For the past 10 years, diners have been shoveling Erawan’s Thai fare. But when Vara Chieosamut took over the reins six months ago, he transformed the menu to organic. His goal is to have a 100 percent organic menu, although out-of-season veggies are often hard to find. Currently, about 80 percent is organic, including all of the salads, pastas and most of the vegetables. Even brands of organic wine and beer rest behind the bar, like Scotland’s Kelpie Seaweed Ale. Chieosamut says although organic ingredients demand higher prices, he tries to keep the menu priced reasonably. Some longtime customers, he says, have passed on Erawan’s slightly higher organic rates, but some in-town diners make the trek for his culinary niche.
The meal begins with a plateload of deep-fried tofu triangles and a side of sweet and sour sauce with tiny peanut bits floating inside. As personal dining guilt goes, the healthiness of tofu cancels out the fried aspect, which is light to begin with. And the pleasant, homey flavor further negates any concern. But the tempura-battered fried coconut shrimp proves heavier. The coconut flavor comes off as slightly muted, but the crunchy treats are fun to grab by hand. The tart touch of lime accentuates the chicken larb salad. Cooks scramble the minced meat with scallions, roasted rice powder and hot chili. A nearly stark white cabbage wedge buddies next door.
A dessert of mango slices and sweet sticky rice in coconut cream brings an additional chill to the mild combustion the entree left behind. With a full gullet and machismo intact, it’s easy to admire Chieosamut’s mission and Erawan’s charming results.
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