add the Beef first. Cook for 30 Seconds. Next, add the Vegetables along with the Thai Basil, cook for another 45 seconds. Season with the Chili Sauce and Fish Sauce. De-glaze the wok with 3 oz. of stock and serve.

East Island China Bistro and Sushi on Urbanspoon
Tong's Thai on Urbanspoon
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