Friday, March 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/19/15: Not the Tin Woodsman, Hung Phat Grocery, Nong Gal Mara @ Thai Taste by Kob

1.  Well, the day got off to what's becoming a familiar start:  another doctor's appointment.    Although I've been placed on the transplant list, I'm not quite done with the pre-op evaluation -- keeping in mind that the transplant could be years away.  Today I had my first of three appointments at the Johns Hopkins Community Heart Care Clinic in Silver Spring.  My consultation with Dr. Samuel Itscoitz was terrific, not only because the early indications of the EKG are that my heart is in good shape, but also because Dr. Itscoitz, the clinic staff, and Maggie, the nurse, were so good, they almost made me wish I had heart disease so I could come back.  In a couple of weeks I'll have an echocardiogram and a week later an echo-stress test and then I'm done.  I'll be all done with this pre-op evaluation if the Univ. of Maryland medical people like what they read on my 2011 colonoscopy report.

2. I had done a little reading around on the World Wide Web, and discovered that up the road a ways in from the Heart Care Clinic, in Wheaton, sits an out of the way Asian market with a hole in the wall, highly rated, Thai restaurant next door.  First I went to the market, Hung Phat Grocery, and bought some sauces, some pastes, a bag of rice, and a few other things.  Hung Phat is my favorite kind of Asian grocery store:  a small space with narrow aisles jammed with countless food and non-food items, everything from candies to incense.  It also features a hot food bar -- I'll try it on a future visit.  It makes me very happy that I now know exactly where to go for stuff I like to cook with and that this store is so enjoyable.  Oh!  And the prices are good.

3.  Thai Taste by Kob is right next door to Hung Phat Grocery.  As far as ambiance, it immediately reminded me of the original Yi Shen on Chambers in Eugene -- creaky tables with cheap chairs, dingy linoleum, and lousy lighting.  I loved Yi Shen, so experience had taught me that eateries cannot always be judged my their atmosphere and environment.  I started with a summer roll.  The pieces were packed with shrimp, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, and other delicious herbs and the peanut dipping sauce was just what I wanted:  good and peanutty and a pleasantly hot.  For my lunch, I read deep into the menu and offering #89 (out of 99) caught my eye and triggered my imagination.  It is a chicken noodle soup called Nong Gal Mara.  It features a drumstick swimming in a dark chicken broth seasoned with cilantro, preserved cabbage, and other herbs, along with broccoli, scallion, and bitter melon.  Given a choice of noodles, I ordered flat rice noodles.  Vin, the restaurant's only server for lunch, brought me a "spice tray", a tray of four jars of peppers and a jar of hot powder to raise the heat of my soup, should I want to.  I did, happily, but not so much that the heat overwhelmed the deep mysteries of this soup's multiple flavors of mild sweetness and sout meatiness.  What a great lunch!  I can hardly wait to return.

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