Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Gai Yang Foo

Thai BBQ chicken, aka Gai Yang (pronounced Guy Yaahng - rhymes with bong), apparently is an endangered species. Last night I ordered it for dinner in Palo Alto at Thaiphoon, and was served boneless, skinless strips of Tandoori chicken breast. Tonight, in an attempt at karmatic dining, I ordered it at Pacific Thai in Santa Cruz, and got underdone grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast which had been dusted with that yellow satay powder and sliced into strips. Both times it was served with a cup of Thai honey pepper sauce on the side.

Thai BBQ chicken is cuisine of the Northeast, and it is done like this:

Take a whole chicken
Baste it with honey pepper sauce
Cook it over coals on a spit
Keep basting it
When it's done and a little more brown than golden, take it off the spit, and use a cleaver to chop it up, skin, bones and all, into bits about 1" wide.
Serve with honey pepper sauce.
Traditionally it is served with sticky rice, but long grain Thai white rice is okay too.

Pacific Thai also ruined dessert. I have never before had mango with sticky rice where the mango had been previously frozen. Yuck. And the sticky rice was purple with sesame seeds and some other crunchy seeds or beans mixed in. That's a different dessert, it doesn't belong with mango. Mango requires white sticky rice soaked with sweetened condensed milk and maybe coconut milk.

I am reminded of something I wrote 20 years ago when I led ba.singles jaunts to the Thai restaurants in the south bay. There is a lot of excellent food in the local Thai restaurants, but there is not a lot of authentic Thai food.

Both places committed cutlery crime. Thaiphoon sets their tables with chopsticks. Thais do not use chopsticks except to eat Chinese food. Chopsticks are for barbarians who don't know how to use a fork and spoon. Pacific Thai sets their tables with a fork and knife. Knives are weapons, and putting one at someone's place at the table is tantamount to a death threat. There should have been a spoon, but there wasn't. Pacific Thai added to the non-authentic atmosphere by playing a CD of pan pipe music from the Andes.

My waiter at Thaiphoon did not speak Thai. He was Chinese. My waitress at Pacific Thai was Thai, from Surin, and spoke not only Thai but also the command  language they use with the elephants (Surin for the past 100 years or so has hosted the annual elephant round-up), however it took her a minute to realize I was speaking Thai because, she said, they did everything in English there, including placing orders with the kitchen. Out of the wait staff of five, only two were Thai. It is possible that the Caucasian woman and the African-American man spoke Thai, I just didn't ask. Should have, just to be fair. After all, looking at me, who would guess I speak it?
Tags: review

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