Would You Like That “Thai Hot” Or “Mom Mild”?

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Dave’s View:  Is there an eggplant shortage?  Did the emerald eggplant borer come and destroy all the eggplants in the world?  I tried to order the Padd Makur at Thai Papaya  restaurant on 96th street in Indianapolis, only to be told they don’t have any eggplant.   I then ordered the item below it, which is the Padd Tahu.  Fried tofu with mixed vegetables and Thai sauce.  Now our server recommended the meal and I know why.  Basically eggplant and tofu will absorb all the ingredients around them because when you eat either eggplant or tofu by themselves, there’s not that much taste to them, especially the tofu.  So when the server said they’re out of eggplant, I went with the tofu meal, Padd Tahu.

When the dish came out, it looked pleasant, but when I took my first bite, the Thai sauce was overwhelming.  It completely drowned out everything in the meal.  It was like eating a fish sauce soup.  I had to heap on the rice just to have something of substance to eat.  The vegetables were nice and crisp, but again, the Thai sauce bullied its way in and completely ruined the meal.

The inside is small and cozy and had some interesting art on the walls.  Our table was not clean and had a sticky residue, probably because the server was doing everything by herself in the restaurant.  The place opens at 5pm on Sunday and with a major winter storm and an IU game going on, the owner probably thought it wasn’t going to be busy, but it was.

Our multi-tasked server was kind,  generous, and authentic and did a fantastic job of handling many requests from many patrons in her restaurant.  Really the only drawback was the food and when it comes to a restaurant, the food has got to be number one.  This wasn’t the case with me.

Service:  9  Food:  4  Ambiance:  8  Total:  21 out of 30

$40-$50 with adult beverages.

Andrea’s View:  For Dave’s birthday we combined a food adventure with dinner with my parents.  We chose Thai Papaya on West 96th Street.  I was a tad nervous for various reasons.  Reason number 1:  A giant snowstorm was forecasted to begin at the very same time that we had chosen for dinner.  Reason number 2:  We had picked a time and date for this food adventure before knowing what day and time IU would be playing their second tournament game.  Reason number 3:  My mother doesn’t do well with spicy food.  Yes, restaurants do adjust the spice level on request, but even “mild” in some Thai restaurants can be a little spicy.  But, as it turned out, I really only needed to worry about two of these three concerns.

Dave and I arrived at Thai Papaya at the precise moment that the first snowflakes began to fall.  Let me rephrase that.  We arrived as the first few pellets of sleet began to fall with snow to follow soon.  We also arrived with three minutes left in a very close IU/Temple game.  My parents were already in the parking lot when Dave and I got there, and Mom let me know that they were staying in the car listening to the game until it ended.  Thankfully, IU won in regulation so dinner was not delayed too much, nor was anyone in a foul mood.  (pun intended)

I started to look through the menu when my mom asked, “What should I order?”  I replied, “None of the curry dishes or Tom Yum, they all tend to be spicy naturally, even if ordered mild.  And please order it mild.”  She then said, “So what should I get?”  I named a few of the Thai dishes that I liked, and gave my Dad a recommendation.  Dave then asked what I was getting, and I told him that I didn’t know because I had not looked at the menu for myself.  I picked something just to pick something and went with it.  Our server/cook/cashier/owner took our orders, Dave and I ordering our food medium and Mom and Dad ordering theirs mild.

Since the server/cook/cashier/owner was running the whole restaurant by herself, she brought out our dishes individually.  Dave and Dad’s dishes were easily identified, but there was momentary confusion when Mom’s dish was brought out.  I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had ordered, and Mom had no idea what she ordered so Mom said, “Is this what I ordered.”  I said that I thought so, and Dave said that I probably wouldn’t have ordered that for myself anyway, so that it was probably Mom’s.  My dish came out last and it didn’t look like something I would order either, so then I was really confused.  Then I took a bite of my food.  It was definitely not mild.  I said, “Yeah, this is definitely mine.”  It was kao padd gra prow.  This was spicy fried rice, eggs, banana peppers, onion, basil, and chicken.  It was very good.  I liked my unexpected dish.  In fact, my parents liked their unexpected dishes. So all in all, I really had nothing to worry about.  IU won on the radio.  Mild was as mild as mild could be.  Only two inches of sleet/snow had fallen by the time we had finished dinner.  All was well with the world.

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Thai Papaya Restaurant on Foodio54

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