I’m fond of the books that are part recipe, part  history. I really do want to know how something appeared, what created this or that recipe. I’m not as thrilled by the chemistry of it all; ironic given my university degree. But these two books tickle both my need for a good recipe and my need for the context of it all.

Robb Walsh is an excellent food historian. In this book he gives a simplified version of his Houston Press articles on Tex Mex and the fajita. In it there are useful charts of meats, some food experiments he tried that works (yes, in a Gene-Jon-Sean-Jimmy kind of way – ever try galbi fajitas?).  But if you’re like me, and write or seriously think about food, you buy what Robb Walsh writes because he cares enough to do his research and  get his story right. He doesn’t pull it out of thin air.

Colleen Taylor Sen’s book is lighter and breezier, a two to three hour read. But there are recipes that go back hundreds of years in this book, varieties of curries probably not easily made today. It covers a lot more of the earth than does Robb’s book, touching  usefully on things like Thai, Dutch and Japanese curries. But the best coverage is of the Indian recipes, what they are, where they come from. It talks about the origin of tandoori chicken, for example and has plenty of colorful photos.

Both recommended. I’d say that Robb’s book is a must read for anyone trying to critique Mexican restaurants in America.

Tastee’s Jamaican Cuisine is a small restaurant in a strip mall one block south of the Highpoint Road-Highway 124 intersection. It sits adjacent to Flame’s Sports Bar and Grill, facing 124. The day I arrived they were smoking their jerk chicken just outside the store.

tastees

Inside, it’s small. There are a few tables, but very few. The menu is scrawled on a whiteboard, there are covered containers of food behind a counter, and on the counter, a heating rack full of patties. They have chicken and beef patties at this place. Patties are cheap, less than $2.00 each. They also have dinner plates, with jerk chicken, oxtail, curried chicken and goat, brown stew chicken and brown stew fish. The dinner plates come in a medium and large size, have peas and rice and vegetables as sides.  Medium plates run about $7 dollars or so and large plates about $9.50 or so.

I was shopping for lunch. My wife only eats patties, so I bought 4 chicken patties and a large plate of curried goat to go. As appealing as the smoked chicken was, I had never had goat and this was an opportunity. We took it home, shared tastes. My daughter had never had goat either and there wasn’t any way she was just eating patties.

Goat is a dark meat, and some compare the taste to lamb or veal.  The curry spices, of course, were the dominant flavors in the dish. The curry was tasty without being too spicy or overpowering. Peas and rice were good, and the mixed vegetables (largely stewed cabbage) were good as well. The patties, in comparison to  Golden Krust, were larger, rounder, and the filling was creamier in texture. The patties had some spicy heat, which wasn’t immediately obvious but would creep up on you later.

Verdict: good first impression, recommended for now. It is inexpensive, as patties are cheap and filling. I will need to go back sometime and try their home smoked chicken.

Tastee’s Jamaican Cuisine
2671 Centerville Hwy
Snellville, GA 30078
(678) 344-7004

Tastee's Jamaican Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sri Thai is a Thai food and sushi restaurant right on the corner of Scenic Highway (124) and Highway 78, in the same strip mall as Provino’s Italian Restaurant, Books for Less, and the Snellville Diner. It follows an older Thai restaurant that wasn’t as successful and perhaps is haunted by the older restaurant’s lack of success. I know I avoided it in part for that reason, and also in part because Danthai, which is very close to me, is better than their predecessor. But I snuck into this place for lunch, recently, just to see if that was a true impression or just a lingering prejudice.

The inside of the restaurant is prettier than I recall, and the waiters are dressed all in black. The place is a little small, and probably couldn’t handle a huge crowd. The menu they present has two sides, one a side with Japanese dishes and another a side with Thai dishes. The bento (lunch) boxes looked good, with picture of various sushi rolls and good looking slices of sashimi. I know they are advertising $1 sushi specials, and while those aren’t bad, the fish tends to get awfully thin in dollar sushi.

It’s also not unusual to have the Thai food/Japanese food pairing. The restaurant Wild Ginger, off Savoy Road, does the same. I’ve been relatively outspoken about my Japanese preferences, so I didn’t want to explore that in this restaurant. I wanted a simple curry and wanted to see how the meal went.

My daughter was with me. She had the basil roll. I ordered a masaman curry, with beef. Masaman is a milder curry with coconut milk, and is particularly good with beef and cashews. It stores well and ages well. And my favorite place to get it was the now closed “Bites”, where Eric, the cook/owner, went out of his way to make the food both look and taste good.

Imagine my surprise when I get my dish and it comes out looking great. This is not exotic food in Thailand, and serves a role similar to mom’s beef stew. But they went the extra mile to make the dish look fantastic. It tasted good too. The serving size was appropriate for lunch and the price – $7.50 as I recall – was reasonable.

Service was complicated slightly by language issues. Some of the staff had some trouble with things I said, and were probably new to English. Otherwise I had no problem with service.

To end, we had their mango ice cream (with cooked banana, wrapped in pastry), and it was as good looking as the curry.

Verdict? This is hardly a test of how they operate during peak dinner hours. I came in during a quiet period at lunch. But what I saw was promising, and I’d go back again, to find out if they stand up to a dinner crowd.

Sri Thai on Urbanspoon

It’s an unpretentious place in an almost deserted mall. It’s located west of the intersection of Five Forks and Oak Road, a bit south of the Sonic drive-in.   I only found it because I was hungry waiting for my daughter and drove past. Later I would drop by when I had to take care of myself.

This place, in my opinion, is the best Thai in Snellville. And checking out review sites such as Yelp, I’m not the only one who thinks so. The restaurant is a bit of a “mom and pop” place, and so the service isn’t going to be instant. But the waiter will listen to you, adjust your seasonings if you ask. If you want things spicy though, you’ll need to insist. Most Thai places tone down the hot stuff to the milder Atlanta tastes.

I’m especially fond of the cucumber salad they serve. The dressing is light and it’s a great summer appetizer. Otherwise, I tend to eat one of the several curry dishes they serve (I used to favor green curries, but I’m partial to masaman curries these days), while my wife tends to Pad Thai when she’s there.

Strictly speaking, the formal address is one in Lawrenceville, just it’s far closer to the heart of Snellville, in actuality. To get here, take the Five Forks exit off Ronald Reagan and head south. At Oak Road, turn right. It will be in the strip mall to your left.

Danthai on Urbanspoon