The Best Things in Life....

Bha-Mee-Kee-Mow with chicken
...come in plastic!

No, of course not. But the best thing in life is a delicious, tasty, satisfying meal. And I can tell you just where to get one. Actually, I can tell you where to get 120, with infinite variations on those choices.

Right across the street is Pat Thai Restaurant. They obviously make Thai food and it is excellent. I live on it. Any of you who read this regularly know that I won't touch raw food and I cook nothing (other than making hot water in a teapot for my tea, which I drink frequently come the cooler weather), so I am a hopeless case that way. But where I used to indulge in fast food, such as pizza or Chinese food, I now eat Thai food. It is not fast food - it is made within ten minutes, but after that the comparison stops.

Pineapple fried rice
I have three dishes that I love: pineapple fried rice, Bha-Mee-Kee-Mow (with chicken) and Praramrongsong. That's three dishes out of literally 120, and they can often be made with different meats or no meat; spicy or not. I happen to love the spiciness of their food - I'm up to level 8 (7 is described as "Very hot - intolerable for most of the population, serious mouth-burning heat, seasoned players only, please!" - doesn't sound much like the person who won't eat many foods like me) on the pineapple fried rice. Bha-Mee-Kee-Mow I eat at level 2 or 3 - it is naturally spicy and the area affected is my lips and front of the mouth, which I am not as accustomed to (the pineapple fried rice is back-of-the-mouth hot - and there is a difference. The Praramrongsong is a sweet dish by nature, chicken and broccoli in peanut sauce, but they add curry to it (I think it is curry, anyway) to spice it up for me. I love it. The sweet-and-spicy combination is very interesting. I can eat that at level 4.

If you show up and ask for something at level 10, you will be asked to sign a waiver. I'm not sure why, really, but I suspect that when I reach level 10, I won't be signing anything. It did not happen overnight. I began ordering pineapple fried rice at level 3, which amusingly is described as "American Hot". It is hardly spicy at all and I quickly went to four and then five. I stayed at five for maybe two months and made the change to 6, which is between Hot and Very Hot. I'm beginning to think about hopping to level 9. I've been on 8 for close to eight months now.

I've also had the Lahb, which is ground chicken or pork, rice powder, shallots, Kafir lime leaves tossed in lime dressing, at level 5 and it is just delicious! It is a perfect appetizer. I have to say all the offerings are excellent, really. I don't remember when I first tried it, but it is at least three years ago, and I've been eating their food at least two times (usually much more) a week. Food that flavourful is at a premium and it is worth every penny, this I promise.

The first time I decided to try the food, someone told me it is expensive. I would disagree. It isn't cheap, but let's be serious - when is "cheap" and "delicious" in the same sentence a good thing? (It isn't, so don't try to pick that argument.) As an EMT, I can tell you that fast food has only one selling point - it is fast. But what if you could get real food that is still fast but healthy, delicious and made to your liking? Don't pick that argument, either - pizza made with your topping of choice fails the healthy test. And "foods" like MacDonald's and Burger King and Wendy's really is not food - not what I would consider food. My husband gets his dinner occasionally from the Wing Zone and just the smell of it makes me queasy. I think there is something wrong with the chicken - as in it is not good or maybe it is past its expiration date - because nothing makes me feel that nauseous from the smell like that. I don't like fried chicken, but the Colonel's doesn't smell like the Wing Zone stuff.

The price is, as I said, not cheap. The average meal is between $14 and $20 per person, but this gets you a huge amount of food. The take out food is not as mountainous as the meals served in the restaurant (I can never finish my meals when I eat there) but it is still excellent value for the money. And the food is re-heatable (they will tell you how when you get it wrapped up to take home), so it is not a one-shot meal choice.

They do not serve alcohol so you will need to bring your own should you decide to try it out. The restaurant has a delightful atmosphere and eclectic bits of art and decor and plays great music. The staff are knowledgeable and know the food extremely well. I'm good friends with Pat and Jerry Hocek and of course, Pat's mother, who is the main chef there. She speaks only Thai and I speak only English, but she still loves to come out when I go there to pick up my food and chat away in Thai while I nod and grin, because the gods help me, I haven't the faintest idea what she is saying! But she and everyone else are friendly and open and will give you excellent recommendations on the food and what dishes would go with the wine or beer you brought along for your meal.

They also take an interest in making sure that the patrons are happy and if someone is there with a small child that is acting up, they will ask that the parents handle the issue or remove the child until he or she is behaving appropriately. I love that. They are never rude about it, but it is clear that a parent who is inclined to let his child act up in the restaurant and ruin other diners' experiences are not tolerated. That alone - to me, at least - is worth its weight in gold. (I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the number of appalling parents there are who allow their little monsters to jump up and down on the chairs or yell in the middle of the meal... but I am. People want to go out and they want to do it when they can't get a babysitter, but if you aren't going to parent, then you should suck it up and wait until you can get a babysitter!

I'm just sayin'...

(Also, if you are in the market for a job, they are looking for help at Pat Thai. Serving experience is needed but other than that, it is on the job training. It is easy to get to the restaurant and is on a bus route so you need not be local to get the job.)

Now, this is just me talkin'-- well, typin'. But don't just take my word for it. Come to Parsippany, home of ten thousand pizza joints and streets full of restaurants and try the one and only Thai food place around here. And not to worry - most people don't eat spicy food. You can get almost any dish sans spice. Some dishes have a bit of natural spice to them, but the staff will tell you if anything is spicy on its own. And natural spicy is only level 1 or 2. There are vegetarian meals, tofu as a substitute for meats and heart friendly meals as well. And with chicken, beef, scallops, shrimp, duck and pork to choose from, there are many ways to make one meal a different experience every time!

So should you find yourself on a night thinking you are tired of the usual foods you eat, come to Pat Thai's in Parsippany. The address is 435 North Beverwyck Road, and it is part of the Super Foodtown building. Leave your preconceptions about Thai food at home and bring your appetite. You will not regret it!


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