A La Carte Thai Bistro: Where Every Dish Makes a Meal
Restaurant diners at a Thai Restaurant know to order one from each category of Fried Rice & Noodles, Curries and Soups & salads, and that A La Carte means priced separately. And at A La Carte Thai Bistro. every dish is a meal in and of itself– visible by the parade of enticing colorful, original dishes being brought to other tables.
How good? I was relieved afterward that four of us polished off four dishes – one to each diner. That is, until I realized our host was not eating and one of us only ate chicken! My mouth waters at the very thought of the food.
All the more surprising because the stark, contemporary black and white look of the interior (with two beautiful pieces of gold artwork on the walls) and the minimalist look from the outside does not prepare you for the rush of array of dishes prepared from scratch on the tables. Neither do the simple menu descriptions.
So when we saw dishes being brought to other tables, that’s how we first ordered. The Pacific Rim Rolls are attention-grabbers, with their glassy (rice paper) encased lettuce wraps allowing a peek of the salmon showing on a big square plate. A smaller dish filled with lime vinaigrette sits in the middle.
The appetizer dish is perfection in terms of balanced flavor – umami, that adds a fifth dimension, in fact- because the crunch of the sumptuous texture of the salmon has a bit of crunch as well – fresh and flash-fried for each serving- and so do the slivers of carrots, too. Of course the colors are spring-like and fresh, with greens, oranges and the coral of the fish. The vinaigrette provides the mild tart flavor of citrus.
Another appetizer dish that looks like a spring garden is the Tuna Tatare, listed simply as”Finely diced Ahi Tuna tossed with spicy and sour sauce. “ A field of multi-color (edible) greens with the refined tuna cubes that are absolutely impossible to stop eating. Again, the crunch
Vorraunt Kooannpong is the young owner, who has a lifetime of experience cooking with his mom, and also raised in a family of successful restaurant owners. Several of the original dishes are family treasures. VK told us the history of their evolution, his face lighting up with the memories.
“VK” is passionate about the freshness of all the ingredients, and knows all the trade secrets of which vendors are best. His cooks prepare everything from scratch in the kitchen. And with dishes that require intricate cooking times – such as combining fresh lettuce with flash-fried fish or seafood, this is crucial.
VK was especially proud of his Supreme Snap Pea dish, which he explained showcases an American veggie not often found in Thai cuisine. In the categore of Seafood & Specialties, the dish is explained on the menu simply as Snap pea,
coconut, onion, fried tofu and peanut. But what a combination to showcase the very name, “snap” of the peas, echoed in the ground peanuts and a variety of textures. The sweet of the coconut is almost imperceptible but completely changes the dish. The yet crunchy-coated fried tofu is equally original.
P.E.T. is listed simply as pumpkin, eggplant, fried tofu and bell peppers, but again it is such a straightforward dish with so many textures and flavors that every mouthful is special.
Ad not to disregard the Fried Rice & Noodles section, we order the Pad Thai, rice noodle, bean sprout, egg, onion, peanut with shrimp and chicken. It was excellent with each ingredient standing alone and making it more than the sum of its parts.
And in the Curry section, we order the unusual Pumpkin Curry, with pumpkin, bell pepper and onion. It too was a glorious color and prepared perfectly.
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