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By Steven Li on 2005-10-19

October 18, 2005

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First off, I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures. It’s a shame really, my camera just wasn’t cooperating with me the other night! But I had to post them becuase it was such an awesome meal. A friend of my uncle took us out to Thai Paradise in San Gabriel. We arrived there around 7:30 on a Friday night and had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The place was busy, but the turnover was pretty quick. The meal started off with a cold and very spicy beef salad ($7.95). Lettuce with plenty of beef marinated in a sticky, fiery sauce was complemented by the usual tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, basil leaves and a good dose of chili and lime juice. Though I would have preferred to have the beef warm, the salad itself was excellent. One of those dishes where you hate it because it burns your mouth with the heat but it’s so good you just keep on eating and eating.
We also orderd the Crab Fried Rice ($9.95) and Seafood Pad Thai ($9.95). Gah. I’ve never had such good fried rice in a looooong time! A huge portion of rice fried with eggs, green onions and tomatoes, it smelled wonderful and tasted even better. The crab (a very generous amount!) was fried separately with eggs and then piled on top of the rice. The dish was just moist enough and bursting with flavor from the combination of onions, crab (and I suspect a good dose of shoyu…hehehe) I nearly finished it all on my own. More more! The pad thai was just as good if one could overlook the fact that the noodles were a bit overcooked. The dish wasn’t borderline sugary, like how most Thai restaurants make these noodles, but leaned on the salty/peanutty side with just enough sweet to balance it out.

Can’t remember the name of this dish but it was my least favorite because the fish was really overcooked. But I appreciate the asthetic value and the little demonstration our waiter did of pouring the soup from a glass bowl over the fish. He said “See? Sizzle!” as he poured, and what could we do but laugh. The whole fish was deep fried and then set atop this contraption so that the soup could be poured over and kept warm. The soup, I believe was simply Tom Yum. Hot and spicy. I like that burn in my belly!
Our final entree was a boiling Coconut Seafood Pot. An assortment of squid, shrimps, scallops, clams, mussels, and a ton of mushrooms (not quite sure why they threw in the mushrooms) was cooked in coconut milk based soup. This was the first time I had a coconut based soup. I didn’t like it very much at first but then the combination of shellfish and a thin fragrant soup slowly grew on me. Does this just mean I’m easy to please? Or maybe it’s becuase I’ve been eating at the college dining hall so often that my standards have gone down (shudder!) That scares me! While working at Alan Wong’s this summer, Chef Alan once explained to the kitchen staff the importance of culturing our tastebuds to higher standards by not subjecting ourselves to ‘crude’ foods. I guess I had been working on that all summer, but once school started many of my food options have been cut short – I hope my standards haven’t fallen! Oh dear. At least I’m aware of it now. Ok. From now on, I will only eat good food. But this post shall not end on a low note because I know our complimentary dessert was fantastic by any standard!
This was the best part of the dinner (it was also free!) Each diner was presented with a small bowl of a traditional Thai dessert: warm coconut jie. My grandma used to make this dish at home all the time. It’s a deceptively simple dessert. Just cook up some black glutinous rice, heat up a can of coconut milk over the stove, throw in a bit of sugar and stir in the rice. It’s like Asian rice pudding (oh, rice puddings, how I love rice puddings!) The restaurant version added small chunks of taro and some beans. With or without the taro and beans, I love it either way.

A decently priced, very delicious, high quality meal – I’m coming back here soon! No more dining hall food for me!

Thai Paradise
909 West Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 570-8887



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