Thursday, June 7, 2007

Goldilocks & the Tom Ka Soup

Okay, so I had a big learning experience over the past couple weeks. As most of you know one of my absolute favorite foods is Tom Ka Chicken Soup. Well, I dicovered that all soupss are not created equal!
How did my obsession with this soup begin? It's totally Katrina's fault!! We agreed to meet for Thai food one afternoon. I love Thai food! Although, Thai food at that time to me simply meant Garlic Prawns or Asparagus Special! It was the only two items I ever ate. So when the server handed me a menu I quickly placed it back down, never even glancing at it.
Katrina asked, You already know what you want?!
Yep, Garlic Prawns. It's all I ever order here.
Sounds good, and how about we share some Tom Ka Chicken Soup as well?
Some what?!
This soup is sooooo good; you have to try it!
Reluctantly, I agreed; fully expecting to not like it, but knowing my Garlic Prawns would wash down the first couple polite samplings. Well, imagine my surprise when I tasted it and it really was good. Then I watch in amazement as Katrina dumped a spoonful of steamed rice into her bowl.
What are you doing?!
I love it this way, she insisted.
Yeah, whatever!
Try it, she prodded.
So I obliged. Yummmmm-o!!! It turns a great tasting soup into a full meal! I was hooked! I asked when we could return and have more! An addict was born!

So we have continued our traditional soup lunch for quite some time now. Along the way I have introduced the soup to many others. And yet, my addiction was not being fulfilled often enough. I needed more. I needed a new supplier. One closer to home; more easily accessible. So began the experimenting process. I would stop in to different Thai restaurants closer to home, declining a menu and stating I was ready to order. I began to feel a little like Goldilocks sampling each bowl looking for another as good as the first! Restaurant A (where my addiction was fueled) made the soup perfectly to my liking!

Restaurant B's soup, I discovered, tasted a bit more fishy. It was okay, but it didn't take the place of the first. It just left me wanting to return to restaurant A.
So I ventured on to restaurant C. My soup and rice arrived at my table looking very odd; less colorful. And tasting much more bland than I was used to. Something was just not right. It was very disappointing. Although with the abundant inclusion of mushrooms, not a absolute, total loss. Next!
Restaurant D's soup arrived looking a lot like C's. Rather blah. However, it did have a bit more flavor than C's. Unfortunately, still nothing as delicious as restaurant A's. So I decided to be bold. I explained to the waitress my dilemma. Having ordered the same soup in four restaurants and twice having it prepared one way and the other two times like this. Why was there such a difference? She so nicely explained that the first two restaurants were probably making a combination soup, for lack of a better term. Some chefs do that she pointed out. It is created like traditional Tom Ka (coconut milk based) but Chili sauce added to give it a hot & sour edge. She added that they would be happy to include the sauce for me next time if I requested it. YEA!!! Mystery solved!!

So now for all of you out there that may have tried it and not liked it, maybe you were served the more traditional style as well. You've got to try the combination style!

I'm on my way to have lunch at restaurant E today, with my new knowledge in hand, so we'll see how they fare....the journey continues!

So the moral of the story is....Goldilocks likes soup A best!! It's perfect! And sometimes you just can't re-create perfection!

Update: Restaurant E was great! While the slices of (what we suspect to be) ginger and lemongrass swimming around in my soup was not my favorite, the flavor was great and the inclusion of mushroom appreciated! Overall a good runner up to D-Thai (aka: Restaurant A).

enjoy the journey!

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