December 5, 2002

Finger Lake 'N Good

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Every once in awhile, we need to reconnect with our taste buds. After all, as students, we tend to view eating as something routine, perhaps even as a waste of time. We shove in a few handfuls of cereal before running to class or eat the same old salad and stir-fry in the dining halls simply for the sake of avoiding starvation. This turns the experience of dining into something boring and burdensome, which completely defeats its original purpose of providing us with the utmost gastronomical pleasure.

It’s true that many of us simply do not have the time to cook up exotic culinary creations everyday, and we really can’t control what the cafeteria decides to serve. So it seems as if we are doomed to a life of limp pasta and fries, until we go back to our homes and have our parents’ cooking help us rediscover that eating can actually be satisfying.

However, at Taste of Thai, nestled deep in the heart of the Commons, one can revive culinary dreams earlier than expected and leave the dreadful memories of crowded dining halls behind. The tantalizing aromas of tamarind and simmering satay sauce allow us to momentarily escape the dreary monotony of a college campus diet and transport us to the quiet, tranquil locale of Southeast Asia.

When entering Taste of Thai, one immediately feels at ease. An aura of comfort is invoked by the soft lighting and the soothing traditional background music. This creates just the right conversational environment that avoids awkward silence or loud, ear-deafening shouting, allowing diners to enjoy their food and each other. The waiters are prompt and look professional in their ethnic uniforms, never rushing their customers or leaving them hanging for 10 minutes just to fill up a glass of water. The colorful decorations of religious traditional art and figurines adorning the room only add to the comfortable authenticity of the experience. Even before the food arrives, Taste of Thai immediately earns high marks in service, cleanliness, and decor, so whether you’re here for a more intimate and romantic outing in the tables-for-two window section, or for something more casual in the back with your friends, you’re sure to enjoy yourself.

To start off the meal, one should begin with a refreshing sip of a sweet Thai iced-tea and a small appetizer. Quite different from the American renditions of Lipton iced tea, this refreshing drink combines Thai tea and evaporated milk into a honeyed blend that somewhat resembles the sweet concoction of tapioca milk tea, only it arrives in a pretty orange shade and is free of unsightly black jelly balls. There are many appetizers from which to choose, ranging from poh pia tod (golden spring rolls) to succulent satay gai chicken skewers, and to pla meuk tod krop (lightly batter-fried squid). Whatever you choose to order, chances are good that it will be light and leave plenty of room for the main course.

When ordering an entree, don’t be shy about sharing several dishes among all the members of your dinner party, rather than having everyone order a single dish for themselves American-style. As long as no one is sick with mono or herpes, digging all of your eating utensils into the same plate is fairly harmless. Besides, why restrict yourself to a whole plate of endless rice noodles, when you can spice up your life with a spoonful of piquant seasoned beef and sizzling stir-fry?

Taste of Thai’s pad thai, the signature Thai dish that consists of tamarind-seasoned rice noodles pan-fried in a scrumptious medley of succulent shrimp, plump chicken pieces, sharp peppers, thin strips of tofu and bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts, is a great choice for seasoned dining veterans as well as apprehensive amateurs.

Because Thai cooking is not heavy, you’ll probably have some room left for dessert. If this is the case, you absolutely must try the fried ice cream. This dessert consists of a large single scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream surrounded in a sticky caramelized coat of coconut placed on a pool of dazzling raspberry syrup, nicely topped off with a dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. The fried ice cream can be shared between two friends, or devoured greedily by a single diner.

So whenever you feel the food at school is letting you down, or if you just need to do something new and exciting, venture into the comfortable warmth of Oriental dining hospitality that is offered at Taste of Thai. A single taste is all it takes to transport you to a world of wonderfully exotic aromas and spices, far from the stale and mundane smells of pizza and takeout.

Archived article by Sherry Jun