I usually cringe a little when people ask if I am a food critic or restaurant reviewer because, honestly, I believe I am neither. I write a food blog, I tell tales, I share my experiences… I ramble on about what we ate and whether or not I liked it perhaps, but that’s all part of the story of the meal. I don’t claim to be the fountain of any knowledge. I am just a greedy girl who’s always hungry and likes to talk; and because it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full, this is the perfect place for me to do that talking.
There are plenty of other people out there who either are, or claim to be, food critics or restaurant reviewers, so there’s no need for me to join that ever-so-crowded bandwagon. I read a lot of what those people have to say; many because I respect their opinions, some purely because curiosity has got the better of me. However, one thing remains the same regardless of which category they fall into – I always take these reviews with a grain of salt because at the end of the day, it’s just their opinion. And my view is that no one’s word is gospel in this industry, no matter how well regarded they are.
Having never graced Thailand with my presence (madness I know, because who hasn’t been to Thailand) my experience of Thai food is somewhat limited to the western-friendly versions dished out anywhere but Thailand. In their defence, most are usually run by expats wanting to bring a piece of their local cuisine to their adopted home, or at the very least have a sourced a chef who does have roots in the country. But they’ll inevitably still be tailored towards the palate they are serving. What you then end up with is a large menu split into categories such as curries, stir fries, noodles and rice, soup on occasion, and 10 or so dishes in each category- something for everyone you could say.
As an indecisive orderer with a shocking case of plate envy, I hate being confronted with a multipage menu book. Add the fact that the descriptions are usually a bit lacking, and I am really in my personal hell as I try to navigate from the tom yum goong to the pad preaw wan, all the while trying to pick something I haven’t ordered before, but not wanting to choose something too obscure that I won’t like. Even when we dined at the Lotus of Siam, often described as the best Thai restaurant in America or the world even, the ridiculously large menu was still my undoing. I used to smirk at the people who always order the pad thai or the green curry after a starter of fish cakes, but over the years I have been worn down by sub-par choices (a burn-my-insides-spicy pork mince slush comes to mind) and now generally resort to a red curry or spicy stir fried type dish. It’s just easier, and there is less chance of diner’s remorse.