Darabar SECRET Thai Cuisine
Feast. Eggplant salad. Pad See-Iw. Spicy spaghetti. Kaeng som kung cha om (sour curry with shrimp and cha-om omelette). Chicken coconut curry. Kaeng pa muu (Wild-boar jungle curry).
The eggplant salad was not for weak-willed or soft-hearted. This was a full-on dish. “Salad,” my ass. The eggplant was presented skinless, soft, and sweet, its subtle flavors peeking up behind crunchy raw onion, tender pork mince, and plump shrimp. It almost seemed like a sweet, slightly sour, cilantro-y eggplant surf and turf, minus the weird fried breading that usually falls off. The dish was finished with hardboiled eggs. Good stuff. Would order it again.
Not too big a fan of crazily starchy combinations, but the Pad See-Iw was solid. Nothing superbly special. Fresh vibrant chinese broccoli, dark soy sauce, tender meat, and fragrant garlic. The spicy spaghetti seemed fairly standard. Maybe a bit too spicy for me.
The rest of the ordered items was based on some hungry perception and [this site](http://sinosoul.com/2012/10/darabar-secret-thai-is-secretly-a-tasty-beast/), which introduced us to the menu that was not listed on actual paper. The kaeng som kung cha-om (butchering the pronunciation and probably the spelling as well) was my first sour curry experience; in deciding whether or not to order it, I moved through the five stages of indecision in five seconds- "yeah, it really can't be THAT sour...maybe I'll just go with a normal Thai curry...mmm but is that the most authentic experience...hmm what other hidden gems are on the menu...uh, go big or go home...yes... can we have another five minutes?" (waiter was ready to kick us out). I decided to stop being a pussy and just order the sour bowl of fun. That probably turned out to be my best decision of the night. The dish came to the table with a full-throttle fire in the middle of a cut-off sombrero-shaped bowl (there's probably an actual name for it, sorry, traditional folks). There were chunks of tender shrimp and cha-om omelette, all floating around in a wonderfully savory and sour curry that smelled a bit...weird at first. Luckily, after the first surprisingly delicious bite, I was hooked, and the entire thing disappeared pretty quickly. [Here's](http://praneesthaikitchen.com/2011/10/15/cha-om-omelette-recipe/) how to make it.
The kaeng pa muu was a jungle curry that apparently harbored wild boar. My taste buds shudder in fear when "jungle curry" is mentioned, as my previous experience at [Jitlada](http://frankchen07.github.io/ccaveman/blog/hot-jungle-curry.html) nearly resulted in my early demise by crazy hot curry. I couldn't taste a real difference (who knows if wild boar was actually used) because part of me was trying not to sweat my clothes off in a frenzy of spice. A tad bit too hot for me, so all in all, the flavors were a bit muted. But this was not the fault of the curry itself; my taste buds were just homozygous for being P-dominant (full-on pansy).
Sour curry in a sombrero bowl.
The chicken coconut curry was the tame member of all of our dishes. It was the creamy contrast to the superbly spicy dishes that we had gotten. Of the dishes, it was frequently sought after in order to "cool" our mouths, although the fat in coconut, as far as I know, really doesn't have much effect on spice. Perhaps it just kind of looked like yogurt or milk, and the association alone made the pain a bit more bearable.
Coconut milk is apparently unconfirmed in helping to alleviate the spicy burn of some dishes. There's plenty of ["unconfirmed" remedies](http://www.wikihow.com/Cool-Burns-from-Chili-Peppers), so I wanted to take a quick detour from the normal remedies (dairy products, starchy foods, removal of tongue, skin grafts), and explore the possibility of escape from spicy city via the coconut milk train.
I searched long and hard for any sort of definitive answer to how coconut milk may relieve the spiciness of certain foods, but no definitive evidence was obtained. There are [reports](http://www.wisegeek.com/how-can-i-reduce-the-pain-after-eating-hot-peppers.htm) of how coconut milk helps to dissolve capsaicin, but no scientific studies were mentioned. There are, however, small amounts of fructose (analogous to fruit sugar) in coconut milk, which may help to alleviate the pain, but again, this was unconfirmed. My suspicion is that capsaicin molecules are slightly fat soluble and the high fat content of coconut milk may bind simply by oversaturation (the higher probability that the numerous fat molecules from coconut milk would "catch" a capsaicin molecule).
Cold dairy products such as milk and yogurt are still the number one quencher of fiery spice. Casein, a protein found in dairy binds to capsaicin, preventing it from adhering to your sensitive taste buds. Highly acidic foods also work, as the acid neutralizes the alkalinity (base) of capsaicin.
I recall turning to my friend and saying,_ "I don't really taste anything anymore."_ Of course, this was the sad result of being completely over-spiced. Unfortunately, there is probably a genetic basis for how much spice we can tolerate. For those who weren't blessed in the gene pool, we just have to resort to tongue-scrubbing and smaller amounts of searingly hot food in order to make a correct judgment on taste.