“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
— James Beard
Taste of Thai
A while ago a friend mentioned that he had enjoyed lunch at Taste of Thai, the restaurant at 1160 Broadway in Placerville. Then I received a call from another friend at the newspaper who said the owner, Minnie, wanted me to come by.
About a week ago I stopped in at lunchtime and introduced myself to the delightful Minnie. She showed me around and I was amazed how beautiful and clean the place is, with gorgeous decorations from Thailand and a nice open feeling.
If you are asking, no, Minnie is not her real name, but as her Thai nickname was Maam, when anyone called her that, all the women in the restaurant looked to see if someone was calling them. As a result the employees decided to call her Minnie and she seems happy with that.
Minnie started cooking at her mother’s side when she was 7. “I would cook food and take it to the market to sell,” she said. “I would sell out first, so I knew my food was good.
“I have an aunt who owns a Thai restaurant in Portland, Ore. She brought me to the United States. I worked for her for six years and later worked for an uncle at his Taste of Thai restaurant in Grass Valley. Then he and I opened this one in Placerville. Now, with help from my mother in Thailand, I have this place.
“In addition to all my other experience running restaurants, I have 10 years as a Thai chef. I check everything that leaves the kitchen to make sure it is the best it can be.
“People think that Thai food is very hot and spicy. It doesn’t have to be. We can make it any way you want it, mild, medium, hot or Thai hot. And if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients, such as peanuts, just let us know. Thai food is delicious and healthy, and we pride ourselves in making each dish just for you and a work of art. I have the recipes from both my aunt and uncle, so we can make a lot of wonderful dishes.”
Minnie brought me samples of several dishes to try: Tod Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes served with a sweet and sour sauce made with cucumbers — peanuts optional); pad prik khing (vegetarian or with meat, with chili paste, kaffir leaves, bell peppers and green beans); gaeng ka ree (vegetarian or meat with yellow curry, potatoes, carrots, onions and bell peppers); po pia tod (fried spring rolls which are also available not fried); a very fresh seafood medley of shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels; and, of course, pad Thai (rice noodles, with egg, chicken, shrimp, fried tofu, green onions and bean sprouts — peanuts optional). She also brought me a Thai iced tea and a Thai iced coffee to try. The tea was wonderful. The coffee was good, too, but I really liked the tea better. It went well with the food.
The fish cakes had a surprisingly heavy texture, because they are made by hand. They tasted good, especially with the cucumber sauce, but had more of a chew than expected. “People like them or don’t like them,” said Minnie. I liked them.
Everything really was wonderful and beautifully served. Of course, I like Asian food.
While I was tasting everything, Minnie entertained me by teaching me a bit of Thai history and menu language. pad means stir fried, gaeng means curry, yum means salad, and so on. Also, Siam, the former name for Thailand, means, in her words, “Up Smile.” “That is because the people of Thailand are very friendly, happy and gracious,” she added.
The very large menu includes appetizers, chef’s specials, soups, salads, stir fries, curries, noodles, fish and seafood and more. And, there is a special section of the menu listing a large number of weekday lunch specials. Beer and wine are available.
You will notice on the menu that there are a number of similarities between Thai and Indian food. They use a lot of the same spices, curries and other fresh ingredients. But they are different.
Taste of Thai is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Friday through Sunday, until 9:30 p.m. They also have a special area for groups and can create a buffet for 20 or more.
For more information call 530-621-9509 or just drop in for some delightfully different food to eat in or take out.