lunch at ban thai.

barney thai--i mean, ban thai 

today we had lunch at ban thai in tumon. it used to be leo's, a casual american-ish café, and before that, the (improbable, odd) swiss chalet, which served swiss, french and austrian food. it's just a renovated warehouse, but you can still see the alpine yodel-ay-hee-hoo influence under all that barney-rrific paint (thankfully, the pink volkswagen bug that was crashed into the side of it during the leo's days is gone). anyway, we wanted something kind of asian, kind of cheap, and really wanted their fried banana fritters (even though we already know they only come out on wednesday and friday, we thought the banana fairy might be kind).

today the restaurant was less than half full, which i've never seen before--it's usually packed. i don't really go to any other thai places on island (sheer laziness and i don't often crave it), so i can't compare it. the food is decent most days, but quite good when it's not so rushed, like today. i think its location, general cleanliness, affability of staff, and palatability make it popular. and the lunch buffet is still only $7.95, despite the whole is it 4% or 6%? GRT thing and the rising cost of everything on island. another thing i'm not sure of--since i'm not well-versed in thai cuisine and haven't been to thailand--is whether or not the food here is spicier than it should be. i know the thai food on the mainland is far milder...should it be? has it been toned down for american tastes or is it het up for island-style?

anyway, the buffet had the standard offerings of fried spring rolls,tom yum, green and red curries, stir fried veggies, and pad thai. the only new offering today was a remarkably fresh spring roll made with shredded carrots, cucumbers, fried tofu, in a romaine and rice wrapper:

poa pia sod with peanut sauce 

cool, and crunchy, with the rubbery rice wrapper lending a nice chewiness. in an effort to avoid the buffet stuff-and-roll-out-the-door feeling, i stuck to a chicken, mushroom, long bean stir-fry that was lightly seasoned in a ginger lemon grass sauce:

long bean-mushroom-chicken lemongrass thingy 

with a green papaya salad that wasn't exactly a palate cleanser as it was extra spicy. the long beans were extra squeaky, which is always pleasing. of course, there weren't any banana fritters, but there was a coconut milk, sago, and banana stew, that had these funky pinky-red rice balls with a mysterious crunchy center:

thai ginataan 

funky, mysterious, and strangely buttery, but also strangely satisfying.

still want those fritters, though.

ban thai
across from acanta mall


It's been years since you posted this, so you probably already know, but yeah, the mainland Thai places are waaaay turned down for roundeye palates. Real Thais like it *HOT*.