Monday, July 4, 2011

thai ginger

thai ginger is an institution in the greater seattle area. first in factoria, based in a trailer, the place touts its "on of the 50 best thai restaurants in america" honors from 2007. now it has 5-ish locations. in sum, very good thai food made for the american palate. here are the details:

the ambiance is very kitchy. bamboo, a little thai art, some background music that smacks of the way southeast asia is, in people's heads. it's about as authentic an experience as maggiano's is an authentic italian experience. service neither adds nor detracts, it's middling.

this go around, i had pad thai and mini egg rolls (egg rolls = not that great, without much flavor and no meat). last time it was red curry, green curry, and tom kai ka. this hardly represents the entire menu, but it's a decent cross section.

portions are small. smallish for a normal dinner, exceptionally small for thai served in america. food flavors are good, but i take exception to their spice. first, it is not spicy. 4, 5, whatever they call their version of the most spicy, it's not. what this means is, they're serving to an american palate, and/or they had enough people complain about real spice that they stopped and now a normal spice loving person can't get a reasonably spicy meal. next, lazy spicy. spice is not developed in an ingenious stewing concoction, or with a combination of spice sources or fresh peppers. it mostly comes from crushed red chili. verdict - lazy! now, for a disclaimer. if you have an american palate, that is to say, you are a normal person who likes normal fare in the good ol' u. s. of a., i doubt you'll be disappointed.

my first thai ginger experience was with a family group of about 5 or 6. everyone ordered something different, and it was a family-style type atmosphere. i ordered a green curry with (their max) 4 stars. i went to lengths to tell the waitress, disregard my whiteness and bring me real, thai-spicy, spicy food. she chuckled and said ok. it landed with some extra chili peppers/red chili flake, and she told me she would bring me more, but i declined. a spoonful of dry chili peppers might add spice, but that's it. it destroys any real flavor that the dish does have. i tried it. i looked around. is this a joke? another friend was there, a female who loved spicy food, she also found it lacking in the spice department. meanwhile, 4 other people kept talking about how spicy their food was, and one person had forehead sweat beads. i concluded, (as the other side of the table also ordered green curry) maybe they had made it out of the same batch and disregarded their request for 2 stars. and then i tried it. it was like eating green curry flavored coconut milk. their was nothing spicy about it. nothing. truly my puny 4 star spice was spicier than their 2 star cat-milk spicy food. shock. awe. shock.

what does this all mean? not much. it's passable. good even for seattle thai food. certainly overhyped, certainly catering to the eastside's bourgeois. if you're right there, i'd stop by and give it a try, but i would not go out of my way for it.

thai ginger
five locations
my experience from:
3717 factoria blvd se
bellevue, wa
3 of 5

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