When it comes to Thai, Tara wins.
Although you might not be able to tell from the reviews so far, Thai food is my favorite cuisine. (Indian comes second.) So, you might ask, where are all the Thai restaurant reviews? Good question.
My policy is to review places where I like to eat. Since my return to Texas I've tried four Thai restaurants, some forgettable, some regrettable. Only one makes the cut. I've been there twice and tried four entrees. This place rocks.
I always get Panang curry the first time I hit a Thai place. It's funny how different the Panang curry recipies are. At some places they are all about the peanut sauce. Other places don't have a hint of peanut, but have long green beans and sweet onions. Some have all three. I don't care how they decide to spin it, as long as the curry is front and center. And hot if I don't have to share. Just enough to put the glow in the cheeks and that patina of sweat on the brow.
Thai Tara does curry right. I can also recommend the Gang Dang curry. Even better, I think. (Note: servings big enough to take home leftovers. Num!) Oh man, I'm thinking maybe I should crack open the leftovers in the fridge and get another taste. Steady, old bean!
There might be other good Thai places in town, but I haven't found them, yet. Perhaps I'll have to look up north.
For you more timid souls, there's always McDonalds. Just kidding, there are some less volcanic dishes on the menu. The Pad Thai is decent. The Cashew Chicken tastes great and is mild enough for my mother, who only has to look at a red pepper to break out in a sweat.
Speaking of which, if you're not a lover of hot peppers, you might wonder why some people just love eating those spicy dishes. It's all about the buzz. As Graeme's website points out:
An alkaloid substance called Capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) that causes the heat of chiles and peppers is a flavourless, odourless chemical concentrated in the veins of chiles and peppers. When eaten, capsaicin stimulates the brain to release a neurotransmitter called substance P, which lets the brain know something painful is going on. The brain, 'thinking' that the body is in big trouble, mistakenly responds by turning on the waterworks to douse the flames. The mouth starts to salivate, the nose starts to run, the eyes might start to water and the face breaks into a sweat. The heart beats faster and the natural painkiller endorphin is secreted.
In other words, peppers make you feel good. You might be saying, "How can I feel good if my mouth is on fire?" The answer is that you can take a lot more than you think you can. Many is the time I've ordered a hot dish, taken one bite and thought my head was going to bounce off the ceiling tiles. But, after a wait of a few minutes for the next bite, I discovered that you can actually condition yourself to move your threshhold. Like Graeme says, "Capsaicin does not actually burn, instead it stimulates nerve endings in your mouth, giving the sensation of burning."
So, who is going to be in control? You or your nerve endings? You have trained yourself not to become a slave to your body in other areas. (Haven't you? Of course you have.) Why should you let the nerve endings in your tongue call the shots? Join the fun and grab a nice helping of Evil Jungle Prince!
Well, they don't actually do Evil Jungle Prince, which was invented at Keo's in Honolulu and has been copied by other Thai places. (I got it once at a great Thai place in Denver. Dang it was hot!) But they do have something called Party with a Mermaid. (
Next time I'm going to try the Corn & Yam (Chef special’s corn and yam patties, flash-fried, and served with sweet and sour sauce) and the Tsunami (Shrimp, squid, green mussels and scallops stir fried with fresh basil, onion, mushrooms, bell peppers and Thai chili, and served on a sizzling plate). Wow.