Allow me to remind you of my dichotomized relationship with Thai restaurant cuisine via a quote from my past recipe post for Thai Coconut-Tofu Curry:
Bountiful in vegetable curries, tofu as a common stand-in for meat, and gluten-free noodles, Thai food masquerades as an incredibly vegan-friendly option for restaurant dining. However, after tearing off its guise, Thai food reveals itself as dangerous territory for the more health-conscious vegan diner with its refined white rice and white flour noodles, its beloved fish sauce (commonly considered a vegetarian ingredient by Thai chefs because of the condiment’s centuries-deep roots in their cuisine), its frequent use of sugar such as in peanut sauce or sweeter curries, and its notoriously high sodium content.
Even though I adore the bounty of vegetables and complex flavors rampant in Thai cuisine, I don’t often opt to patronize Thai restaurants due to my unwillingness to compromise my healthy eating preferences for a potentially disappointing meal. However, I recently discovered a veritable gem of wholesome Thai yumminess mere blocks from the Vassar campus that promises both nutritious and wildly delicious fare: Thai Spice.
Bursting with vegan-friendly, vegetable-rich dishes, the Thai Spice menu also offers brown rice as an accompaniment to any entree in lieu of the nutritionally void white rice usually available in restaurants of most Asian cuisines. At first glimpse of the words “brown rice,” I immediately fell in love with this campus hub of Thai eats.
Fellow vegan, geography major, and winner of the world’s cuddliest human being award, my friend Hannah joined me in my first Thai Spice experience. We both chose to forgo appetizers, predicting fairly generous portion sizes, and each ordered an entree with a side of brown rice. Following both one of my dormmate’s recommendation and my craving for a steaming hot, brothy meal to combat the blustery autumn day, I chose the Kang Keow Wan Curry—a spicy green curry with sharp Thai basil, succulent bell peppers, julienned strips of bamboo shoot, smoky and meltingly tender eggplant, and huge triangles of impeccably chewy-on-the-outside-silky-on-the-inside tofu. Hannah ordered off the specifically labeled vegetarian section of the menu, opting for the Pad Puk Rummith—perfectly tender mixed vegetables including broccoli, carrots, baby corn, mushrooms, and napa cabbage, paired with the aforementioned tofu of the Thai gods, and lightly coated in an umami brown sauce.
Though I reveled in the comforting heartiness of my curry, I intend to sample a lighter, more veggie-heavy dish on my next visit to Thai Spice since I snuck a few bites from Hannah’s plate, immediately recalling my ardent adoration of simply sauteed vegetables. Needless to say, I will return to Thai Spice in the very near future. And soon after that. And again after that. Perhaps they’ll even whip me up some of their tantalizing pineapple fried rice using rice of the brown variety; if that happens, feel free to attend my wedding with my new favorite Thai restaurant.
Until next time, Ali.