The Gossiping Gourmet: Silk Thai a smooth dining experience

August 26, 2010|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • The Tod Man Pla, a fried fish cake served with a sweet chili sauce at Silk Thai Cuisine in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
The Tod Man Pla, a fried fish cake served with a sweet chili… (Scott Smeltzer,…)

There are quite a few Thai restaurants in the Huntington Beach area, but Silk Thai Cuisine is an excellent one in the Newland Center, a charming little strip mall on Beach Boulevard north of Adams Avenue.

Normally, "charming strip mall" would be an oxymoron, but this one is set back from the boulevard and features brick sidewalks, pleasant architecture, tall palm trees and inviting outdoor tables. There, in a mini-restaurant row, Thai Silk is a clean and pleasant family-run restaurant (using no MSG or trans-fats) with food from all four culinary regions of Thailand: North, Northeast (Issan), South and Central. Central dominates here, as it does in most restaurants.

If you've never tried Thai food, you might be surprised to know that it isn't served with chopsticks but with a fork and spoon. The fork is supposed to be used to push food onto the spoon. This Westernized tradition began with King Mongkut, Rama IV, (immortalized in the musical "The King And I"), who reigned from 1851 to 1868 and was taught to eat Western style by an American missionary.


Improperly employing our forks, we dived into a green mango salad, a variant on the well-known Issan green papaya salad. Thin shreds of crunchy, unripe mango were combined with red and green onions, cabbage, basil and cilantro in a sour lime dressing with a just a hint of sweetness and a touch of fish sauce for depth and saltiness. It was nice way to start the meal — crisp and refreshing.

Tod Man Pla is a patty made from ground fish and a few chopped green beans, seasoned with chili paste and kaffir lime leaves and bound with a bit of egg. The thin rounds are deep fried without any type of coating. If you are not a fish fancier, you will probably like these anyway since they have no discernable fish flavor.

Although they looked a bit greasy, the oil they were cooked in was so fresh that they had no greasy taste at all and were quite delicious. They were served with a classic sweet chili sauce with chopped cucumber and roasted peanuts, which made them even better as the fish cakes and the sauce married perfectly.

When we ordered our entrées, our waitress asked us how hot we wanted to go on a scale of 1 to 10. She said that a feature of the restaurant is spicing the food to your taste. If you aren't sure, ask for a low number and request the condiment tray that includes crushed dried chilies, green chilies in rice vinegar, fish sauce and fresh ground chili paste.

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