Pad Thai Cafe

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The most flavorful Thai food in ABQ

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Fifth visit: July 18, 2016
First visit: March 31, 2016 

Thai Cuisine

How di I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my taste buds can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

Fried Insects

Fried Insects (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine (Thai: อาหารไทย; RTGS: Ahan Thai) is the national cuisine of Thailand. Balance, detail, and variety are of paramount significance to Thai chefs. In his 2010 book The Principles of Thai Cookery, celebrity chef, writer, and authority on Thai cuisine McDang writes:

“What is Thai food? Every country in the world has its own food profile. It reflects its culture, environment, ingenuity and values. In the case of Thailand, these words come to mind: intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor.
“We not only pay attention to how a dish tastes: we are also concerned about how it looks, how it smells, and how it fits in with the rest of the meal. We think of all parts of the meal as a whole – sum rap Thai (the way Thais eat), is the term we use for the unique components that make up a characteristically Thai meal.”

Bird Peppers

Bird Peppers (from Wikipedia)

Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. It is known for its complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Australian chef David Thompson, a prolific chef and expert on Thai food, observed that unlike many other cuisines:

“Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that’s important, it’s the complexity they delight in.”

Seafood Market

Seafood Market (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. In 2011, seven of Thailand’s popular dishes appeared on the list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)”— a worldwide online poll of 35,000 people by CNN Travel. Thailand had more dishes on the list than any other country. They were: tom yam goong (4th), pad Thai (5th), som tam (6th), massaman curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and moo nam tok (36th).

There are 19 restaurants in Albuquerque that serve Thai food. Pad Thai Cafe is my favorite, and a cut below you will find Siam Cafe and Thai Kitchen.

Appetizers

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes Thot man pla (ทอดมันปลา)
10 pieces served with cucumbers and sweet and sour sauce

These silver dollar-sized fish cakes are deep fried to perfection. The tangy dipping sauce is out-of-this-world spicy. Incomparable.

Pot Stickers

Pot Stickers

Fried Potstickers

8 pork potstickers, seasoned with pepper, garlic, and fish sauce. Served with sweet and sour sauce.

Surely you have had pot stickers before in many types of restaurants. These are among the very best I have had anywhere. Never salty, but just plain delicious.

egg rolls

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls

Four pork egg rolls served with sweet and sour chili sauce

Smallish egg rolls explode onto your palate. Expertly fried. The dipping sauce is amazing.

Warning: habit forming. You may crave these during the middle of the night.

Tom Yum

Tom Yum

Chicken Tom Yum

Tom Yum Gai (ต้มยำไก่)
Spicy & Sour Chicken soup with lemon-grass, galangal, mushrooms, tomato, lime, cilantro, onion, chili, and fish sauce.

I have eaten Tom Yum all over this country. The Dazzling Deanell agrees that this is the best we have ever had. The spicing is outrageously good. The lemongrass and chiles bathe your taste buds in a rich bath of complex flavors. Fabulous dish.

Entrees

Pad Thai Cafe has an extensive menu. Among mu favorite types of dishes are curries and noodle dishes. Here are some I have not tried yet:

  • Spicy Fried Rice with Chicken
  • Green Curry Fried Rice
  • Pad Lad-Nah (ผัดราดหน้า)
  • Pad Siu (ผัดซีอิ๊ว)
  • Stir Fried Eggplant
  • Spicy Chili Basil Pad Gra Phow (กะเพรา)
  • Pad ped (ผัดเผ็ด)
  • Chicken with Cashewnuts Kai phat met mamuang himmaphan (ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์)
  • Moo Thod (หมูทอด)
  • Som tam Thai (ส้มตำไทย) (Papaya Salad), and
  • Laab (ลาบ) (Minced pork salad)

Here is a sampling of what I had. There will be more. Lots more.

Thai Curries

Thai curry refers to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste; the term can also refer to the pastes themselves. A Thai curry dish is made from curry paste, coconut milk or water, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, and herbs. Curries in Thailand mainly differ from the curries in Indian cuisine in their use of fresh ingredients such as herbs and aromatic leaves over a mix of spices.

The curries at Pad Thai Cafe are consistently the best I have ever had. The smoothness and mouthfeel are exquisite. The flavors explode onto your palate. The heat level can be anywhere you want, from mild to Thai hot (and more). Look at the image of Yellow Curry. I asked Noi to make this Thai hot. It was (see the flakes of red chile?). The heat does not mask the other spicing, a tribute to the excellence of this kitchen.

You can add chicken, beef, shrimp, or fried catfish to any of these. My favorite is the Panang with catfish.

Red Curry

Red Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and red bell pepper.

Yellow Curry

Yellow Chicken Curry Kaeng Kure (แกงกะหรี่)
Chicken, coconut milk, yellow curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, white onion, and potato

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Curry

Green Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and Bamboo shoot

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry
Coconut milk, curry paste, chicken stock, fish sauce, salt, sugar, roast peanuts, yellow onion, and potato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panang Fish Curry

Panaeng Catfish phanaeng pla duk (พะแนงปลาดุก)
Catfish, coconut milk, panaeng curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, Kafir lime leaf.

Panang curry with chicken represents the diversity of Thailand’s southern region. Panang refers to the island of Penang in Northern Malaysia bordering southern Thailand. Use 4 tablespoons curry paste from a fresh curry paste recipe or 5 tablespoons pre-made curry paste if time does not permit making your own paste.

This delicious curry has become my top favorite, and has earned a coveted place on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Noodle dishes

Most Americans know a handful of Thai noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles. You need to break out of this rut and widen your sights. Check out this list of Thai noodle dishes.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai (ผัดไทย)
Garlic, shallot, bean curd, rice stick noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, & lime
Add beef, chicken, pork , or shrimp.

Stir fried medium size rice noodles (sen lek) with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, ground peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives (kuichai), combined with pork, chicken, seafood, or tofu.

This famous dish has become the most popular dish in many American Thai restaurants. In all other Thai restaurants I have tried, this dish is much too sweet and boring, At Pad Thai Cafe, all of the elements are perfectly balanced. Order it spicy to Thai hot.

A favorite of Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles 

Drunken Noodles Kuai-tiao phat khi mao (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดขี้เมา)
Stir fried wide rice noodles with fish sauce, chili, garlic, basil, baby corn, carrot, and broccoli
Beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp

The Dazzling Deanell Collins could not stop raving about this fabulous dish. Aces for appearance, taste, and texture. You will not find a better version anywhere else in New Mexico.

Sweets

There are only three desserts listed on the menu:

Khao tom mat sai kluai (ข้าวต้มมัดไส้กล้วย)
Sticky coconut and banana rice cake wrapped and steamed in banana leaf,

Mango Rice Khao niao mamuang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง)
Sticky rice cooked in sweetened thick coconut milk, served with slices of ripe mango, and

Ice Cream Combo
Three Scoops of Mango, Green Tea, and Coconut ice cream, topped with toasted almonds.

When ordering a lunch special, a dessert-of-the-day will be included, such as one of the four pictured here. The sweet purple rice hes a thick, syrupy texture and is delicious. The tapioca and corn is to me the very best Thai dessert I have tasted. Not too sweet, but just right. If you are lucky, this will be the dessert of thr day, so jeep going back to see what comes up on your next visit.

Sweet Purple Rice

Sweet Purple Rice

Fruit

Fruit

 

Watermelon

Watermelon

Tapioca

Tapioca and Corn

 

 

 

You probably have had the rest. Now you need to treat yourself with the best. Often. Anw when you are finished, go into the Talin Market right next door and  stock up on the makings for creating these dishes right in your own kitchen. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh Bird Peppers. I cook with them all the time. HOT.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Tom Yum and Dumplings

Tom Yum and Dumplings

“When you discover a restaurant as amazing as the Pad Thai Cafe, you’ve got to share it with your friends.  For the most part that means sharing my observations on this blog.  Among my cherished readers are three of my very best friends, fellow foodies who’ll drop what they’re doing to join me for a meal to validate the veracity of the claims on my blog. My second visit to the Pad Thai Cafe was with Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott: Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate; and the Dazzling Deanell Collins.  They were all surprised at the diversity, explosiveness and balance of flavors in every dish we enjoyed.  By meal’s end, there was near unanimous consensus that the Pad Thai Cafe is the Duke City’s very best Thai restaurant.

“Named for a dish that had never before “wowed” me, the Pad Thai Café would be a restaurant we’d have on our regular rotation if we had a regular rotation. It’s one of the very best Thai restaurants in the Duke City.”


Pad Thai Cafe 

(505) 266-0567

PadThai01LocationFairgrounds 
110 Louisiana Boulevard SE Suite A,
Albuquerque,, NM  87108
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Mon – Sat: 
11 AM to 8 PM, except
Closed Tuesday
Sun:  
11 AM to 7 PM

Pad Thai Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Previews of Coming Attractions

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As I get older and wiser, I find that my eyesight is slowly deteriorating. It is getting more trying to write as many reviews as often as has been my habit. From now on, I will be very selective about what I post here. Here is my plan:

All restaurant reviewed here must be

  • Outstanding — among the very best that New Mexico has to offer, or
  • Unique — in a class all by itself.

I won’t write a review until I have been there at least four times. As always, I welcome your suggestions. Here is what is in the queue right now.

Except for some special events such as Wine Pairing Diners. Like this one at Blade’s.


Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

The Point Grill

The Point Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Savoy Bar and Grill

Savoy Bar and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Catfish

Catfish

Bucket Headz Southern Home Cooking

Bucket Headz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Fun Stuff, Gossip, Information, Restaurant Posts | Leave a comment

M’Tucci’s Italian

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One of the best Italian restaurants in New Mexico

Panorama

Twelfth Visit: April 30, 2016 
First Visit: February 19, 2015 


There are many Italian restaurants in The Duke City, but few can touch M’Tucci’s  Italian for brilliance. This is the flagship of the M’Tucci’s empire, which consists of an Italian Market and Dali (I’ve eaten there 46 times so far), a Cocina/Grill at the NHCC, and a catering business.

This is not a red-sauce-pasta house, and it is not a Northern Italian (Piedmont) place. It is a modern American Italian place, and as such, it excels at presenting the unusual but amazing dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The owners, Katie Gardner and Jeff Spiegel  (he’s the one in the Hawaiian shirt), and the highly talented chef and GM, John Haas, have created an institution that is unique.  And I love it. It has earned a place on my coveted Top Ten List.

Brunch and Lunch

Sunday brunch is not to be missed. Most restaurants servr Eggs Benedict, but none like this.

eggs Benedict eggplant

eggs Benedict eggplant

Eggs Benedict 

This excellent verso of Eggs Benedict does not sit on an English muffin. Rather, it sits on a lightly breaded slice of eggplant that has been gently fried to a tender crispiness while the interior is soft and runny like melted cheese. The egg yolks are perfectly runny. Good home fries with gently caramelized onions complete this dish.

This dish appears on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Tuna Tacos

Tuna Tacos

Blackened Tuna Tacos

My friend Jack Reynolds had these and was quite pleased. The side salad was nicely dressed with a tasty vinaigrette.

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Crispy Duroc Pork Belly, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, Green Apple, Pickled Red Onion, Local Feta

I am a pork belly freak. These were among the best I have ever had. Lovely blend of ingredients. I want these again.

Dinners and Extras

Here is where John Haas really shines. Listen carefully as your server rates the daily specials. I rarely order from the menu. The specials are amazing.

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Chocolate Martini

Chocolate Martini

The wine list has most anything you might want. The bartender creates very fine (and sometimes unusual) drinks. Try the Chocolate Martini and the Espresso Martini. Ask your server about the Shrubs. These sweet martinis are fabulous. Google the recipes.

Both surprised me, and I will continue to order them from time to time. I an a Bombay Sapphire extra dry with a twist guy.

Pappardelle and Salciccia

Pappardelle and Salsiccia

salsiccia

Pappardelle con Salsiccia  

Pappardelle, house-made sausage, kale, and a white wine-chicken stock sauce, and lemon zest.

This great dish is no longer on the menu, bi John will make it for me anytime.

The sausage is available at M’Tucci’s Market and Deli. I make this at home for guests visiting Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos. Chicken stock, white wine, and lemon zest (adds brightness).

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon 

Wild Salmon, Grilled Asparagus, and Creamy Grilled Polenta

Perfectly grilled salmon with tender asparagus and a cake of grilled polenta. The polenta is slightly crispy on the outside, and the inside is soft and creamy. Never dry.

This dish has become a favorite of several of my gastronome friends. Rightfully so.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Herb Marinated, Grilled Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Lemon

Perfectly grilled medium rare. Tasty and tender. The asparagus is always amazing here. Tender and never stringy. This also is a favorite of several of my friends, including Dazzling Deanell’s brother Darren.

Risotto

Risotto

RISOTTO CARNAROLI DE PESCE  with  

This is a beautifully prepared risotto. The fresh mussels are tender, juicy, and tasty. The texture of the rice could no be better. This dish kept my friend Pam from talking (nearly impossible). She finally came up for air when the dish ws nearly gone.  It’s that good.

Pork Shank

Pork Shank

Pork Shank 

Braised pork shank in a creamy sauce with sauteed greens

Whenever I can, I order Lamb Shanks in Italian and Greek restaurants. This was my first try at pork shanks. Delicious. Perfect appearance, taste, and texture. Slow cooked to the almost-falling-off-the-bone doneness, they are a big hit with me.

I had this dish two times in a row. Not on the current menu (they were a special), ask for them in advance. Get lucky.

Desserts and Fun Stuff

Chocolate Mousse 

Linda's Birthday

Linda’s Birthday Mousse
The sparklers are free

 

 

Fried Twinkie

Birthday Twinkie

Darren’s Birthday Fried Twinkie
Sounds disgusting, but it’s not.
At least, that’s what Darren says

 

M'Tucci's Panorama

What others are saying

Gil GarduñoNew Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner
Owners and Operators

“Katie Gardner and her husband Jeff Spiegel moved to Albuquerque, his hometown, in 2007. Eventually they started to miss the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business and launched M’Tucci’s Kitchina in July, 2013. The “M’Tucci” in the restaurant’s name is in honor of Richard Matteucci, a friend of Jeff’s. A framed black-and-white photo of Jeff, Richard and an unidentified frolicker celebrating a (very) good time hangs among the bric-a-brac. You’ve got to love an owner who shares in his fun.

John Haas

John Haas Chief Magician

“The visionary behind the menu is John Hass, executive chef and member of the restaurant’s ownership triumvirate. John’s interpretation of traditional foods often involves their deconstruction, refining and reinvention. You’ll still recognize the traditional dishes with which you’ve grown up, but they might not be exactly as you  John is already so highly regarded that he was named “best chef” runner up in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque Restaurants 2013.  Traditional items he prepares might not be exactly as you may remember them. They’ll be better! The ricotta stuffed cannelloni dish, for example includes both marinara sauce and New Mexico red chile which is why it’s sub-titled “Enchiladas Italianas” on the menu.”


M’Tucci’s Italian

Open Hours(505) 503-7327
Table reservation recommended

Paradise Hills
6001 Winter Haven Road
Albuquerque, NM 87120

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M'Tucci's Kitchina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Horseman’s Haven Cafe

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 It’s the chile, stupid… 

Chow Station

First Visit: November 19, 2011

This excellent restaurant may have odd hours, but it is also a local favorite. The Haven has some of the best green chile in the entire state of New Mexico. Service is quick and friendly, and their prices are reasonable. The level #2 green chile is not for the faint of heart, seriously, and some have deemed it as the hottest green chile in the entire southwest. You have to special order it with your meal. But I get ahead of myself.

Green Chile Cheeseburger with level 2 green on the side

I have been on a Green Chile Cheeseburger quest since I came to New Mexico 3-1/2 years ago. I maintain a list of the top ten that I have found in my Hall of Fame page. When I order a GCCB, I get it competition style —patty, cheese, green chile on a nondescript lightly toasted bun — so I can judge the taste and texture without salad on it and without mustard or ketchup (ugh) to adulterate it.  Jane usually orders them straight off the menu, the way that the cooks present them. We compare notes.

The level 2 half GCCB. Wow!

I had been told by gastromomes whom I trust that the Haven makes a really great GCCB, so there we were one Saturday afternoon staring at two of the loveliest looking GCCB creations that I have seen. The beef is properly fatty and not dry, but quite moist without being greasy. These are hand-cut and hand0formed beef patties with a tantalizingly irregular shape. No cookie-cutter patties here, Bub. The cheese was properly gloppy (with almost stick-to-your-teeth consistency.) Bun was great, not yuppie style with some seeds baked onto the top.

I ordered two small dishes of the Green for comparison and experimentation. The regular Green is very high on the piquancy scale, which may be too hot for most tourists and gringos. This I put on one half of the burger, and covered the other half with a mixture (half and half) of the regular and the legendary level 2 stuff. Both halves were fantastic, but then I am a chilehead. Jane stuck with the regular Green. A minor point—the Green, while very tasty, could have a slightly more smoky taste.

Really Great Home Fried Potatos

Both lunches were accompanied by a large pile of most delightful home fried potatos that were cooked to perfection. They were slightly crusty, and were probably the best that we have had in New Mexico. Almost worth a special trip from Corrales to Santa Fe.

There may be those who think that eating really hot chile concoctions borders on the macho. Well, these folks don;t appreciate the beauties of properly prepared Green or Red. Get over it. It adds to and complements whatever it is served with. So there.

#3 GCCB

#3 GCCB

The Haven serves many other delicious sounding (and looking) New Mexican dishes. Something for every taste. Maybe I’ll try them sometime. When I get my fill of the GCCBs, that is. The room is truck-stop modern, and all the diners (mostly locals, I surmise) look happy. I know why. Go there and get happy.

The Haven’s GCCB cracked my Hall of Fame, and is now my third favorite GCCB in New Mexico (therefore the universe).

Horseman’s Haven Cafe

(505) 471-5420

Santa Fe
4354 Cerrillos Rd Map
Santa Fe, NM 87507

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Posted in Burgers, New Mexican, Santa Fe | 2 Comments