Let me start by saying this is not an attempt to instigate another Wondee vs. Sripraphai debate. Having not been to Wondee in over 6 months, I was curious to see if my recollections about that food were rose-colored or true.
Sat down to order my usual Kang Dang with chicken, when I noticed that one of the specials was using crispy pork. Inspiration struck and I asked if they could replace the chicken in my Kang Dang with the pork. After a brief trip to the kitchen to ask the cook if this was ok, she came back and informed me we were good to go. Liking very spicy food, I requested it be cooked to a Thai level of spiciness, and prepared myself. (A brief note here: Being white, I feel I often receive the "dumbed down" version of ethnic cuisines, especially when they spicy/weird/etc. Even at Wondee, I have had varied experiences with what the cooks will provide as Thai spicy.)
Out arrived my bowl, brimming with the steaming bamboo shoots, crispy pork, and these small quartered round squash like veggies (what were these tasty things?!?!), surrounded by a golden red liquid flecked with chilies and basil. Remember in your high school chemistry class when the teacher always told you to waft the smell of an experiment towards you to avoid injury. Sound advice. I leaned over, putting my face squarely over the bowl, and inhaled deeply. What an aroma, and then, the feeling of chili traveling up my nose. This was definitely a good thing!
I tucked in. Each bite was a monument to Thai cuisine. Fiery hot so that my nose was running and my forehead beaded with sweat immediately, yet unbelievably flavorful. The soft, fatty pork was an excellent compliment to the crunchy bamboo shots. Texture and flavor, what else do you need? I would not call myself an expert on the authenticity of Wondee, but the power of a cuisine is something I can comment on. I still haven't found one of my socks...