Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ty Fun Gives Us Authentic Thai Food to Play With

It all started New Year's Day. A mutual friend had invited a bunch of us to a late lunch at Wonton Gourmet in Asiatown. Among the diners at our table were Chef/Restauranteur Sunny Tingpatana and his partner, Greg Binford. Sunny was charmed with our love for authentic Asian cuisine, and bemoaned the reality that he could not serve truly authentic Thai cuisine at his Tremont restaurant, Ty Fun. He then offered to prepare an authentic Thai dinner for us - we said "yes" so fast I think it may have made his head spin!

So - on a recent Monday night, 10 of us convened for a mostly off-the-menu feast of Thai delights. This was a dinner where you ate what was served and didn't ask "what's in that" - and if you were one of us, you loved every bite! 

I had never been to Ty Fun, but had heard nothing but praise. I was delighted to learn that the Tremont eatery has its own [free] parking lot, and a full liquor license. It it small, but that only adds to the warmth of the place. There is also a small outdoor patio for better weather. A charming spot to indulge in Asian food fun!

Father's Chicken Wings

This dish is not on the Ty Fun menu, but it ought to be! Tender chicken wings were expertly seasoned and fried, then served with fresh cilantro and a red colored glaze that Chef Sunny said was his father's recipe.


Minced Pork in Lettuce Cups With Sticky Rice


This cold mince, to be wrapped in fresh lettuce with rice, is similar to staple dishes served throughout Asia. This version was an authentic Thai presentation of the dish - the mince included pork liver and tripe that was so tender, it was, to my palate, more of a textural element than a taste. Though this definitely tasted different than similar dishes I've had. We scarfed it down, not knowing about all of the "authentic" ingredients until after, and enjoying every bite. I wish this dish could be on the menu for you all to try!

Thai Sticky Rice

This was served with the lettuce wraps; a less sticky Jasmine rice came with the entrees.

Next up was a soup course:

Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

This mild, but intensely flavored broth featured a "dumpling" made from soaked bittermelon as the "skin" and a pork-based filling. Though bittermelon isn't my favorite, this all worked together to make a memorable dish. It also was intended to be, and was, a marvelous palate cleanser from the spicy appetizers.

The next round of dishes hit the rectangular tables fast and furious.

Duck and Eggplant in Yellow Curry 

This dish had two types of eggplant (Thai and Indian), in addition to exquisitely cooked boneless duck. Just because the duck was boned didn't mean it lacked any flavor - all of the skin and other ducky goodness was included with the perfectly cooked eggplant and savory curry. Yum.

Rad Na (Beef, Vegetables, Wide Rice Noodles)

Gloppy rice noodles make me so happy! But I was already getting so full - I only tasted a bit of this tasty dish. Lots of garlic, chewy noodles, perfectly cooked meat and vegetables - another yum!

Pla Rad Prig (Red Snapper With Sweet and Spicy Garlic Chili Sauce)

This item is available on the regular menu and is highly recommended. If you are not squeemish about working through a whole fish, you will be well rewarded by great tastes and textures.

Pad Tofu ( Crisp Tofu With Vegetables)

The pressed tofu had a dense, meaty texture - I really liked this dish. The sauce caressed freshly stir fried vegetables for a memorable dish.

Minced Chicken with Red Pepper, Onion, String Beans and Basil Leaves in Chili Garlic Sauce 

There is a version of this dish on the regular menu - but with sliced, rather than minced chicken. Americans seem to have an issue with minced, as opposed to sliced meats. But this version suited our party just fine - with a healthy hit of red pepper, and amazingly crisp February green beans.

 Sunny confessed after we'd tasted everything that he'd still hesitated to "bring it on" completely. Still, the smile on his face was priceless - this was "his" food, which so many local folks might find a bit adventurous for their taste (and that's ok). Our intrepid band geniunely enjoyed and appreciated it, while also appreciating that not everyone else in our neighborhood would. No worries - the menu items are gently tailored to bring out wonderful flavors with comfortable ingredients.

Knowing that one of our group especially faced constant frustration with the way Asian-American restaurants "dumb down" the spice level in their food, Sunny sent out a dish of this condiment to that particular diner:

Prik Nam Pla (Sliced bird's eye peppers with fish sauce)

This condiment offered amazingly tasty fire - the table needed another dish of it because so many of us were using so much of it! Sunny gave us the "heads up" - if you ask for "hot sauce" in a Thai restaurant - you will NOT get prik man pla - you have to ask for it by name. Those are chili seeds you see - and that is why!

I always knew that I was missing out on something special by not getting to Ty Fun - I just didn't realize how much of how special! So - thank you Sunny and Greg for making this dinner possible. And the "regular" menu looks perfectly tasty also. I can't wait to return and dive in!

So yet another wonderful spot is added to our Tremont list - how to patronize them all?? Still - if you are looking to tingle your palate with dazzling Asian flavors - a visit to Ty Fun is certainly in order, to Ty one on and play with marvelous textures and tastes.

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