At Addie’s Thai House in Chesterfield, the serious eater finds true love | Coffee | Saint-Louis | Saint-Louis News and Events


The serious eater lives in malls and malls. He searches them as diligently as the tousled bearded kid wearing skinny jeans and chunky glasses flips through the dollar record bin at Vintage Vinyl. He might not be able to tell you the color of his wife’s eyes, but he knows the best tamales in town are served in a converted Taco Bell in Overland. Catch him after his third beer, and he’ll strain his ears to the pleasures of jerk chicken and ginger ale in a joint so close to the freeway that a puff of diesel exhaust now elicits a Pavlovian response.

There are of course false leads, hours wasted in pursuit of so-called great pho which turned out to be a bowl of dishwater – or, more likely, the ghost of a restaurant, a sterile storefront but for a few dead flies and a faded red sticker proclaiming, “People love us on Yelp!”

In truth, there are a dozen failures for each move. But because this success alone can be as pure and unexpected a pleasure as Addie’s Thai House, the serious eater continues to seek.

Addie is doubly hidden. The mall he calls home is set back from the intersection of Olive Boulevard and Woods Mill Road. Approaching from the east, like I did, you can easily miss it. The restaurant itself is a featureless facade located between a sports bar, beauty salon, and shuttered Korean karaoke lounge. Inside, however, a cocoon of comfort, even elegance, awaits you. The table settings are precise, the design of the plates and bowls attractive, the utensils surprisingly heavy in your hand. The decor is conventional – yes, there are photographs of the royal family of Thailand – but not at all garish.

Red curry, green curry, pad thai: the menus of Thai restaurants in Saint-Louis are generally inspired by the same model. There’s very little specialization or regional variation that you’ll find in, say, Los Angeles. In my younger and more vulnerable years – like 2009 – this annoyed me endlessly. Lately, however, I’ve come to accept that bitching is no good. Better to seek and celebrate this is different and exciting.

So: Consider starting your meal with “Addie’s Fresh Rolls”. These are something like spring rolls, although tastier and much bigger. (There are two per order, although one may be enough for two diners to share.) Tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber, green onion, and fried egg pieces are wrapped in rice paper, steamed then covered with tamarind sauce.

In fact, a better comparison than a spring roll might be a traditional one. futo maki handmade roll of a sushi restaurant. You have the contrasting textures of soft tofu and crunchy egg and veg, while the thick sauce gives the dish a slight sweetness, tempered by the natural sour notes of tamarind.

To say gang kua ped yang is a red curry with duck to put it mildly. This is the best Thai curry I’ve eaten in St. Louis, probably the best Thai dish I’ve had here and possibly the best duck dish, period. The menu translates the dish as “roast duck curry” but then describes it as “sautéed” boneless duck breast. If I had to guess, I would bet the duck was sautéed and then finished in the oven. The crisp mahogany skin certainly suggested time spent in a hot sauté pan. Remarkably, even though the duck was cut into half a dozen pieces and served (with tomato, red pepper, and pineapple) with at least part of each piece submerged in the curry, the skin retained. its crisp.

The duck was perfectly cooked, with just enough melted fat to give the meat more flavor without losing its succulent character. Like all good curries, this red curry was too complex to identify a single ingredient; its initial brightness gave way to a good balance between salty and sweet and a lingering heat generated by the chili. Even at four stars on a four-star spiciness scale, the heat didn’t obscure the subtle seasoning and provided much needed counterbalance to the sweetness of the coconut milk and pineapple.

Gang kua ped yang is one of the few “House Specialty” dishes at Addie’s Thai House. Another is the soft shell crab with broccoli, carrots and onions in a garlic and pepper sauce. The crab is lightly breaded and then sautéed. The exterior has a good crunch and adds volume to fine meat. The crab itself is sweet and a bit salty. The sauce has an aggressive flavor, more black pepper than garlic, and is quite salty. Although not at all spicy in the conventional sense, it is an intensely fragrant dish.

If your tastes are more conventional, I can recommend the red curry and the green curry. (Sorry pad thai lovers: I’m not one of you and haven’t tried it here.) Although you probably don’t want to go back to regular red curry after trying the gang kua ped yang. The green curry is exceptional, its flavor more green than the red, its spicy heat a more assertive touch. It comes with your choice of protein (chicken, beef, pork or shrimp), along with bamboo shoots, eggplant, green pepper and Thai basil. Eggplant is substantial enough in body and flavor that you don’t even need this protein. I ordered mine with prawns, which were medium in size but plump and, like the duck, perfectly cooked, barely opaque and buttery sweet.

There is much, much more on the menu that I want to try. Yet even these few dishes made the research interesting. And you don’t have to search at all. The address is right in front of you.

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