Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's a Thai!

Kreg and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this year with a trip to Hawaii. We decided to stick with one island this time and stayed on Oahu. Kailua, a small beach town, on the windward coast was the perfect choice for us. It's more laid back, yet close enough to the action of Waikiki & Honolulu.

We had stayed in Kailua before so we knew what to expect as far as vegan food was concerned. On our last trip, Kreg fell in love with the garlic cabbage at Champa Thai. So, we knew we'd be back for more!

This time we ordered the garlic cabbage with tofu and a papaya salad starter. The papaya salad was so garlicky I couldn't eat it. Raw garlic affects me, so I refrained from eating it. (Cause Kreg would have complained the whole time about my garlic breath!) You would think we'd have to be wary of the GARLIC cabbage but NO ... the garlic was cooked, so it's mellow and delicious!

The garlic cabbage and tofu did not disappoint. It was better than we remembered. The tofu was cut in large pieces that were coated with panko and then fried. Mix that in with thinly sliced cabbage, fried garlic and creamy coconut milk, and serve with sticky rice. Yum! So good, almost made me forget about that garlicky mess of a papaya salad.

On another night we were on the mood for Thai again, this time we decided to try a new place. We read a lot of reviews online and most recommended Saeng's Thai Cuisine. They had a large vegetarian selection on the menu, so we figured we'd give them a shot.

It seemed promising, the restaurant definitely had more ambience. The decor was what you'd expect in a Thai restaurant. Carved wood, sparkly fabrics with elephants embroidered, etc. We ordered a starter of vegetable satay, followed by pad thai with tofu and mixed veggies with tofu.

Everything was mediocre. The peanut sauce with the satay was really sweet. The mixed veggie & tofu dish was nothing special. Saucy, bland and uninspired (I hate when all you get are canned baby corn, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots). And the pad thai... forget it. Too saucy and too sweet. Tasted like they used ketchup in the sauce. I prefer my Thai food to be more savory with a layering of flavors, not sweet, saucy glop.

Guess you really can't judge a book by it's cover. While the decor was nice ... the food was blah.

Neither place is perfect. Champa Thai has their share of sweet sauces (where they should be balanced) too. Saeng's has the ambience, Champa has slightly better food.

Note: The picture is from our dinner at Saeng's.

Champa Thai
306 Kuulei Rd
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 263-8281


Saeng's Thai Cuisine
315 Hahani St
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 263-9727

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