Chow Bella

Cafe: Thai E-San

"Thai" this one on for size. Just when you thought you had mastered the various succulent varieties of Thai cuisine, Thai E-San is ready to throw you for a loop with pickled crags. That's right, crabs. For more on these briny crustaceans check out this week's cafe column.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Thai E-San:

My first bite was the expected tanginess and cool crunch of shredded papaya, followed by extreme, lip-searing heat. I'd asked for four out of five on the heat index, and this was no joke -- a few delicate, paper-thin slices of red Thai chile in the salad had me gulping for my Thai iced tea. Then, underneath the papaya, I found chunks of pickled crab in the shell, whose flavor practically knocked me off my chair.

It tasted strongly of the ocean and was intensely, almost numbingly, salty. (Almost.) At that point, I should have stopped, but I actually ate a few more bites out of pure curiosity, as if it would somehow grow on me in a matter of minutes. For as much as I couldn't handle the crab, it was still exciting to find something so hardcore, and to find out the hard way that Thai E-San really will bring the heat if you ask for it...full story

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Jonathan McNamara