Monday, December 20, 2010

More "Thai", Less "River" Please

Pei Wei's Thai River Noodles
Call me a sucker for marketing campaigns, but when I stood in front of the Pei Wei menu boards, thinking about my options, I couldn’t resist the call of the Thai River Noodles. It was their newest dish and the digital display practically plucked me from my place in Texas and transported me to a busy street in Bangkok. I closed my eyes and could see the crowded sidewalks, feel the tropical air and smell the exotic spices and sauces in nearby restaurants.

Meanwhile, back in the USA…

As I order the noodles with tofu and vegetables, I’m informed that they just ran out of Chinese broccoli and will substitute with “regular” broccoli. “That’s fine”, I say, but secretly I wonder if my surprise trip to Thailand is about to come to an abrupt end. Hoping for the best, I sit down and feel a rush of excitement when my plate is placed in front of me.

Visually, the dish is impressive. The portion size could feed a family of four, and bright vegetables contrast beautifully against the bed of noodles. The broccoli, the carrots, the red peppers all look fresh and the noodles appear to have been perfectly cooked. I grab my chopsticks, dive in and take my first bite. Expecting to be taken right back to my dream of Bangkok, I was disappointed to find that my taste buds were stuck in Texas. The first word that came to mind was BLAND. Second, DRY. Everything tasted the same and the tofu was overcooked. Convinced that I must be missing something, I took another bite. This time I dug around for some red pepper flakes, praying that would kick things up a notch. No such luck. It was a little spicier, but I had to be honest. There were hints of soy in what little sauce was at the bottom of the bowl, but this dish simply didn’t taste like it had any real Asian influence.

To make matters worse, after a few more bites, I discovered a hair hidden in my noodles. My appetite was lost immediately and, while the manager was very apologetic and did everything he could to remedy the situation, I don’t think I’ll be ordering the Thai River Noodles again.

No comments:

Post a Comment