There is something so warm and inviting about Asian street food. Scents of perfumed spices, bitter herbs, and tangy sauces would fill my house as my mom heated the wok over a hot flame. It was a no brainer that when it came time for me to travel, I found myself drawn to street food the most. Occasionally I'd go to the type of restaurant and experience a meal that required me to don a dress and heels but I found myself again and again craving comfort food.
Enter Tamarind Hall, a quaint new spot in North Beach, San Francisco that is doing Thai food completely right. Don't be fooled by appearances — this is not fusion. This is not new american cuisine.
I had flavors that were unfamiliar to me, but felt strangely authentic. This is the type of cooking that draws from the soul.
Authenticity is something valued in street food but then comes the debate.
"What is actually authentic? Whose experience is authentic? Is it right to discount one experience because we have not experienced it before?"
A conversation that clearly should not be discussed unless completely inebriated. We had an assortment of complex dishes, each delighting more so than the previous. My personal favorite was the Yum Kai Dao — crispy fried duck eggs cooked with homemade chili jam, peanuts, onions, garlic, Thai chilies, mint, house-cured bacon and lime juice.
The flavors of each dish felt unfrilly, complex, and a little cheeky as the dishes were garnished elaborately with edible flowers, herbs, and ornate dishware — a juxtaposition to the normal hastily prepared, quickly eaten street food.