Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tamarind Thai Restaurant

It was yet another gorgeous night to be in San Diego, and I had all but given up hopes of finding a decent eatery to go to that was close to the home office. We had almost forgotten about this little place tucked in a very nondescript strip mall in East County. It has been awhile since we ate here. In East County you have tons of bad Asian restaurants, granted of course there are always the exceptions. It was on a Thursday night we entered Tamarind to find a packed house. This was nice to see as a busy place usually equals good food.

We ordered appetizers. First up Tod Mun ($5.95) This is deep fried fish paste mixed with curry paste and green beans served with sweet chili cucumber sauce with chopped peanuts. It had a very delicate fish flavor and not overpowering. the curry influence was light, but had a very deep flavor to it. The chili sauce that came with it I was surprised to see that it was more sweet than hot. But it all worked together. a nice balancing act of various tastes and textures. One of the reasons why I just love Asian cuisine is that time honored and learned spice balancing act that makes or breaks a good restaurant.

We also ordered up a batch of the Thai Spring Rolls ($5.45). Deep fried rice paper stuffed with shredded cabbage,glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, Ground shrimp and chicken served with a plum sauce.These came out just scorching hot and we had to wait a few minutes for them to cool off a bit. And when they did they were excellent and again well balanced with the sweetness of the plum sauce.
Nice and crunchy on the outside and filled with ground shrimp and chicken. So far the evening was progressing culinarily awesome. Especially having gone to what seemed to be 100 bad places to eat. I was happy again. I really hate giving bad reviews and thought very hard on not doing them at all. But in the end I figured that I had paid good money at these places and had a fair expectation of receiving good product and experience in return. I am a passionate eater. And we as consumers should expect the same from an independent food establishment.

The Pineapple Fried Rice ($8.50) looked just picture perfect on the plate. I apologize for the photo. We are still working an that.It had loads of crunchy extra large cashews and chunks of fresh pineapple. All stir fried together with Thai Jasmine rice, onions both green and white, curry powder, peas and carrots. This had such a wonderful smoky curry mild heat to it and once again the balancing came through with the Sweetness of the slightly caramelized pineapple melding with the heat of the yellow curry.

The Lettuce Wraps ($7.95) were next. The filling consisted of chopped chicken, potatoes, carrots,onions and green onions in a slightly sweet Thai soy base. With plenty of pieces of fresh lettuce. Not a lot of heat but then again that was exactly what Taylor was looking for.
A small bowl of a tamarind infused soy sauce came with this dish and made the dish complete.

The Nam Tog ($9.95) from the Yum side of the menu (Spicy salads Thai style) Was done very well and again looked picture perfect like the rest of the dishes. It had loads of fresh mint and grilled beef mixed with a slightly below medium heat from the spicy chili sauce and a large dash of fresh lime juice. also with ground toasted rice, sliced green onion and cilantro. My nose is starting to run just writing about this dish.
You can see all of the little pieces of spice and ground rice and herbs in this close up.
The one that really had the flavor balancing act together was the Peanut Sauce with Steamed Veggies ($8.50) We added the grilled chicken to this dish as you have a choice of Beef, Chicken, Pork, Calamari, Shrimp or Duck as addons. The peanut sauce was very well done. Not to sweet and not to thick. It went together so well with this dish. It covered the veggies and chicken perfectly. had a slight kick of heat to it that just made it a little mysterious in a foody kind of way. Very nice. We had finally found a decent meal in East County! The sauce melded nicely with the crispness of the broccoli and carrots, Green beans and onions.
The meal was a great success. The quality of the food and service here is very good. The only thing is, I believe that the place is a bit on the pricey side. Better can be had for less. But not in the East County. Overall We will return again and again. The only dish we had that seemed to be not on a par with the rest of the meal was dessert. we ordered the Fried Banana ($4.95)
It didn't work to well. Although it was covered in a orange spiced honey, it just was a mushy and tasteless slab of fried stuff. The menu said it was rolled in coconut and then fried. Definitely not coconut but what seemed to be some sort of thick tempura batter.

Tamarind Thai Restaurant
7970 University Ave
La Mesa

Open 7 days a week.



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