"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Menu Consulting & Stuff

I've been thinking lately that most Thai (and other--but mainly Thai) restaurants need a menu consultant. What a great job for a logophile gourmand! Then it occurred to me that if Thai restaurants reworked their menus it might be difficult to tell whether or not the food was worth eating. Robinson's Law of Thai Menus stipulates that the more inscrutable the menu is, the better the food. Conversely, legible, correctly-spelled menus with appealing-sounding dishes tend to be one marker of a poor/bland/tasteless Thai eating experience. Why is that?

I ate at the new place again the other night (a "pretty" Thai restaurant with a "clean" menu). The beef salad was passable. Beef slightly overcooked. Dressing, notably, contained lemon juice instead of lime (big mistake) and the heat level was barely perceptible, despite the three stars magic-markered onto my take-out box. So, once again, the food was fairly tasty, but not particularly "authentic." (As if I know what this means, having never been to Thailand.)

My idea of authenticity in Thai comes from my own explorations in Thai cooking (begun in 1992 or so, and continued intermittently throughout the years). I was living in San Diego in '92 and I used to eat the gai yang at Saffron regularly. Although I hear Saffron is now a full-service, sit-down joint, a dozen years or so ago, it was mainly a take-out stand serving barbecued chicken with a full complement of dipping sauces, sticky rice, and the occasional salad or spring roll (these ancillary items were rotated regularly). I prepared my own Thai dishes using Thai Home Cooking From Kamolmal's Kitchen, which I just-this-instant ordered from ABE. I lent my copy to a friend years ago. The friend moved.

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