Friday, November 18, 2016

That Thai Surprise, Baby

“Did she just call me baby?”

That had to be the quote of the night.

This was from a man who has been on assignment in Afghanistan, crawled through the underground tunnels of Saigon and has been in the aftermath of probably every natural disaster imaginable. And here he was with me in an itty bitty Thai restaurant in Chula Vista totally stunned by this older hostess who'd just called him baby.

“What can I get you, baby? The orange chicken? Okay, baby!”

I was enjoying every second of this awkwardness.

That's the thing. This was Nikki's restaurant. This was her world. We were just living in it.
This unique exchange pulled me out of work mode. It’s not every day people surprise and draw me in.

You know what, though? Her food had the same effect. What a surprise. What a GEM!
I got number #13 the Yum Woon Sen with chicken. Clear glass noodles seasoned with sour Thai herbs, carrots, red onion, green onion, celery, tomato and cilantro.

My photographer got the orange a Thai restaurant. Yeah, we're going to ignore that, but I'll post a picture anyway.

"What level hot you like, baby?" she asked me. Okay now she's calling me baby. How cute.

"Um, 5 please."

"No, no? Do you want to die!? My 5 is too spicy for you. You like spicy? Yeah? Okay, 1."

What the heck? 1? I told her I liked spicy. Why would you even have a spicy scale if your spicy is 1?! 

Whatever. I'll get a spicy level 1. Lame. Then I started to look at the signage around the restaurant.  They told me to "Believe her!" Believe/don't believe mommy.

There was some weird Oedipal business going on here. I'm going to call her Nikki.

Now back to my Yum Woon Sen. The flavor was outstanding. You can tell there were no flavor enhancers. No substitutes. She didn't cut corners. Nikki used real ingredients.

She came over again to tell me she drives to a Los Angeles market every Sunday to do all her shopping. She gets produce, noodles, meats and other ingredients unique to Thai cuisine that, she says, she can't find here in San Diego.

She pointed to the trifecta of hot sauces in front of me exclaiming, "I make that and that and that!" Thumbs up, Nikki! (or whatever you're doing there with your hand).
Man, sometimes I wish I was a cow so I had four stomachs and could eat more. I want to be able to write about other dishes here, but I'm human. No number of burpees can excuse me ordering four dishes for myself. I'm not saying I haven't done it. Just wasn't appropriate and I may or may not have lied to the hostess saying "Yeah, yeah this is for my family. No this is not all just for me. That would be crazy..."

Anyway, back to the daily grind. What an incredible find in the middle of Chula Vista.

P.S. My photographer said the orange chicken here was very good.

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