Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I don't usually announce personnel changes on my blog, but I'm sure you'll all be happy to learn that Ped's nephew Shawn and his nieces, Cindy and Tiffany, are now working at True Thai. Having plenty of Phanthavongs around is a good thing.

True Thai: Lao powered since 2002.

That is kind of a joke. Yes, True Thai has always had Lao employees. And Hmong employees and Cambodian and Burmese employees, as well as some actual Thai, myself included. I know some foodies think that makes us less Thai, but I do not think they understand Southeast Asians very well. Having a Lao cook in a Thai restaurant is like finding out there's a Canadian in the kitchen at Perkins.

As the Buddhist teacher Atisha once said, "Do not be jealous of other's good qualities, but out of admiration adopt them yourself."

Yes, there are differences in how Americans and Southeast Asians run restaurants. In Thailand, hiring a new cook — even under tragic circumstances— means new dishes. In America, most restaurants "break" their cooks in, teaching them their recipes.

In Thailand a restaurant owner wants to see what new dishes the new cook brought with them. The owner and the other cooks sample everything and decide which ones should go on the menu. Sometimes there is spontaneous collaboration and a new cook's dish is modified to better complement what is already on the menu, other times it's a quick thumbs up or thumbs down vote. If you can't decide, you tinker with the recipe until you're happy (or not). You like a dish or you don't. Food can be hard to prepare, but it should never be hard to eat.

We recently updated our menu insert to add two new appetizers: crunchy Mini Sesame Balls and chewy Prawn Puffs. Now we need to update it again to make room for a saucy new seafood entree, True Tilapia, a filet of tilapia served with an irresistable sauce.  We're also adding a change of pace (for us) entree: Grilled Lime Chicken. Chicken, sliced lime, red bell pepper, cilantro and a light, slightly sweet sauce. Served with jasmine white rice. It's not like anything else on our menu, so I think this is a good dish to add.

More new dishes coming soon!