Sunday, July 11, 2010

Soul Thai takeaway in Grey Lynn

We don't want for much in the lucky suburbs of Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Westmere, but we sure could use some decent takeaway options. Many is the evening I've driven forlornly through the neighbourhood, half an hour in the car to save myself fifteen minutes in the kitchen, hoping I'll come across a cheerful Mexican, a plucky Laotian or a busy fingered Israelite to serve me inexpensive, tasty grub from their homeland.

Inevitably, I return home with fish and chips and a whole lot of questions, like: how does West Lynn have a holistic veterinarian and an organic baby clothing shop, but no Thai restaurant? Why is it that Herne Bay has no pizzeria but three different places to buy a battered crab stick? And what's with all those places that serve takeaway roasts? If there's one type of food that you can neither make quickly nor reheat successfully, surely a roast would be it?

It's only due to these extremely dire surrounding circumstances then, that the arrival of Soul Thai in Williamson Ave has come as such a relief. The food is fresh, well priced and moderately tasty – better than anything else you'll find within a kilometre or so, and at the right end of the miserable spectrum of Thai food we have to put up with in Auckland (for some of the best, buy fresh spring rolls and larb direct from the stall owners at Avondale market). Delivery is free for orders over $20, and the food arrives hot, with about a 40 minute turn around.

I hope it goes well for them: they look like they've put a lot of money into starting up (think glossy menus, mobile eftpos, expensive looking branding at every touchpoint) and it must be hard making all that money back when you're selling Pad Thai for just $13.90.

But the financial viability of the business is not for me to worry about, is it? My job is just to eat the food … eat, eat, eat the food … and try to forget about that humiliating moment on the phone earlier. That moment when shame burnt bright in my cheeks, as I lowered my voice so that no one could hear except me, and the guy from Soul Thai taking my order. That moment when every word of food criticism and middle class ridicule I'd ever spoken was undermined by my use of one single, time-saving phrase: “I'd like it Kiwi hot”.