The lovely wife and I were out scouting out locations for St. Louis Ocarina and doing some shopping for Victorian era dresses. Normally that sort of thing wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but for Thai iced tea I would do most anything.
We were looking for a place in South city to have a light lunch before an afternoon appointment. Interestingly, the first two places (which shall remain nameless), were closed for lunch on Saturday. It was starting to get a little frustrating. However, we parked on South Grand and enjoyed a short stroll on a pleasant August afternoon, when something caught my Thai…I mean eye. (Sorry, that was a bad one.)
I hadn’t had Thai for quite a while, and had never been to King and I. But the prospect of Thai iced tea on a perfect summer’s day lured us in to this slice of Thailand amidst the Vietnamese restaurants along South Grand.
If you check out their website, you will notice that they have recently remodeled the café, and are still working on the main dining room. The café has been decorated in a minimalist, modern design, with black tables and chairs. Although it seemed a little sterile, the background music and cool lighting made for a comfortable feel after a frustrating morning.
Linda, our server, was prompt and cheerful with our drinks, and taking our order. While taking my order, she asked the most mystifying question at any Thai restaurant, “How spicy would you like it?” I have always found this to be a roll of the dice at any new Thai place. A little background on that.
First off, I do enjoy spicy foods. I also enjoy the different ways capsaicin is delivered in different foods. Punchy Cajun spice, that slow, lingering heat of Indian food, the burst of spice and cilantro in Mexican. However, in Thai food it can be a knockout blow to your mouth and enjoyment of your meal, or a pleasing heat to be dulled by coconut milk and sticky rice.
I still remember the first time I tried Thai food. I liked Indian and thought I’d branch out. I ordered some Pad Thai “Hot”, and was able to get through the meal with some sweat, but really enjoyed it. That gave me false confidence for my second foray into Thai.
I visited a local Thai restaurant, Thai Gourmet in O’Fallon. They are excellent, and very friendly. However, the first time I was in there, I chose “Native Thai” (or something similar) as my heat level in a curry dish. Let’s just say, I had difficulty keeping my dignity intact during a meal that actually reduced me to tears. To add to my misery, I was eating alone. I either appeared:
D) All of the above
The wise learn from their mistakes. I chose medium heat in my green curry with pork, while Sarah chose sweet glazed pork skewers with sticky rice.
During the short wait for our lunches to arrive, I enjoyed the Thai iced tea. It was very well mixed, with ample sweetened condensed milk, and that background hint of coconut. Most places pour the coconut milk or condensed milk on top of the tea, but King and I apparently blends the tea and milk together. I really enjoyed the consistency of flavor.
Our lunches arrived, we were very satisfied.
The green curry had thin slices of delectable pork, draped in a broth of green curry and coconut milk. The flavor was enhanced with crisp bell peppers, green peas that still popped, and large fresh basil leaves. The heat was truly as advertised, medium. I found it to be a little mild for my taste, and actually added a miniature ladle* of the chili paste that came as a condiment. Taking a spoonful of rice to dip into the broth with some pork, pepper, and peas was a perfect flavor combination. The rice and sweet-spicy broth complimented each other very well.
*I would love to have a set of miniature cooking utensils. Made by elves.
I also enjoyed a bite of one of Sarah’s pork skewers. They looked very appetizing with evenly spaced grill marks and a glistening glaze on top. The juicy pork got an added jolt of flavor from the tangy, sweet glaze.
We quickly went through our meal, and Linda returned to check on us, and later promptly took care of our bill. As I left, the last sips of Thai iced tea cooled my palate as we walked out on a glorious summer afternoon full of mansions and Victorian era dresses. Check out King and I! Thai it, you’ll like it! …ooohh…couldn’t resist.
Finally, what are your local Thai favorites? Let me know!