I'm talking specifically about Thai food here. Went to Thai Spoon a couple of weekends ago, apparently just after their four fork review since they were packed around 3:00 pm. Asked for the recommended Thai Fried Chicken. My communication skills failed me and I was advise that they didn't have it. I blew it, I should have had the partially translated menu with me so that I could have pointed to it in Thai! Strike one! Ended up ordering the Catfish Salad and Larb. Both I specifically asked to have very spicy. They were not very spicy at all. No sweat on the forehead, nothing. Tasty nevertheless. Strikes 2 & 3. I was out and felt that I was robbed of my preferred dish and those special Thai spices.
Went to Cafe Nhu Hoa yesterday for a late lunch. I wanted to try a couple of recommended items off the Laos portion of the menu. I ordered two salads, the Beef Larb and the Papaya. The waitress who spoke pretty good English asked before I could say it, "Do you want it spicy?" I responded quickly with a "yes, very spicy please". In short time, I received both of these very visually attractive salads. You guessed it, neither has much fire at all! Good though.
What the heck is going on here? Are there different code words for different Thai places. Should I always inquire about a secret Thai menu or should I always try to speak to the owner? Can they take the dish back and spice it up more or does that ruin the dish? I know this has been raised a number of times and maybe there is no single correct answer. It was my first visit to each of these restaurants and maybe they just need get familiar with a customer before they trust/believe his or her specific requests...maybe.
Hey, I just want to get what I ask for and how I ask for it without fear or concern. As for my immediate solution, I'm going to Thai Aree this Saturday for some much needed burn. This will be only my second visit, but they got it right the first time!