If your idea of paradise encompasses Astro Turf, photo booths and game consoles housed in shipping containers, then I have a vacation destination for you.
Hello Paradise, yet another project from Jeret Peña’s Boulevardier group, is a slightly revamped makeover of the old Shuck Shack on Grayson Street, itself the product of fellow serial hospitality entrepreneur Jason Dady. If the new spot seems a bit washed up on the beach – the games, I guess, were salvaged from Still Golden, a nearby bar in Peña demolished last year to make way for downtown development – then know this: Thai food and tropical drinks are anything but wrecks and jetsam.
It could be pandemic emergence syndrome, but I’ve been stunned by little things lately, and the tom yum noodles on the menu are a prime example. Think classic Thai soup, add springy rice noodles, the liveliness of lime, lemongrass and chili flavors, and brackish fish sauce for umami. Add three types of pork in place of the usual soup shrimp, and you have a package that hits all the sparkling notes of Thai cuisine.
The fact that the pork appears in the form of slices, chopped and balls is not only the demonstration of the cooking: the different textures, further enhanced by the crunchiness of the chopped peanuts, add complexity to an already sophisticated dish.
If tom yum noodles exemplify the light and light character of Thai cuisine, then beef boat noodle soup represents its deeper, more contemplative side. I consumed this one more slowly, to better appreciate the warmer spices like star anise and cinnamon, the depth brought by the black soybeans counterbalanced by a perceived touch of sugar, and, yes, the earthy and metallic aspect brought to it. with a touch of bovine blood. Like in tom yum, there are three signature forms of meat, one of which I guess is beef heart. The contrast is provided by what I also imagine to be boiled spinach and a pinch of cilantro. The menu mentioned pork rinds, but they were missing from the dish I had.
Panang and green curries are ubiquitous on local Thai menus, but Hello Paradise’s green curry holds up well in comparison. There’s lots of sliced chicken, lots of small, globular eggplants, and a chewy coconut-based broth topped with green curry paste and Thai basil. Everything is further brightened up by the occasional, contrasting flash and burn of Thai red chili peppers.
Pork dumplings also appear in the restaurant’s snack and small plate category, but in a whole different way: coarsely ground, skillfully seasoned with sesame oil and pepper, coated in tender dumpling wrappers and sprinkled with roasted garlic. The accompanying sauce is black soy with hints of molasses, and the two go together like Ricky and Lucy. However, for me, the syrupy sauce ruins what the menu billed as the “best damn spring rolls.” Nothing wrong with the glass noodle, cabbage, mushroom and carrot filling, and the packaging is exemplary crispy tenderness. Just hold the pancake filling.
Hello Paradise’s Lunch Special # 1 – maybe there will be more in the future? – initially composed of Panang curry, tom yum noodles or Thai wings combined with a single spring roll. With a dearth of wings now, the kitchen has replaced the thighs. “They’re made the same way and there’s more meat, so it’s even better,” the order taker promised.
The Boulevardier boys know how to get by around a cocktail, even if it’s frozen. So if you’ve made peace with the spot’s Astro Turf, you can feel safe ordering an $ 8 melted daiquiri. I liked the one accessorized with spicy cucumber. A more creative Pero No Sé with tequila, mango, lemon, and falernum – an almond-based tiki component – costs $ 10. High Wheel and Roadmap provide two local beers.
If you want to experience Hello Paradise, my recommendation is to go there as the sun approaches, have your drinks of choice and hope that a DJ is present or a movie is shown on the wall. support. That way your suspension of disbelief has a good chance of succeeding.
520 E. Grayson Street | (210) 338-5114 | hellopadisesa.com
Hours: Noon-midnight Sunday-Monday, noon-2 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Main dishes: $ 11 to $ 13
Best bets: Tom yum noodles, boat noodle soup, green curry, pork balls, cocktails
The lean: Jeret Peña’s prolific Boulevardier Group has taken over Jason Dady’s Shuck Shack and transformed the predominantly outdoor venue into Hello Paradise, offering Thai food and tiki-like drinks. The menu includes great deals like stuffed pork dumplings, tom yum noodles, and boat noodle soup. The cocktails are equally successful, with drinks like Pero No Sé with tequila, mango and falernum standing out. Even frozen daiquiris are worth studying.
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