The historical interrelationships of Southeast Asian countries is fascinating, especially for those in the Indochina parts. Amazingly, they have each maintained such strong individual cultures and that is no more apparent than in the food. You see, after some time in Vietnam a few of us were tired of Vietnamese food. So, obviously we wanted a burger or a burrito or pizza? Right? Wrong. We went for Thai food at a place called Tuk Tuk.
It’s always important to have a solid Thai place nearby for when a) you want something delivered that is lighter than pizza, b) you have friends with dietary restrictions and c) you need some flavor in your life. Fortunately, I have Chao Doi nearby in Pasadena, which, after eating in the delivery style a number of times, I finally decided to dine in.
Few restaurants have been on my to-eat list longer than Jitlada, a Thai spot in the middle of Thai Town (which itself is kind of in the middle of Hollywood). The original plan was just to meet a couple of friends for some authentic eats, but we ended up biting off a lot more than we had planned for. You see, throughout the evening we had sporadic, then more significant conversations with Jazz, the woman (and Iron Chef competitor) behind the whole place.
Just off the main drag of South Lake in Pasadena is a little Thai spot that goes by the name Nine and Nine. What the name means is lost to me, but what wasn’t lost to me was their lunch specials for $7.50, which captivated me as I browsed the menu. Like most Thai places, the lunch specials menu was a small fraction of the whole, but it had curry and that’s all a guy like me could ask for.
What do you call a restaurant called Abricott? Do you pronounce it like apricot? Do you slow it down and enunciate everything? Or do you just refer to it as “that Asian place down on Lake”? I prefer the latter option, because at the end of the day that’s really what it is. Abricott is loaded with a variety of different Asian offerings, like Korean, Chinese, Thai, and all that jazz. On this day, though, it was the Thai that struck me.
While attempting to get our bearings on food in Pasadena, we stopped in Thai place called Daisy Mint, which promised to be more than just an ordinary Thai spot based on its eclectic furnishings and somewhat unique menu. It wasn’t easy getting a stroller into the tiny place, but we made it work and set about eating.
Pittsburgh isn’t exactly known for having a wide breadth of ethnic food. Nonetheless, the place continues to surprise in terms of variety. Take, for example, the Smiling Banana Leaf in Highland Park. In case you couldn’t tell by the name, the place is Thai and has a surprisingly interesting menu. I say surprising because while it’s relatively sizable like many Thai spots, some things I had never seen before.
After many days abroad, one might think I wouldn’t jump right into another ethnic meal after returning to the USA. Well, you’re right, because my first stop was Taco Bell, but after that set my stomach straight it was time for a meal at Nicky’s Thai Kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nicky’s sits on the fancy end of the Thai spectrum, which is usually something I try to avoid because cheap Thai is awesome, yet I was willing to give Nicky’s a try.
In my mind, no trip to Sin City is worth it without committing the sin of gluttony. There are many outlets for said gluttony, but none better than one of the city’s amazing buffets. And perhaps there is no better buffet than the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace. As an added bonus, for brunch they throw bottomless mimosas on top of their mess of food. And what a beautiful mess of food it is. The place is simply huge, with each station being big enough to house an entire buffet at any lesser establishment.
After crossing the border back into the good old USA from Canada, it was time to visit a border-crossing restaurant – namely Saigon Bangkok (the borders being Vietnam and Thailand, which of course don’t even border each other). Where many Asian restaurants purport to be one thing while offering additional options, Saigon Bangkok unabashedly offers multiple options and keeps them limited to just that. While I’m a fan of both cuisines, in this case I concentrated all my efforts on Thai.