Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chang Mai Thai - You've Changed

It started when they changed in the menu in the first time in what seemed like forever. Since this has always been one of my favorite restaurants, I'd always wanted options. I'd like to explore the Thai cuisine, if you will. But they didn't, so far as I could tell, add anything. Instead, they took away one of my favorite items, the clear tofu soup! It sounds terrible, right? No, my friends, this was one heavenly, flu-ass-kickin' soup. There was little bits of fried garlic, an amazing depth of flavor to the broth. It was one of those very rare, perfect foods that is tasty and probably really good for you, too. I yearn for the floating ribbons of spinach and the merry little shrimps that I'd request be added. But no. They took it away because probably not enough people ordered it because it had such a useless name! It's like that Himalayan place on Hennepin next to Urban Outfitters. I'm never going to go there because the menu gives me indication of what the food is going to taste like. And, never having been to the Himalayans, I've got no food memory to go on. Everything is a variation on chicken and rice. Well, what the eff does that mean? There about seven hundred million different ways that combo can be prepared!

But I digress. Back to the Chiang. Okay, so they took away my soup and this behooved me. Then, they changed the serving portions to much more manageable and less family sized. But they didn't change the prices. Also, one of my other favorite things, the Pad Kee Mao is now made with smaller, roundy noodles that appear to be made with glue because that's how it tastes every time I've ordered it since. What I had come to love as Pad Kee Mao was basically Pad Thai dressed up for an evening on the town. There was the velvety Thai basil and the flashy, fiery spices were kicked up. Now, it's more the dowdy roommate that never gets invited along. The one that sulks in her room while everyone else is having a good time. God, I hated living with her. And I certainly do not want her coming along and making me pay!

I could go on to the curry fiasco, but I'll spare you the gory details. What has remained the same, and what not enough people know about, is their fantastic happy hour. Half price wine and pints and discounts on well drinks. Best of all is the cheapie, cheapie appetizers. My absolute favorite has to be the Bird's Nest. They dice up chicken and shrimp, wrap the mixture in rice noodles and then fry them. The Nesties are served with Shri Racha hot sauce and Sweet and Sour sauce. Four for $3.50 is a bargain! Last night my sweetie and I went for the Minnesota Dining Hour, 5:00 and had a whole meal out of their appetizers. We had plenty to drink and still went home with money in our pockets! We also had their Burning Wings of Fire, (I went down with a burnin' wing of fire.... I just got that) which really, the wings do not burn. They are just chicken wings, seasoned up a bit with good ol' S&P then fried. The burning, spicy flavor comes entirely from this wondrous green sauce served with them. My friend Mark, a chef currently running the kitchen at the Wayzata Country Club has been working on a way to duplicate this sauce. It's some combination of jalapenos, cilantro with a little citrus. But it's so much more! AND I CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT!!! Drives me nuts every time because this stuff would be so good on so many different things.

I also had the fresh spring rolls with curried beef. I forgot that the beef makes them look more like fresh pooh rolls, so I'd skip it if you're one of those "visual" eaters.

There are many other good options, the happy shrimp indeed make me very happy. There are the fried spring rolls and even cream cheese wontons for the kiddies.

I miss so much the ability to have dinner there at a reasonable hour. But, if you're looking for a romantically lit cheap date, this is an excellent place. The decor can't be beat and the service we had last night was wonderful. You've changed, and we may be growing apart, but Chiang, you know I love ya!


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