The new Thai restaurant is recovering from a busy lunch, a few tables still cluttered with bowls, napkins, platters, and chopsticks - The calm after the storm that is only recognizable to restaurant people. I hate that I'm arriving just before closing, but I'm starving and thirsty - Thankfully delighted that the hostess seats me at a wall table - in fact, it's table number 3, denoted by the numerical sticker on the side of the napkin dispenser. I keep expecting to hear resentful criticism from the kitchen and/or service staff, a string of cross, unfamiliar Thai words interjected with "number 3" - I can only imagine translated to "What an asshole...yeah, he's at table 3...walking in here a few minutes before we close - asshole!" It was reminiscent of my high school days as I rose through the ranks of dishwasher, busboy, and then server at the only Thai restaurant in the Texas town I lived in. Only then it was usually the owner/head chef cursing me for screwing up an order or being late; "Unintelligible thai words....CASE....unintelligible Thai words....PUNK ASS....unintelligible Thai words...!" Back then I would just nod and take it as I slid on my red silk server's blouse (yeah, I said blouse) speckled with blue flowers and chili sauce.; but not now I'm a grown man, and I swear to God, I'll walk right the fuck out of here. But much to my surprise, the staff are quite gracious and attentive, doting even as they tend to my needs while cleaning up the dining room.
I order a large Thai tea; earthy, milky, and ultra sweet - I suck it down, consuming almost half of it immediately, stopping only to breathe as I recollect our family Thai Tea debacle from just a few short years ago. Both daughters and I had gone to lunch at Thai Diner, devouring a huge meal of sushi, ramen, seaweed salad, and spring rolls, but not before engaging in an endeavor that would go down as one of my greatest fails as a father. We each ordered a large Thai tea, at least 32 ounces of the thick, creamy, condensed milk laden drink, of which I proposed, or rather, challenged both girls who were 7 and 14 years of age, to see which of us could finish the beverage first.
Georgi, eyes crossed as she sucked down the last drop from her straw, easily beat Lily and I. The issue didn't appear until 15 minutes after leaving the restaurant as we were approaching a busy intersection with a stop light, Georgi grumbled that her "tummy hurt," followed by two burps, one long and deep, the other short and shallow - I fumbled to roll down her window from the front seat, just in time for her to poke her head out of the window, notice cars next to us, then with eyes wide open looking for a less embarrassing locale, retreat back inside the car to unload every last bit of our lunch, Thai tea included, all over my back seat. When I say it looked like a crime scene, I'm not exaggerating. As mentioned, this was not one of my prouder moments as an adult, father, or even human being; and since that infamous day, Georgi had worn off Thai food, and Thai Tea - and honestly, who could blame her.
I was snapped out of my sad recollection as the server dropped of an order of Summer Rolls, stratified with red pork, rice, carrots, lettuce, green onions, and cilantro next to a pair of peanut and rice wine vinegar based dipping sauces. Then came my large bowl of Tom Yum Miso Ramen, teeming with red and black specks, thick noodles, shrimp, pork, crab, egg, cilantro, and briny fishcake. I twirled the noodles around my chopsticks, slurping and sucking everything in sight; it was divine, but I could only eat a quarter of the bowl. Still, I was in love with the ramen at Thai Taste.
Suddenly I was compelled - snapping a quick pic of the Thai tea, I sent it to Georgi, who is now 13, with the caption "thirsty?" and even though she was in school I was granted an immediate response that simply said: "I think I could give it another try." My sweet girl. I started hatching a plan to bring her back soon to face her culinary nemesis of seven years, right here at table 3; lesson learned, all is well, all is forgiven, Thai Tea Challenge 2018 - Here we come!