Adventures in Eating & Cooking
10/30: Popiah w/ Peanut Plum Sauce: The description of this appetizer was deceiving. We had initially thought this was a seafoody spring roll, only to find a fresh, cabbage strips stuffed within a thin papery roll. The roll itself was a bit underwhelming, but the peanut plum sauce added a nice touch of flavor. I think it was mostly hoisin sauce mixed with some peanut bits.
Ol Gaht, Eggplant Purée of Burma: served w/ naan & fresh vegetables. Wowww… This was really salty… but also delicious! The roasted eggplant shrimp paste was both flavorful and aromatic. Because it was so intense, the Ol Gaht was too strong and salty to be eaten by naan alone. Rather, it was most appealing tucked beneath a fresh cucumber atop the naan, allowing for a balance of the heavy taste. Definitely one of the better appetizers at Spice Island.
Gulnarnarnar’s Java Fried Rice, highly recommended by our mutual friend Diksha. I stole a bite of this and it was delicious. Very savory w/ strips of egg and yummy tofu stirred together. Not sure why it’s called java because I’m pretty sure there is no coffee flavoring added. Rather, it’s a soy-sauce based fried rice w/ some extra spices thrown in. Mostly salty, soy-saucy taste, the Java Fried Rice tastes pretty similar to my mom’s fried rice when she adds soy sauce.
Bassant’s Chicken Curry was really delicious, but also pretty salty (a common theme of Spice Island). Warm, cozy, and spicy w/ generous chunks of chicken and potatoes. Can’t go wrong with curry on a cold autumn night.
Rachel’s Gutgyi Gut (Southern Burmese Noodle) was probably the most memorable dish of the night. Thick chewy flat noodles stir-fried with beef, shrimp, and bean sprouts in a delicious chili oil vinaigrette. I think it must have been the vinaigrette that left a slight almost citric aftertaste that was quite refreshing and pleasant. You would think a sour aftertaste would be weird but it actually added depth to the already yummy chili oil.
Last but not least, I ordered the Indonesian Festival Fried Rice. To be honest, this dish was nothing special – just rice stir-fired in coconut milk and spices. It was actually a pretty standard Asian fried rice dish, something I think I could have whipped up at home. I think the coconut milk and fresh vegetables gave off the illusion of being something exotic, but it really wasn’t. From my experience here, I’m guessing that Spice Island specializes more in Burmese dishes (or maybe it’s because I’m least familiar with Burmese cuisine). I must say that I enjoyed the two Burmese plates we ordered the most, so I would love sample more Burmese dishes if I come back!