Hello to everyone out there! Sorry I haven’t been posting recently, but school got quite hectic for awhile with midterms. Plus, my social calendar has been keeping me quite busy. Naturally, trying new restaurants falls under that area of my life, so today I’d like to tell you about Wang Thai. Here is their very informative website. To get there, you just have to go to the Itaewon station and go out exit 1. Head straight for about ten minutes, and you’ll see a stairwell going up that has placards indicating Wang Thai is on the third floor along with the famous What the Book bookstore.
Now, I’ve had my fair share of Pad Thai, but I feel like it’s the of Thai equivalent of tacos for Mexican cuisine. That one ubiquitous dish that can appeal to a wide variety of diners, but really isn’t the be all end all of what the country’s kitchens have to offer. Therefore, I was quite excited to delve deeper underneath the mysterious culinary waters of the land of smiles and sweets. I was out with my friend, Jasmine, who lived in Thailand for awhile, so I let her recommend some good choices to try out. The main criteria was to find a spicy dish to satisfy my eternal need to feel the burn while enjoying my food. Looking over the menu, I could see that the Thai people love their chili peppers, both spicy and sweet, so it was pretty tough just trying to pick one meal. Plus, if you’re a vegetarian, this would be a great place to go out to eat since a lot of Korean food really doesn’t comply with strict vegan guidelines. However, I eventually settled on the nuea yang nam tok (17,000 W) along with a Thai iced tea on the side. My friends’ choices came out quite quickly along with the iced teas, so we quickly pounced on the feast that lay before us.
First, there was the Thai iced tea (5,000 W). I had heard stories from friends who have traveled to Thailand and Vietnam before about how the tea there was amazingly sweet, so I had to try it myself since I have quite a sweet tooth.
It was greatly satisfying as a cool, sweet drink to counter all of the bold flavors we quickly encountered in the dishes we ordered. The key to the decadent taste was the hefty dose of condensed milk on the top that, when mixed with the deep brown chai, formed a drink that tasted like almost like chocolate milk but with an earthy tea aftertaste with every satisfying sip. It was a good start to a great meal. I then moved to try a bit of the som tam (14,000 W) which was a spicy green papaya salad.
It was a semi-bizarre melange of shaved papaya, dried shrimp, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, lime juice, bean sprouts, and chilies. However, it was very refreshing appetizer since it was light thanks to the papaya and bean sprouts, and there were constantly shifting textures ranging from the taught skin of the tomatoes to the crunchy peanuts and crackling dried shrimp. It was a mere prelude to the sensual adventure we were about to undertake. My nuea yang nam tok was a northern Thai specialty that consisted of grilled beef, chilies, lime juice, rice powder, and some fresh vegetables on the side.
Lord, I’ll take your name in vain because this dish was sooooo good. I asked the waiter if they could make it spicier than normal because Jasmine told me northern Thai cuisine is milder than southern Thai food, and the cooks didn’t disappoint me. I used the fresh lettuce leaves to eat the beef and rice ssam bap (Korean wrap) style.
The crunchy, verdant cocoon gave way to a beautiful gastronomic butterfly. It spread its wings starting with the pieces of tender, juicy beef that were slightly tangy thanks to the lime marinade and flew away when combined with the angry-looking, little black peppers that came in every bite. The sprigs of cilantro were great additions to this already superb masterpiece. I tried a little bit of my friends’ meals as well, and I found some of them to be more satisfying than I was anticipating. Case and point, the poo pad pong garee (28,000 W) or sauteed crabs in curry sauce.
Although it looked kind of gross initially with my friend Chris likening the curry coated crabs to cooked tarantulas, I found these soft shelled crustaceans went wonderfully with the yellow, slightly sweet curry and chilies. My friend Jasmine got the panaeng gai (15,000 W) or chicken in spicy red curry.
It was swimming in said curry and all gussied up with kaffir lime leaves, red chilies, and green chilies. What that resulted in was a lovely choice that had about a jalapeno level of spiciness which allowed the savory curry to shine with the succulent pieces of chicken. By the end of the meal, I felt like I just had a food porn experience. I was sweating, happy, and ready for a smoke (er, maybe not that last one haha).
So if you’re looking for some great Thai food that is filled with flames, flavor, and is fun to eat, check out Wang Thai in Itaewon.