Lunch with mom has always been a treat I’ve enjoyed since my early college years in the Philippines. And by “early” I mean as early as the first of my three majors. (Just call me Ms. Decisive.) I still remember one of the first places we frequented on our Wednesday lunch dates: Cosa Nostra in Manila, which at that time was a tiny restaurant with only a handful of tables, where I had some of the best puttanesca ever.
Then we moved to the New York area, and suddenly, it was like an invitation to the big league. So many different restaurants, celebrity chefs, dinner-and-a-show packages … my mom was soaking it all in, and I was right there with her. Alas, much as I enjoyed being my mom’s date as she explored what the big city had to offer, I eventually had to give up the student life and join the working class. (In other words, I realized how old I was and stopped mooching off my mama.) And, as one of our many family mottos goes, work got in the way of having a good time.
One thing, though, has never changed. We still try to have lunch together at least once a week, or every other week if our schedules are tight. Because I’m an only girl, our “girls only” lunches have mostly been just me and my mom.
But now I have a sister-in-law, and she doesn’t live in a different state. In fact, her office is only about 20 minutes away from my house. Yay! So we’ve started a lunch club, and a few weeks ago, the three of us enjoyed lunch at Khun Thai.
I was perfectly fine ordering off the lunch menu (in the top photo), which was surprisingly very affordable. But my mom was hungry and the very reasonable prices on the lunch menu concerned her; she figured the portions would be tiny and there might not be enough food. So she asked for the dinner menu as well.
When she’s feeding others, not having enough food is a VERY BIG DEAL to my mom.
My mom had the Green Papaya Salad ($8) from the dinner menu, and I had the Tom Ka Gai ($4). The salad was fresh and crisp, with a lovely Asian dressing that tasted of fish sauce, lime, and sugar. My soup was absolutely delicious, and came in a large bowl. So much for tiny portions.
My sister-in-law had the Rare Tuna Spring Rolls ($8), also from the lunch menu. It came with a seaweed salad, and was almost a light meal in itself.
For her entree, my mom ordered Pan Fried Salmon Fillet ($18.50) from the dinner menu. It came with a green curry sauce, with the salmon resting on roasted eggplant. It was wonderful, and the salmon was moist and full of flavor.
My sister-in-law ordered from the dinner menu as well. She had the Khun Shrimp ($19.50) on the left, with massaman curry, tomatoes, and avocado. It was delicious too, especially with the avocado.
And me? I had the Garlic Shrimp with Rice (seen above, on the right) from the lunch menu, and it was—ready for this?—all of $10. They were huge shrimp, sauteed in a faintly sweet sauce with white pepper and garlic. It was my favorite of all the dishes, and I’m not just saying that because I ordered it. I’m already looking forward to having it again.
Then came dessert. No meal with my mom is complete without dessert. In my family, sometimes meals are an excuse to have dessert after.
My sister-in-law and I ordered the same thing: the Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle ($7). It was really a no-brainer for us. My mom, on the other hand, ordered the Apple Tart Tatin ($6), which had caramelized apples on a crispy wonton skin, topped with vanilla ice cream and berries.
This is how my mom ended up ordering the Apple Tart Tatin:
Mom: Excuse me, do you have fried bananas?
Server: I’m sorry, we don’t.
Mom: Are you sure? Nothing with bananas? I like bananas.
Server: I’m very sorry, ma’am. We don’t have any desserts with bananas.
Mom: Oh. Okay. (Scans menu one more time.) In that case, I think I’ll have the bananas.
Server: (confused, pained silence)
Mom: Or maybe I’ll try the Apple Tart Tatin. But only if you don’t have any bananas.
You can see where I get my incredible maturity.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the food. Let’s talk about the souffle, shall we? Because you may think the souffle above looks nice enough, but oh, by the time they were done with it, it looked both unceremoniously demolished and irresistibly … irresistible.
Yes, please. More, please.
And even though I’m the kind of person who likes her plate clean and orderly, that most definitely doesn’t apply where chocolate is involved.
Yep. I definitely had no problems cleaning up this mess.
If you’re in the Short Hills, NJ area and want to treat yourself to an amazing lunch, I highly recommend Khun Thai.
But whatever you do, please don’t try to order bananas. I don’t think the poor server can take another round of that.