Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baan-Thai Restaurant

Baan-Thai Restaurant, located on SW Broadway right next to Portland State University, has a reputation for serving up some of the spiciest Thai food in Portland.

Nice that they got an award for Best Thai food a few years ago!

At first, I had a bit of trouble finding the restaurant. I didn't realize Baan-Thai was on the second floor, so I initially mistook a coffee shop (which was closed at the time I went) for the restaurant. Then of course, I smartened up and figured everything out.

I had a quest to get something a little on the healthy side, but with a ton of heat. Having already had my fill of carbs for the day, I went with their garlic and pepper stir-fry dish: a choice of meat (or vegetarian) with steamed vegetables, stir-fried with garlic and black pepper, served with rice. I chose chicken for my meat, and, despite the server's warnings about the spice levels, I got it extra hot anyway.

Garlic and Black Pepper Stir-Fry w/Chicken, ordered Extra Hot
Oh God. There's chicken and veggies under all that spice somewhere.
OK, first of all, the presentation was absolutely dreadful. It looked like someone picked up a piece of roadkill, dumped the entire canister of spices on it, and served it over a few steamed veggies. There was no color to this dish whatsoever.

The flavors...what flavors? I predominantly got charred spices coating the insides of my mouth. It also appears they use some form of spicy red oil in there as well -- which ultimately collected in an unappetizing heap at the bottom of the plastic take-out container. The garlic flavor did come through a little, probably only because garlic has such a strong presence to begin with.

I will admit, Baan-Thai brings some good heat. I'd give their extra-hot about an 8 on a scale of 1-10, but again, this spice level would probably be inedible to many patrons. After all, what else can you expect when your meal looks like spice with a side of chicken and rice? This was inedible to me, too, but only because the spices overwhelmed the other flavors (not because it was too spicy).  I somehow managed to get *some* flavors of the chicken in this dish -- but the chicken was a little on the dry side. The vegetables really didn't bring much to the dance here.

Baan-Thai has a respectable atmosphere with friendly staff. This was a to-go order, so I can't comment much more than that on the dining experience.

This was a pretty bad dish here. I now know that Baan-Thai's version of extra hot means that they will just carelessly throw an unreasonable amount of spices on the entree and make you go on a scavenger hunt for the flavors -- should you dare to eat their extra spicy food. Even if you are a spicehead like myself, do not get Baan-Thai's extra-hot option. It's just not appetizing and may ultimately lead to a dreadful presentation. Maybe Baan-Thai is better off staying with "hot" or "medium" if they actually want people to enjoy any flavor with their spicy meal.

It's one thing to make something spicy (hell, I can make anything spicy). It's definitely another to make it spicy AND tasty. Baan-Thai needs major help when it comes to tasty spicy food...definitely not a fan of this. 1/10

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