After arriving in Thailand in the middle of night and sleeping until lunchtime, L and I took our hotel up on its recommendation and headed to a nearby restaurant off Silom Road called Ta Ping Ling. The tastefully-decorated interior was matched by the quality of the meal, which we both later agreed was the best of the trip. We ordered a steamed eggplant salad, green curry with fish, and pad thai. The eggplant salad was tart and sweet — fish sauce, red onions, garlic, and chilis provided bite against the mellowness of the eggplant, with a combination of dried pork shreds and minced pork adding a touch of meatiness to the mixture. Twas wonderfully light and flavorful and really makes me wonder how in America a plate of tasteless iceberg lettuce dressed with a neon-colored, gel-like substance passes for a salad.
The green curry was the standout of the meal for me. I find that most curries suffer from a lack of balance in flavor, but this one hit upon a sophisticated, harmonious interplay between the coconut milk, chili, herbs, and spices.
I think I will always have a soft spot for the pad thai from Thai Garden in Williamstown, but this version was the real deal. Springy noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and bursting shrimp tossed in a light peanut and fish sauce sauce (not peanut butter, not ketchup), topped with spoonful or two of chilis in vinegar, and you have yourself a plate of reliably good, real food.