Greetings fellow food-friends! Welcome to my very first review of the well-known Thai restaurant, Ah-Hua.
This authentic (so they say) food joint is located near Helvetiaplatz , a square near to the famous, constantly busy and party-prone Langstrasse – literally translated to the long street.
I haven’t been to Ah-Hua for about three years, so I was looking forward to see if it had improved in food quality. Judging by the crowded restaurant the last time I entered through the entrance, I had expected it to be amazing, but was gravely disappointed. Back then I pushed my disappointment on the fact that I have been spoiled with too much perfectly delicious food from my absolute favorite restaurant Nagasui, and told myself it’s just me..I mean why else would this tiny place be non-stop, jam-packed full?! So, when I entered the restaurant yesterday, I had a mission – I had to find out why this place was so popular!
Similar to my last visit, every table was already taken before we arrived (we did however reserve a table, so didn’t have to wait in line..). On our way there, members of the group were describing how scrumptious everything was, how they frequent the place at least once a week, and how it is so amazing, no other restaurant could ever compare. Their recommended dish? The panaeng…which, funny enough, is my absolute favorite peanut and red curry based dish (yummiest with tofu!).
Intrigued, I take my seat. In front of me was the long menu, each page containing pictures of each individual dish, with a short description. With a galore of meat based dishes, the weak selection of only two tofu main courses (both stir fries) was just plain sad. I did however ask, whether is were possible to replace tofu with the meat in the curries, which the waitress said they can do, but only for 1 Fr. more. At an average of 19 Fr. per dish,the price wasn’t too shabby, but since I wasn’t familiar with the dishes, I didn’t know if it were worth the extra Franc. What’s more, if you want rice, it’s another 3 Fr. increase…
Due to my hopeless love for Nagasui’s Panaeng, I decided against unnecessary disappointment (I have so far only found one restaurant that makes better Panaeng than my usual place!) and went for a tofu, vegetable and cashew nut stir fry and a Som Tam (papaya salad.)
When it comes to papaya salad, I am also very stuck-up and spoiled. Nagasui (and their sister restaurant Tiffins) honestly have gotten the recipe down to a ‘t’. Even my father says that no other restaurant prepares this refreshing salad, as deliciously as Nagasui. Knowing this, I still wanted something green with my meal, and after checking if the sauce contained fish sauce (which it doesn’t), I dug in.
It was good, but not great..The peanuts they used were sweet (weird?!) and the tomatoes really soggy. Also, for the 18 Fr. I paid, I would have expected a generous portion. Instead, I received barely enough…
After a long wait, my second course came:
Also not the biggest portion in the world, but combined with my starter, I left the restaurant just satisfied. The stir fry sauce was o.k – a Sweet Chili Sauce watered down with the addition of mirin and soy sauce – and the vegetables were cooked just right. Being a tofu lover, I enjoy a huge portion of tofu, which this, sadly, was not. My favorite part was probably the roasted cashew nuts…
After seeing the Panaeng that the others ordered, I stopped complaining (to myself!) about my dish, because the curry looked sooooooo oily that I knew I had made the right choice to stick with my instincts after all..I love a dense and creamy Panaeng, not a watery, weird-looking one, where the coconut milk in is has separated..
All in all it was o.k. I went home still not understanding why it is so popular. While I was there, I looked around and noticed a plethora of Swiss clientele, with the majority of them ordering a red coconut curry soupy thing with rice. Either it’s that dish that I was missing out on, or the Swiss have a limited list of restaurants to compare this place to and therefore think it’s the best..Who knows?! All I know is that I will definitely be remaining a regular at Nagasui and have yet to find a similar, or better, place to eat!
And with that, I wish you a bon appétit (it’s lunch time here!).
Question of the day:
Do you have an absolute favorite dish that you can only eat a certain restaurant? Do you try this dish at various restaurants, or stick to your one favorite place?
Growing up, we would regularly eat Indian food. My favorite at the time was Saag paneer or Paneer Makhani. We frequently varied the restaurants we visited and I would only order those 2 dishes in hopes of finding the best. My relationship to Panaeng and Som Tam are completely different though. I’m not as adventurous anymore because I’ve been disappointed by the dish numerous times, so I try to avoid ordering them, unless I’m convinced it will be equally tasty..