I don’t like Indian and Thai food.
BORING ! – Chicken Tiki Masa, red, yellow green curries. pad thai, papaya salad, etc, etc
And the thing is, most of these dishes aren’t very good in the first place. How did they get so popular? It’s like the old days in Chinese cuisines where with two you get egg roll and sweet and sour pork.
Someone recently wrote about a sublime green curry, but you have to eat a lot of mediocre green curry to get there.
I’m sort of having fun right now looking for items on the menu that I don’t see elsewhere.
Most of the time, that is the dish that is the best thing at that restaurant. However, even the spectacular failures ... and I’m talking about the memorably horrible Nicaraguan boho ... are interesting, sometimes funny and entertaining... and at the least give you something to kvetch about. I've gotten years of mileage out of that dish.
Ironically at the same place and same dinner, I had one of the most memorably great tastes in my life, pitahaya, a mind-blowing tasty and beautiful ruby-colored drink made from dragon fruit.
Most of the time ethnic food isn’t that expensive, so if it is a taste disaster, order something else.
I regret all the years I spent order broccoli beef in Chinese restaurants when after I started following Chowhound I found there were so many wonderful and amazing Chinese foods.
And if the lesser known stuff doesn’t get ordered, the restaurant has no reason to expand. The interesting stuff gets cut.
There’s a great Chinese restaurant near me, Lily’s, that is struggling to stay alive because everyone orders the same old, same old and rarely bothers with the regional specialties they excel at. In fact the restaurant doesn't push these dishes because they think no one wants them.
And by ethnic, I’m including everything that isn’t burgers and steak. How much lasagna and coq au vin can one eat anyway?
However, when I’m eating my own cuisine, Polish, I do stick with the comfort dishes for me like pierogi. When I’m brand new to a cuisine, right now that is Bolivian, I’m going to go for the most ordered dishes like, in this case, salteñas, one reason being all of the restaurants in my area ... a whopping two ... have that on the menu and I can compare.
But I seems like a vicious circle ... we order the same things over and over ... the restaurants say ‘aha’ that’s what they want ... we get the same old boring stuff.
So, two questions:
1. What less common dish have you ordered that knocked your socks off ... or was a spectacular failure?
2. If you don’t stray from the tried and true ... why not ... money considerations ... fear of the unknown?