Word has it that this was the hottest, meanest, realest most Thai-ist place in town, and that if we really needed to whet our Siamese whistle, this was the place. And yes, a papaya salad did the trick. When asked how hot, I said very.
The other day, we were debating the perfect vehicle for Arthur Bryant's BBQ sauce. Well, is there no more perfect vehicle for raw scoville power than papaya salad? This papaya salad looked normal. Only when you looked really close, camaflouged with the green peppers, could you find one of the sources of the heat, dried green chilis. The dish was one of crunch and tart and sugar and waves of heat. In fact later in the evening, when we had eaten our fill, I sat, with my head slightly cocked, in a capsacum stupor.
The rest of the dishes varied. The other great dish was a catfish, lauded on the menu as featuring a chili sauce and hot chili's. Who could resist such a combo. It reminded me very much of something we might eat at the famed Las Vegan Lotus of Siam. It was a whole catfish fillet, fried first and then drowned in a sauce of sugar, fish sauce, and chil and then further garnished with fresh chilis. The multiple varieties of chili were the give away. Ms. VI, on a careful kick, did not appreciate its initial bath in the fyer and mostly demurred. I had to finish the dish, however, as I knew it would not stay well. I really did not mind.
The rest of the stuff paled. A chinese brocoli in oyster sauce, like many versions at Thai places, suffered from being watery, although the vegetable themselves were of good flavor. A chicken in garlic/pepper sauce suffered from not enough sauce and suffered even more from some awfully tough chicken breast strips. My least favorite dish was the mee krob. This Thai version of cotton candy lacked the layers of flavors that belie this collection of sticky noodles. Just sweet, no spice, no hidden bit of ketchup (for Dave), no balance. Plus, no goodies like eggs or tofu to vary the palate. After a few tastes it was dull. Even the chowhounditas passed.
I do not know if I would run to the corner of Addison and Milwaukee too often just for a killer papaya salad, but I could see if I was on my way somewhere else.