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Thai. Seriously. At Summer Canteen

A real summer has no vegetables.

In the continuing story of trying to find new and interesting food in the Valley, a coworker suggested trying out a place called Summer Canteen. Not knowing what sort of food a place named Summer Canteen would have, I opened up the menu online to find that it served none other than Thai. Wait, Thai? Really? I thought the rule of Thai restaurant naming was that it had to have “Thai” in its name (Thai Boom, Thai Smile, Natalee Thai, etc.) or use words from the Thai language (Jitlada). Summer Canteen broke these two rules, and would go on to break one more.

You see, the other cardinal rule of Thai restaurants is to offer crazy cheap lunch specials. Summer Canteen had lunch specials, alright, but they weren’t crazy cheap. In fact, their Massaman Lamb Lunch Set ran for 12 whole bucks. It was frightening, but I still needed a lunch, so I ordered the Panang Beef. It came with soup or salad, and since both were vegetable-based, I ordered the salad just to try the peanut sauce (which was delicious, if only it had not been on lettuce). Then, given a choice between white and brown rice I chose the brown.

The service was pretty fast, and my food was soon presented to me. Most would have looked at the presentation and seen something beautiful. I, however, could not take my eyes off the giant bok choy sitting on top of all my food. Fortunately, this giant green disaster left no remnants as I moved it to the edge of the plate to eat my real food. First, I ate the spring roll, which was pretty tasty, but nothing mind-blowing. After destroying that in two bites, I moved to the main course. Differing from most beef curry I’ve had before, the beef chunks were stew-sized and pretty much the most tender beef I’ve had in my life. And it wasn’t just tender, it also had great flavor from the panang curry. Mildly spicy, the panang didn’t force me to my glass of water, but still let me know my spice buds were still on my tongue.

The rice was way brown and way thick. But it was also really tasty, especially combined with the panang curry. And this brings me to my only real non-vegetable problem with Summer Canteen: not enough curry. I didn’t need my dish to drown in the stuff, but at 9 bucks for a lunch set, I would have liked enough to spread comfortably between the rice and beef. Sadly, this was not the case.

Yet, despite the problems of salad, bok choy and short curry, my meal at Summer Canteen was pretty awesome. The curry was tasty, the beef even tastier andin the end the $9 lunch set did not feel like a rip off because I was full and my taste buds were happy. It looks like the Valley has one more restaurant to brag about.