Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spice Room

Columbia City recently had a flurry of new restaurants open up, from Full Tilt Ice Cream to Wabi Sabi Sushi, and we've been eager to try them and other spots in the neighborhood we've been ignoring in favor of El Sombrero. Thanks to Rowan's birthday, we got to check out Full Tilt a couple weeks back, and tonight (as part of our All New Restaurant April promise) we decided we'd try out Spice Room.

We'd heard good things about the food and GREAT things about the cocktails, so we started off with a Mojito for Dan and a 5 Spice Thai Tea ($8) for me. It's a blend of Malibu Rum, Thai tea, cream (coconut in my case), and Chinese five spice powder, that was rich and lived up to the restaurants moniker, with it's dusting of five spice on top.

Dan & I are in agreement that ripe papaya tastes like the sweat rung out of a dirty gym sock - though we've had rare occasions where it somehow transcended that flavor and worked in a dish (the shrimp & papaya salad at Luau comes to mind). But Dan heard that green papaya is a whole other animal, and wanted to give it a try.

The Spice Room version ($9) is a combination of shredded green papaya with green beans, dried shrimp, shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes and peanuts - with a very spicy dressing (2 stars minimum; we went for 3 out of 4) and served with a wedge of cabbage. The cabbage made me think we were supposed to eat the dish like Larb, picking up a bit of the salad with a piece of cabbage. The long papaya strands made this awkward and messy, so I went for my fork and had much better luck.

It definitely didn't have any of that foot flavor we both associate with papaya, and we both enjoyed it very much - though 3 stars was maybe more than we should've gone for.

We also shared a dish from the 'ADVENTUROUS' section of the menu that neither of us had encountered before: Kao Soy - Egg Noodles, Chicken, Mustard Greens, Beansprouts and Yellow Curry ($12). It was a soupy curry with a delicious broth.

And we went for another unfamiliar dish as our other shared entree: Phad Khing - Ginger Strips, White & Green Onion, Red & Green Peppers, and choice of protein ($11). We went for pork tenderloin in the dish, and it was fairly tender and certainly flavorful.

The cocktails, true to reputation, were great, and the food was flavorful and definitely spicy - though I wonder if the flavors would've stood out more if we'd been more conservative on the heat. I particularly like the variety on the menu, including many items I've never seen at other spots we've been (the roasted duck with pineapple is particularly intriguing). Next time, I'd like to try their Phad Thai - so I can compare this staple dish to other versions.

The Spice Room on Urbanspoon

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