Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Salween Thai

1102 NW Radial Highway
Open Mon – Sat, 11am – 9pm, closed Sun

Rad Nat with chicken ($6.95):
The menu said it had gravy, so naturally I had to get it.
The gelatinous, spicy sauce jiggled delightfully from the plate to my face.

It could be the exotic sounding name. Other Thai restaurants in town like Bangkok Cuisine and Thai Spice play it dismally safe in that department. I'd venture to say that nestling itself an arm's reach from both Benson and Dundee doesn't hurt, either. Or maybe it's that the parking lot is so challenging to get to from the northbound lane of Saddle Creek, that simply surviving the fight to get there feels like you've earned the right to partake in a rewarding indulgence.

All of those things, and also that the food is usually pretty great, make up the reasons why 30 minutes before closing on a recent Monday night, every single table in the place was occupied — with a high percentage of cool-looking people, nonetheless.

Boat rice noodle soup with pork ($6.95):
Rice noodles, meatballs and sliced meat, bean sprouts, cilantro,
and gailan (I think that's like Chinese broccoli).
Flavorful and warming, just like its better-known counterpart, a bowl of pho.

You won't find neatly trimmed, lean meats, or too much universally boring brown sauce. I like to think Salween is one of the portals to true ethnic cuisine in Omaha, though I've never been to Thailand — or even befriended any Thai people, for that matter. I probably couldn't pick the place out on a map (kidding). Point is, I can't masquerade as an expert. But I do know that the adjacent specialty grocery store, where many of the restaurant's ingredients are most likely cultivated, intensifies the legitimacy of the whole place.

Spring rolls were filled to the brim with snappy veggies
and an occasional shrimp.
Curious upright presentation was a bonus.

Dipped in spicy orange sauce this is a refreshing way to start the meal.
Fixin's for the noodle soup in the background.

In lieu of describing this particular meal in detail, since so many of us have already been here a bunch, here's my lowdown: all of the curries are fantastic, most likely the best in town. Last fall, a disappointing, gross experience involving overly mushy, coagulated noodles on the Pad See Yew nearly cost the restaurant a lifetime of my valuable patronage. But now I'm back, and I'm ordering the Rad Nat, courageously staring any sort of jelly-like texture right in the face. I'm slurping on my dining buddy's noodle soup, complete with the "teaspoon of blood" as dictated on the menu, and I'm chomping on a round of girthy spring rolls wrapped in extra sticky rice paper. It's an adventure in spices and textures, people. And surely, you're up for the ride.

All of that said, don't go here to dine in if you're in a hurry. Just don't. And don't mind the fact that the single-room, open floor plan makes you feel like you're in some sort of weird cafeteria/living room hybrid. If you want a giant Buddha fountain (all Eastern religious figures are Buddha to me) to distract you while you eat, go to Brooklyn.

Thai tea provides a little cool-off so you can properly handle a proper spice level 9.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Good Day Sacramento

Today I think I did a decent job pretending I give a hoot about football in favor of pimping our city out on oh-so-exotic Californian network TV. Thanks to Good Day Sacramento for caring and to Peyton Manning, whoever that is.