Thai Tom 2011: Match 6

Panang Curry vs. Eggplant Ginger

Match 6

As the new normal, match 6 was performed take-out style. Today, Eggplant Ginger showed that when it’s on, it’s on in a huge way. In our biggest upset of 2011, Eggplant Ginger unseated the reigning champion in a very close call. While the Panang Curry was again excellent, it just couldn’t top the smoky charred delicious eggplant today. I guess sometimes you need a curry, other times a stir fry is the answer. Our final match of 2011 will probably be delayed a little while, as I’d like to take Gloria to the source for the occasion if possible.

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 5

Swimming Rama vs. Cashew Chicken

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We haven’t had Thai Tom since Gloria’s arrival, as it’s not the easiest quarters to squeeze a newborn into. But we had an itch to scratch, and thus loosened our tournament criteria to allow take-out as a viable option. I do not regret that decision. :)

The first time I had Swimming Rama at Thai Tom was pure serendipity. Lauren and I stopped by at closing time and asked if they were still serving. George said sure, but only if we wanted Pad Thai and Swimming Rama. While I do enjoy a good peanut sauce, I hadn’t ever thought to order Swimming Rama at Thai Tom before. Little did I realize what I was missing. Thai Tom’s Swimming Rama is like no other version I’ve had anywhere else. They mix in a generous portion of chili paste, and the result is more like a mildly-sweet peanut curry, similar to how I imagine massaman variation of pad prik giang would taste.

Unfortunately, today the Swimming Rama was overly sweet, and so it was easily topped by the consistently spiced cashew nut chicken that is second only to Mr. Poon. Swimming Rama, we’ll see you next year!

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 4

Garlic and Pepper vs. Eggplant Ginger (Passover versions with tofu and no rice)

Match 4

A few Passovers ago, Lauren discovered that if you order a dish at Thai Tom without rice, they will happily serve it to you over spinach instead and it’s delicious. So when my mother-in-law was craving Thai Tom on her visit this weekend, we were prepared.

Today’s match involved two of my favorite stir fries. #10 (Eggplant Ginger) was my first love of Thai Tom, with thin slices of Japanese eggplant that soak up the ginger-soy goodness. #9 (Garlic and Pepper), while not quite the crack-like-version I had in Mae Hong Son, still uses a heavy hand of both garlic and pepper to whet your taste buds. In the end, it was a very close call, but the nod went to Eggplant Ginger. If you have a group of three though, get both (with a curry as your third dish of course)!

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 3

Yellow Curry vs. Cashew Nut Chicken

Match 3

Today we needed to make another trip to UVillage (yes, we are still Crate and Barrel whores). After finishing our errands, we decided to make the most of the winter-break student lull and headed to Thai Tom for match #3. Yellow Curry was the first dish I ever had at Thai Tom, and I remember it fondly. While it was good, today it did not quite live up to my memories. I think in the future I’ll stick to having my Yellow Curry in soup form at Jamjuree. Cashew Chicken, while not quite as good as Mr. Poon’s, had a generous helping of cashews in a sauce that got better with every bite. Sayonara Yellow Curry!

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 2

Panang Curry vs. Pad Thai

Match 2

After a morning gym class, we had a leisurely brunch at Volunteer Park Café. Afterwards, as we were driving home, I turned to Lauren and asked “is it crazy that I’m a little hungry?” She smiled and responded “what’s next on the Thai Tom face-off?”

Shortly thereafter we indulged ourselves with Panang Curry and Pad Thai. The Pad Thai was fantastic, reminiscent of some of the renditions we had in northern Thailand, with tamarind juice instead of the ketchup that is so common in most American Pad Thai. Against most other dishes, that would have been it, but Panang Curry is the big dawg, the reigning top dish at Thai Tom, and it did not disappoint. So the Pad Thai is out, but it will definitely be a standard in my rotation once the tournament concludes.

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 1

Opening match: Swimming Rama vs. Big Rice Noodle in Thai Sauce

Match 1

To celebrate my birthday today, we had a delicious brunch at Tilth and front row seats at the Thai Tom counter for dinner. George was cooking up a storm and the flame levels kept us warm.

Tonight’s contest was a blow-out. While it’s been a few years since I’ve had Thai Tom’s Swimming Rama, it was every bit as good as I remember, with a rich curry-like peanut sauce. While I love sen yai, Big Rice Noodle in Thai Sauce had way too much fish sauce, and as a result was the big loser tonight. Next up: Panang Curry vs. Pad Thai.

George at work
George at work

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011 Showdown

It’s been almost five years since our original Thai Tom showdown, where Lauren and I methodically ran through a subjective set of face-offs across the 16-item menu. In the hopes of making the rotation more viable as an annual event, this year I’m only including the top eight seeds from that original tournament. Here are the 2011 match-ups, which I aim to complete in time for March Madness. For consistency, all of the dishes will be ordered with chicken and a spiciness of four stars.

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Lon Hoi Thot

Rating:

A few weeks ago, we discovered a delicious purveyor of Easy Thai near the Sunday Market, next to the Toyota dealership. Of the three small rarn ar harn dtarm sang located there, Lon Hoi Thot is the northernmost one (furthest from the market and directly across from the 7-11). They have an English menu available to foreigners, and of course all of the easy Thai classics are available even if they aren’t listed there. One of the family members, Koi, speaks excellent English and has provided me with a lot of pronunciation tips for ordering Thai food.

All of the food at Lon Hoi Thot is fresh and served very quickly from their two cooking stations. My favorite dish of theirs is gai kratiem prik thai (chicken with garlic and pepper). Lon Hoi Thot adds more garlic and chili to the dish than most places, which makes it the best one I’ve had in Thailand. I also really like their pad prik giang (vegetables in red curry sauce), either gai (with chicken) or jai (with tofu and extra vegetables).

When we took Lauren’s family here for lunch a few weeks ago, their comment after the meal was “is this place open for dinner? We want to come back tonight.” Unfortunately Lon Hoi Thot is only open until 4PM, but I took them on a repeat visit for lunch the next day.

The dishes at Lon Hoi Thot are priced similarly to other food stalls in town (about $1), the quality is very high, and the kratiem prik thai is completely addictive. We had some for lunch both yesterday and today, and I may have to stop by tomorrow (our final day in Mae Hong Son) for one more hit.

UPDATE (12/1/2011): I discovered on our return trip to Mae Hong Son that Lon Hoi Thot is now open for dinner! Oh, and the food remains as delicious as I remember it.

Lon Hoi Thot
Look for the big yellow sign, your smiling hostess Koi (in the glasses), and her mom the amazing chef

The chef at work
Cooking up pad prik giang

Chicken with garlic and pepper
Gai kratiem prik thai kai dao – it’s like crack

Pad prik geang
Pad prik geang kai dao

Pad thai sen yaiPad kra pao
Pad thai sen yai jay and pad kra pao gai

Lauren enjoying pad thai sen yai

Lon Hoi Thot
East side of Khunlumpraphat Road/Hwy 108
Across from the 7-11 and the Sunday Market
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
+66 (0) 5362-0690
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch (8:00AM-4:00PM)

Things We Will Miss

  • Easy Thai, especially Rarn P Dam, where Kenny eats lunch every weekday.
  • Super spicy delicious Burmese ethnic minority cuisine.
  • Mango and sticky rice.
  • Now that I mention it, mango with anything. Or mango with nothing.
  • Lychees, rambutans, and mangosteens.
  • Free community yoga twice a week.
  • Riding my bicycle everywhere and never worrying about traffic.
  • The fact that the highway, which runs right behind our apartment, generally has more joggers on it than cars.
  • Our co-workers, who have also become good friends.
  • Swimming in the Nam Pai on hot days.
  • Eating delicious fruits and vegetables every day that come from our own farm.
  • Living the easy life in our peaceful town, nestled in a beautiful valley.
  • Frogs, geckos, roosters, and other fun neighbors. Well, maybe not the roosters so much. They are pretty, but it will be nice to sleep in past 5am.
  • Drawing on our software engineering experience to contribute to the fight for democracy in Burma.

Kenny biking to Nai SoiLake wat

Mango and sticky riceNai Soi

Gorging on fruitThe farm

Rarn P Dam

Rating:

Across the street from P Nik’s, and next to the CP Fresh Mart, is my favorite Thai food vendor in Mae Hong Son. The setting is basic, though on the larger end for a rarn ar harn dtarm sang, and the food is fantastic. It’s run by a friendly Thai lady, P Dam, and her family.  She serves all of the Easy Thai dishes at their finest, and the lunchtime the operation is a sight to behold. Customers come up and give a verbal order, and somehow P Dam keeps all of the requests in her head, even when the queue is more than a dozen people long.

I’ve been going to Rarn P Dam for lunch almost every weekday since I discovered it, and I’m usually the only farang eating there. P Dam also knows that I like spicy food, so I can be assured of ample chilies. Unfortunately, Rarn P Dam is not open for dinner, and they are closed on Sundays, so Lauren wasn’t able to try their food for a few weeks (she lunches with her NGO during the week).

Over Songkran I was finally able to introduce Lauren to Rarn P Dam, and since then we’ve been going for Saturday lunches and the occasional weekday breakfast. All of the dishes are 25-30 Baht (less than $1), the vegetables are fresh and generously portioned, and P Dam is an ace with the wok.

Today, in preparation for this writing, I finally found out the name of my “Thai food stall across from Nik’s.” If you are in Mae Hong Son, you should definitely pencil in a lunch or two at Rarn P Dam. Lauren’s family ate here three times while they were visiting, and I’ll be stopping by for my daily fix until we leave next week. Yum!

P Dam at work
P Dam frying up pad thai sen yai

Assembly line for a bulk order
The happy family at work on a bulk lunch order of pad kra pao moo

Rarn P Dam
Fresh ingredients on display

Pad Thai sen yai jay
The best pad thai (sen yai) I’ve ever had

Pad kra pao jay kai dao
Pad kra pao jay kai dao (spicy vegetables with chili, basil and a fried egg on top), my favorite dish at P Dam

Pad see ew Kao jeow
Pad prik geang Pad kra pao jay
An assortment of other dishes available for 25 Baht

Lauren enjoying pad kra pao kai dao
Lauren enjoying her first P Dam experience

Rarn P Dam
SE Corner of Singhanart Bamrung and Phadit Joncume
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch (7:00AM-4:00PM)
+66 (0)84-3688533