Smart Cook, Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai

Smart Cook, Thai Cookery School was an interactive, informative class which we highly suggest to any visitor of Chiang Mai, especially the short express class. Even with an abridged version of the class, we were overly stuffed by all our dishes and sampling our classmates dishes. We enjoyed making and sampling a wide array of popular Thai dishes including papaya salad, pad thai, chicken coconut soup, spring rolls, curry and banana egg rolls.

Our friendly instructor spoke fluent English, was very patient and explained the origins of ingredients and the Thai cooking philosophy. We selected which multi-course dishes we wanted to make and enjoy for lunch and dessert.  We prepped all the ingredients from fish sauce, coconut milk to papaya to curry paste, in an outdoor area, before we went to our woks and the outdoor kitchen area.

As we learned about how to make our own dishes, the other classmates dishes were explained so we learned the basics of every dish in the recipe book. This made the experience more fun to see what other items could be made with similar ingredients.  Participants receive a recipe book, which was a nice way to practice back home. After experiencing Smart Cook, we realized how fresh and easy it is to prepare Thai dishes and that we shouldn’t be ordering from restaurants when we can make all the delicious food at home.

Chilli Duck, Back Bay, Boston Revisited

We have been long time fans of Chilli Duck (BMH review Chilli Duck) and Thai Basil  dining in and ordering take out. We think Chilli Duck has great Thait fresh rolls. However, still doesn’t beat out mother’s Fresh Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn Chay) or Indochine Catering’s rolls sold at Equal Exchange.

The Chilli Duck Vegetarian Fresh rolls were beautifully presented  with shreds of lettuce, cucumber, carrots, basil leaves and rice vermicelli noodles rolled up in soft spring rolls skin. The brown peanut sauce was savory and had a nice nutty flavor from the crushed peanuts ($6.95).

We also enjoyed an order of Pad See Iew Noodles ($9.95). The wide, flat rice noodles were stir fried with tender chicken egg, carrots, broccoli and Chinese broccoli in a dark, sweet soy sauce. Very tasty.

Chilli Duck on Urbanspoon

House of Siam, South End, Boston

House of Siam is a lovely South End restaurant with two locations, one on Columbus Avenue, the other located on Tremont’s Restaurant Row. One can not miss the red umbrellas al fresco on a nice afternoon or the twinkle lights at dusk.

House of Siam is one of our favorite haunts for Thai take out or an evening dining in for unparalleled Thai hospitality. The simple room has nice decorative touches and gold statues.

The dining room has a lot of plant life and flower arrangements.

We started our meal with a very sweet, orange hued Thai Ice Tea ($2.00).

The Pad Thai ($10.95) had delicate pan-fried rice noodles with bits of eggs, tender chicken, mixed with green onions, beans sprouts and a generous sprinkling of ground peanuts. The balanced flavor of the ingredients were pleasant on the palate and very enjoyable. We love ordering their pad thai.

The Crispy Pad Thai  ($11.95) had a different type of noodle from the regular rice noodle pad thai. The super crispy yellow noodles brought a distinct textural contrast to the base of chicken, shrimp, scallions, bean sprouts and ground peanuts. We prefer regular rice noodle pad thai to crispy pad thai, because of the texture, but it was still very tasty.

One of our favorite Thai desserts are fried bananas and House of Siam does this dessert well. Their Fried Banana is served with a drizzling of sweet honey and sprinkled with sesame ($3.95). No ice cream, nor condensed milk, which would mask the delicate banana flavor. The crispy exterior of the egg roll wrapped encased a smooth and soft ripe banana. The banana center was melt in your mouth. Delicious. If we had an outdoor fryer, we would make them all the time.

House of Siam on Urbanspoon

Thai Iced Tea

During the summer, a glass of iced tea, specifically Thai iced tea is satisfying. Instead of purchasing the orange colored tea at a restaurant, we can enjoy the light sweetness and milky flavored tea at home.

Adapted from Instructables

Yields: 2 glasses of tea

    • 2/3 cup Thai tea leaves
    • 1 2/3 cup water
    • 1/3 cup sugar in the raw or agave nectar
    • 1 1/2 cup evaporated Milk (12 ounce can) or soy milk

Boil water and once the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the heat to stop the boiling, and then add the tea leaves to the pot, stirring to moisten them.

Do not boil the tea, just let the tea steep in hot water for 4 minutes. Carefully strain the tea into heat resistant pitcher through a sieve.

When the tea is in the pitcher, add your sweetener, and stir to dissolve. You have to add the sweetener when the tea is hot, otherwise you’ll never get it to dissolve fully. Put the tea in the fridge for a few hours to cool it down.

To serve the tea, fill a tall glass with ice, and pour the tea over the ice, leaving about 1/4 of the glass empty at the top. Top the glass off with evaporated or soy milk. Pour slowly, so that the layers stay distinct. Serve with a straw or long spoon for mixing.

Pepper Sky’s, Central Square, Cambridge

In search for some Thai cusine, one of my dear friends and I decided to catch up at Pepper Sky’s on Pearl Street, in Central Square. This was a first time visit to the Cambridge restaurant revered by its loyal customers for dining in, delivery and take out. After taking cooking classes in Chiang Mai, we wanted to see the difference between American vs authentic Thai (BMH’s visit to Smart Cook, Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai).

Pepper Sky’s Thai Sensation holds a special place in my dining companion’s heart, because Pepper Sky’s was where she had her first date with her fiance. Over multiple Pepper Sky’s dishes and an exchange of travel stories they are now engaged. Adorable.

Before entering Pepper Sky’s, I could not help but admire the pop of color in a neighboring cement building.

Upon entrance, we noticed the stereotypical Asian fish tank. Good feng shui. The restaurant was very busy and the ambiance cozy and casual.

Pepper Sky’s dinner menu includes salads and appetizers such as fresh rolls and papaya salad, soups including my favorite tom yum soup, as well as curries and fried rice. Their Specials Menu has more Pan-Asian dishes such edamame, scallion pancakes and chicken wings.

My friend had I both had a refreshing homemade limeade. There was a nice balance between citrus flavor and sweetness. In fact, the limeade was a bit tangy, which was exactly what I wanted.

I greatly enjoyed an order of the Vegetable Pad Thai ($9.95) with a side of fried tofu. The harmonious blend of egg, broccoli, blanched string bean, fresh bell pepper with crushed peanut and bean sprouts was crunchy, lightly sweet and delicious. I would definitely order this again or try the Spicy Pad Thai next time.

I sampled my friend’s Drunken Noodle ($9.95) and I wish I ordered that dish! The spicy wide noodle was stir-fried with onion, basil, bell pepper, chili, bamboo, tomato and string bean. The combination was a perfect combo of hot, sweet, salty, savory and umami.

According to the menu, Drunken noodles were originally stir-fried by a singing drunkard to starve off midnight hunger.Ingredients previously thought to be incompatible were tossed into the wok, and voila Drunken noodle.

Whenever we are in Central Square next, can not wait to sample more of Pepper Sky’s menu.

Pepper Sky's on Urbanspoon

One Ten Thai, Aguadilla

After a perfect day at the beach and hearing superlative commentary about the best Thai place on the island, we had to go to One Ten Thai. One Ten Thai in Aguadilla is a pan-Asian restaurant filled with limited indoor and plentiful outdoor seating. The restaurant is only open evenings from 5pm-10pm. Throughout our dining experience, there was an incessant stream of ex-pat or American patrons waiting for seating.

The outdoor ambiance was fun with the lighting and simple set up. The music playing was so clear, it felt as if there was a live outdoor band, in fact was a precarious ipod and speaker setup.

Although the restaurant is a welcome break from Puerto Rican cuisine, it was overly hyped that their Asian was a bit of a disappointment.  In addition, none of the staff were of Asian descent.

The limited menu is filled with stir fries, curries, noodles and a variety of popular Asian appetizers.

The Thai iced tea was the perfect level of sweetness and milkiness. One of the best items ordered.

The order of three summer rolls ($4) were filled with veggies and cabbage and served with a parcha dipping sauce. Despite using the very sweet parcha sauce, the rolls were sill flavorless and half of them fell apart upon holding or biting the roll.

The dim sum homemade Thai pork dumplings ($3) were steamed and served with a chili soy dipping sauce. Again, the pork dumplings were lacking flavor and could not be saved even with the chili soy sauce.

The sweet potato coco soup $4 was warming, had a light sweetness and was very pleasant to sip.

One Ten Thai’s chicken pad thai was tasty. It came with carrots, bean sprouts, sliced zucchini, tofu, ground peanuts and egg in tamarind sauce ($11).

The Thai green curry ($10) zucchini, bell peppers, onions, eggplant, broccoli and Thai basil was again lacking that exponential kick heat and flavor. There were three of us who ordered the Thai green curry and the three of us had to add additional Sriracha, but something was still missing.

The pad cashew, with extra heat ($11) was full of nutty cashews, fresh pineapple, and ginger, bell peppers, onions, and carrots in a garlic brown sauce. This dish we would get again. It was layered, tasty and we wanted more.

One o our other favorites of the evening which was quite delicious and we would try to order this another time. The fish curry served with white rice and a smooth broth which was nicely seasoned. The fish was flakey.

Boda, Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine is a lovely city that is diverse and has a fun, quirky vibe to it. We stopped at Boda on the way home for a quick bite to eat. They pride themselves on being a “very Thai kitchen and street-vendor inspired tapas and skewer bar.” We were pleasantly surprised at how friendly and welcoming the staff was despite the fact we had to wait forty minutes for a table. The wait time was not strange given it was a Saturday and they do not take reservations, so we opted to sit at the bar instead. There is parking in a lot behind Joe’s Smokeshop, which is next door to Boda. Boda is also the sister restaurant to the Green Elephant (BMH’s review), a vegetarian restaurant, right down the street. We enjoyed the food immensely because it was full of bright fresh flavors and the skewers we had were quite good despite the price. We would return to try other things on the menu and especially the black sticky rice dessert with coconut cream, which makes us think of the sweet sticky rice with mango of our childhood.

Grilled shrimp skewers with spicy garlic lime dipping sauce $7

Beef skewers marinated in ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime leaves, lemongrass $5

Wolfe’s Neck Farm Organic Beef Salad $13- organic beef served medium rare, mixed with red onion, cucumber, lemongrass, mint and chili lime dressing, served on fresh lettuce

Steamed assorted vegetables with Nahm-Prik $7

The nahm prik noom, or spicy eggplant relish, was amazing. I will attempt to recreate this on my own as it is a common Northern Thai dinner staple.

Hot and Sour Tilapia Soup $7- tilapia, shiitake, cherry tomato, scallion, saw cilantro, and cilantro in an herbal broth