My gastronomical adventures around the world have taught me two things: The concept of “fusion” is ridiculous (you’ll never find “General Tso’s chicken” in China) and it is almost impossible to go wrong with Thai food.
For whatever reason, the Thai restaurants of the world seem to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard, relying on authentic flavors and cooking styles to win over clientele rather than coming up with bizarre hybrid concoctions that they think will suit the local palate more. The same holds true for Taiwan. While I have had some disappointing experiences with restaurants claiming to be “Malaysian” or “Vietnamese,” Taiwan’s Thai restaurants always make the cut.
Home’s Thai Cuisine’s latest branch on Taipei’s Guangfu South Road (光復南路) is, unequivocally, one of the best Thai restaurants I’ve tried outside of Thailand. The breezy, one-story establishment, lined with potted plants on the outside, is located in an alley near Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall that is filled with restaurants serving various types of cuisines from paella to donburi. Also nearby is a gourmet chocolate shop, a florist and a shop selling hair dyes.
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
The interior is a mixture of jade green and dark wood walls decked with black and gold paintings. The seats are dark leather while colorful silk pillows line the sofas. The waiter immediately rushed to our table to poured us cups of complimentary warm lemongrass tea and handed us our menus. Give yourself more than a couple of minutes to study the menu though because it is exhaustive. In the meantime, I knew the food would not disappoint, as the tea was quite exquisite — herbal, gingery and zesty.
We decided to stray from the usual Pad Thai, and order a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. If you can handle spicy, try the traditional Thai minced meat with lettuce (NT$300). Although technically an appetizer, it is hefty enough for a full meal. The minced pork is tender and interlaced with an alluring herbal spiciness that emanates from the spring onions and chili peppers that it is cooked with. The onions add a crunchy dimension, while the lettuce you wrap the meat in makes it cool and refreshing. The minced pork also pairs well with some steamed rice.
Next up is the chicken wrapped in pandan leaf (NT$350). This classic Thai appetizer, which looks fairly simple to make, in fact requires a lot of preparation, and Home’s does an exceedingly good job at achieving the appropriate sweet-savory balance in the garlic, coriander and chili paste that the meat simmers in. The chicken is very tender with the pandan leaf giving it an aromatic kick. It also boasts a mild floral fragrance with milky, coconut undertones. The chili parsley dip is a nice touch, adding to the sweet-savory balance.
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
The spicy fried cabbage with shrimp paste (NT$190) is not for the faint of heart. The dish is incredibly spicy, though in a delightful, savory way. The cabbage is crunchy with the mushrooms providing a softer dimension, though it is the shrimp paste that is the show stealer. Salty, pungent and possessing an aroma akin to roasted shrimp, it helps draw out the texture of the cabbage.
Another must-try is the green curry with beef (NT$370). I have had my share of Thai green curries, but here it is done in a way that is delicate and hearty at the same time. The beef is chewy, thinly sliced and simmering in a thick, creamy curry which boasts an appealing mixture of coconut milk and fish sauce. The dish is pungent but not too spicy, and leaves you with a delightful coriander-lemongrass aftertaste. The curry also makes a good dip for the small slices of toast it is served with.
Herbal, pungent and flavorful, Home’s is the real deal when it comes to Thai cuisine. There is no holding back on the chili peppers, lemongrass and coriander here, and simple as it may seem, it goes to show that the best recipe for success is, ultimately, keeping the flavors authentic.
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
Address: 39, Ln 280, Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路280巷39號)
Telephone: (02) 2778-6806
Open: Daily from 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 10pm
Average meal: NT$600 to NT$900
Details: Menu in Chinese and English, credit cards accepted
On the net: www.facebook.com/
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