The Incredible Adventures of Gourmet Gal

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


251 WEST 51 ST.

I should have known better. Any place that bills itself as “Thai Pan-Asian & Sushi Bar” is simply going through some intense identity crisis, or taking advantage of affirmative action to charge more for its supposedly exotic food.

I have no idea what propelled me to try this place with my gastronomic soul mate/ best friend L this weekend. Perhaps it was the gloomy weather, perhaps it was the ABBA overdose (they play it ALL DAY at my job!), I suggested that we have dinner there. L is my favorite person to eat with in the whole entire world. We share the same exact view on food (the two big Qs: quality + quantity), and almost always have a smashingly bedazzled fabulous girly time together, devouring and gossiping. But this time, we both got the horrible blue chill from the Blue Chili.

The place was decorated in a futuristic all-white design with half a dozen good-looking tender-aged Asian waiters/waitresses in black uniforms, resembling the set of a Hong Kong romantic comedy flick. Half way into reading the menu, L’s face turned horribly green.

“Are you okay?” She stared back at me with equally concerned face.

“I was just about to ask you the same thing. What’s up with the blue face?”

As if on cue, we looked up at the ceiling and realized that the recess light was rotating rainbow spectrum colors every five minutes. I was relieved that none of us were mysteriously sick but utterly annoyed by the nausea-evoking effect. Everything on the menu read pricey and a bit on the pretentious side. L was not super hungry and fancied the lobster salad. “I want to know how big is the salad.” The sleek waiter answered the question with a simulated smile and mimed his hands into a 9 inch plate. “Big.”

“Is it enough for an entry?” L wanted to be absolutely sure. See, I told you we were soul mates. “Yes, enough.” He glanced at my voluptuous friend up and down and proclaimed confidently, “For you.” With that confirmed, we decided quickly.

PEKING DUCK ROLL (roasted duck, cucumber, scallion and mandarin pancake)
SPICY LOBSTER SALAD (fried lobster, mixed seasonal fruit, baby green salad and chili cream dressing)
DUCK TAMARIND SAUCE (boneless half duck served on grilled eggplant topped with tamarind sauce)

L’s “Tiki” turned out to be a pleasantly fruity raspberry puree cocktail. However her Peking duck roll was less desirable. It tasted stale and totally not worth $8. No offense, BUT THE DINGY LITTLE SNACK SHACK BY MY MOM’S APARTMENT MAKES BETTER DUCK ROLLS THAN THIS PLACE! We had more fun poking at the garlic chive bud, which was meant to be a decoration on the plate than eating the roll.

My “Duck Tamarind Sauce” came in a gianormous shallow bowl. I love huge plates. And this is the kind I fantasized about using if I were to cook an entire piglet. Two pieces of duck breasts and one duck leg looked promisingly enticing in the glistening brown sauce. I took an eager bite. Hum. The tamarind sauce had just the right balance of sweet, sour and savory. Another bite. Ooh, ah. The duck was tough and greasily fatty. You see, this is when someone (I’m not a scientist, but I think in this case, it would be...THE CHEF!) had to make a decision on things. As we say in Chinese, “it’s shady to put your left foot on one boat and the right foot on another.” CHOOSE! Either make the duck melt-in-your mouth medium rare OR corruptly falling-of-the bone decadent. Leaving your patron in the sphere of limbo by cooking the meat into a leathery bloody mess is NEVER a good idea! I moved the duck aside and found something crispy on the bottom of the plate. Apparently the “grilled eggplant” described in the dish meant fried dough similar to the free crispy noodles they give out at Chinese restaurants as appetizers. WHAT THE HELL?! L sampled the dish and simply announced, “Hum.”

Both of our jaws dropped onto the floor when L’s lobster salad arrived. The neo orange cubes of lobster nestled uncomfortably in a square whiskey glass, crowded with a fake banana leaf, and once again, garlic chive bud as decorations. WHERE THE *&^% IS THE SALAD?! The slick waiter pointed to the two pieces of mal-nutritional endive leafs, while bringing on a pile of pyramid shaped rice in a small dipping sauce for me.

“Spei-cia lice.” He did two perfect flicks of the eyebrow.

I wondered if he faked the accent to legitimize the authenticity of the special rice. L tasted her lobster salad and wiped her mouth politely. I sampled it and thought about my favorite episode of “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare”. In one segment, Ramsey stuffed a forkful of food into his mouth and promptly spit it out. He then folded it into his napkin and handed it to the horrified cute blonde waitress with a tempted pat on the bum. “Sweet heart, fetch me the chef and, throw this garbage into the plant for me, will ya?”

I had zero desire of touching any part of that robotic waiter’s bony ass, but I did fantasized about the other part. IT WAS BOILED LOBSTER CHUNKS IN MAYONAISE AND HOT SAUCE! L desperately chewed on the endive leaf for her daily vegetable intakes. “What made him think that this is big enough for an entry?” We caught sight of the next table of three hollow-eyed flamingo looking bitches sipping their Avian and realized why. He was probably used to pathetic girls who don’t eat! I offered the three colored rice (white, yellow, with specs of black) to L and took a forkful myself. Quite tasty! We gobbled down the rest of the two bites in despair.

Maybe the desserts were good, I held on to that last glimpse of light. We decided to share one just in case.


While waiting for the dessert, L went to the ladies room. The waiter ran over here to refold her napkin as soon as she left the table. This act of bull shit only enraged me more. DUDE! THIS AIN’T NO DAVID BLAINE SHOW! FOCUS ON THE FOOD! WE CAN FOLD OUR OWN FRIGGIN’ NAKINS!!

L returned to the table looking somewhat refreshed. Our order of decaf coffee came in short see-through glasses with handles. The color of the coffee was even lighter than amber. We looked at each other’s green faces and promptly busted into laughter even before the waiter left. I knew it was bad behavior but, COME ON! How can you mix hot water with regular coffee and call it decaf?! The ridiculous drink tasted like lukewarm dirt water. “AND IT CAME IN A SEE-THROUGH GLASS WITH HANDLE!” L was having a very hard time letting go of the trauma.

The three mini crème brulees arrived in a long triangular white plate dusted with powdered sugar and one blueberry, one black berry, and half of a strawberry. It had more of the appearance of a science project than a dessert. I cracked the surface of the green tea flavored one, while L tackled on the coffee one. Alright. We both moved on to the vanilla. Capable. Overall, all three had the corrected tang to them. (Green tea tasted like green tea, vanilla tasted like vanilla, etc.) But that was about it, clinical, impersonal. No cuddling afterwards nor kisses the next morning. Just a cold, unaffectionate, lousy fuck.

We felt the place feeling lonely, used, and cheated out of the experience.


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