Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pad Thai #1: The Berkeley Thai House

I mentioned to my friend, Elizabeth, that I had in the pipeline a pad thai-rating project. She quickly perked up and wanted to join me in doing a sampling of this widely-loved noodle dish. Immediately, we scheduled our first adventure, an old fave of mine from the college days -- The Berkeley Thai House. I've been a huge fan of their red curry and the eggplant basil, but don't remember feeling particularly drawn one way or another to the pad thai.

Another lovely friend, Kelly, also joined us for the tasting. The three of us came up with a lichard scale rating -- a 0 to 5 in three categories. Here they are:

1. Flavor: What's the sauce like? Is it too sweet or too salty? Does it match the other ingredients?
2. Consistency: Are the noodles done right? Crunchy and soft in all the right places?
3. Ingredients: What went into this particular pad thai? Was it missing anything? Were the elements fresh?
4. Overall Gut Feeling: This is purely subjective feeling of "did we like it?" and not based on a composite of the others!

While I believe in the importance of ambiance and price, we determined that it isn't a huge factor in the quality of East Bay pad thai for us. Incidentally, whether this is urban legend or not, I don't know but I remember hearing that Bill Gates was asked: What's the most you've ever paid for a pizza? He answered in the range of $300. Goes to show that no matter how much money you have, there's still a limit to how much you might spend on a certain item.

All this to say, that unlike some foodies, I don't have an infinite amount of money to be spending on food. On the other hand, my guess is that there will be few places where we will be priced out of good pad thai. Afterall, we're buying a plate of noodles--not a house--in the East Bay!

Okay, Summi, back to the Thai House. We ordered pad thai, red curry with vegetables (it's too good to resist), and tofu tod, which are squares of fried tofu served with a sweet, peanuty sauce. "Tod" was crispy on the outside but its soft interior melted in my mouth.

Drum roll, please. The results are:

FLAVOR: 4
The sauce was sweet and had a subtle undertone of barbeque to it. The dish was a little dry and could have been more liberally doused with this flavorful sauce. It also could have been slightly spicier, but that was our fault. My experience with the Thai House strongly suggests that had we asked for it, I'm sure our request would have been honored.

CONSISTENCY: 3
The noodles were a bit on the rubbery side. Also, no peanuts and listless scallions. (see below)

INGREDIENTS: 2
Thai House's pad thai had noodles, fried eggs, scallions, fried tofu, shrimp, bean sprouts, and a lemon on the side. The tofu could have definitely been cut smaller. More shrimp was in order. The scallions were cut into long (2 inch) pieces, which added little to the crunch or to the flavor. Furthermore, where's the ground peanut garnish? Or cilantro? Why lemon instead of lime?

OVERALL GUT FEELING: 3.5
Though we felt that this pad thai could have been enhanced, especially in its attention to the ingredients, the sauce was nevertheless unique and a pleasure to eat. Another plus for this dish: it wasn't too greasy.

More pad thai adventures to come. Stay tuned . . .

2 Comments:

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Summi -
Thank you for recording our evening in such luxurious, accurate language. Even though my tounge, an impulsive amnesiac, can't recall the flavors, it's a treat to remember our evening together. Keep writing! You're so good. - Kelly

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger نیکی said...

dude, summi, i can't believe you actually said "More shrimp was in order". Then again, who would've thought that one day my mouth would water at your descriptions of pad thai (remember i couldn't even stand to smell of thai food?). Anyway, thanks for the link. i'll be sure to add you to my sidebar next time i update my links. love, Niki

 

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