Ok here's a puzzle for you Chowhounds:
Like many I have a curry that haunts my soul.
It's made by a little Hmong woman in a hole in the wall in Detroit MI.
In Detroit this dish is called Pad Ped, and it's on the menu a couple of other places around town in a similar form. When I've had "Pad Ped" outside of Detroit, it definitely wasn't the same.
This curry is a red curry with meat, bell pepper, onion, bamboo shoots, and soft and smoky slices of briefly wok-fried eggplant. It has almost no coconut flavor. Sometimes I think I might taste crab paste. Mostly, it has this great smoky flavor to the point that I think it might have some kind of Thai paprika / smoked chili powder or even some liquid smoke added. I am doubtful that this flavor could come just from the addition of smoky eggplant. This dish is made in a flash in an extremely hot wok. There is definitely the flavor of "wok hei".
So, food sleuths, what am I talking about, and can I find anything similar around the Bay Area?