Sunday, January 17, 2010

Love you Bong time

The nineties are over, and it's no longer enough for Thai food to taste hot and a bit limey. It needs to be good these days, and most of it isn't. My girlfriend and I recently sent an entire order from Star Thai in Three Lamps down my waste disposal it was so terrible, and after bad meals at Erawhan Herne Bay and some other place on Ponsonby Road next to Rocco I was ready to give up on the genre.

Joy Bong though is very good. It is a little more expensive, but I think that's a good thing. Ordering meat in  an Asian restaurant generally requires an ethical suspension of disbelief, and my guess is that more expensive means less dodgy. You'll still never find any free range chicken - they just don't seem to care - but hopefully paying $15+ for a main makes it more likely that the beef is from New Zealand and has therefore had some sort of life before the plate.

The menu is fairly standard Thai, but has a page of "Isaan" dishes which, it says, "all come with sticky rice". When I wondered out loud what "Isaan" meant, my older brother Henry confidently informed me that it meant "comes with sticky rice", but I didn't believe him. Asking the waitress proved inconclusive, as all she was able to tell us was that they were "traditional" dishes, as opposed I guess to the red curry, which must have been introduced to Thailand in the last few weeks.

She was better on the recommendations. I'll discuss this fully elsewhere, but there's nothing worse than asking a staff member what's good, and getting a shrug in reply. She said the crispy tarakihi (or possibly gurnard, I can't remember which) was good from the Isaan menu, and she was right. Mum went for Pad Thai, as mums are wont to do, and Henry got a beef salad which tasted of nothing much. Should have gone for something from the "with sticky rice" menu, buddy.

On the way into the restaurant we got stared at by a junkie prostitute in her mid fifties, and on the way out we got accosted by a pretty scary bloke in a wife beater, urgently looking for "two young people". The whole area is a hole; I know because I lived there. That junkie prostitute used to turn tricks in my apartment car park. So, good restaurant once you're inside.

Joy Bong takes the Entertainment Card, if you're into that sort of thing. Personally, if I want to leave with the taste of shame and embarrassment in my mouth, I'll eat at GPK.