It's rare that I've eaten in Thai restaurants that have exploded my idea of what Thai food is, introducing me to exciting dishes as good as anything I've ever eaten anywhere. For years, decades even, Thai menus in America offered a list of preparations — stir-fried with basil, garlic and pepper, or ginger; stewed in red, green, or yellow curry — that you could order with your choice of meat, fowl, or seafood. The idea that nothing changed except the protein was less than inspiring. Classic Thai food is supposed to balance spicy, sour, sweet, and salty in each dish, but the general impression would be sweetish, with nam pla (fish sauce) seasoning almost everything. In addition, there'd be some appetizers (often including satay), salads (including the dependable larb, minced pork or chicken in a spicy lime dressing), soups (equally dependable: tom kha gai, the coconut-milk soup with chicken, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves), and noodles (pad thai, rice noodles topped with fresh herbs and... More >>>