Hi, my name’s Natalie, and I’m a picky eater. (Cue the group welcome from the interwebs) Mushrooms, no way. Onions, only if I can’t detect their crunch. Tomatoes, only in sauce or cleverly hidden in a sandwich. I’ve pretty much always been this way with certain foods and textures. I usually just pick around whatever it is I
hate don’t care for. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at being more open to food. It’s not an easy process.
For my birthday, my family and friend Charise took me out to lunch at one of my top five restaurants in Napa, Mini Mango Thai Bistro. Funny thing about this restaurant: it was the restaurant that made me fall in love with Thai food! See, not only am I a picky eater, I’m also a newbie Thai food fan. During my enlightenment period in college, I constantly refused offers of going out to Thai food for lunch, dinner, a midnight snack, made by my friends. My family would offer to take me out to Thai restaurants in Napa, and I would scowl, and ask to go to sushi instead. Sounds pretty contrasting to being “enlightened”, doesn’t it? I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t until the semester before my travels abroad in Europe that I finally began giving food I once considered “weird” or “creepy” (yes, food can be creepy!) a try. One such occasion brought me to and had me falling in love with Thai food.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we?
Mini Mango is located in downtown Napa and is a quaint little restaurant with both inside and covered patio seating. About a year and a half ago while visiting home, my mother took me out to lunch for my fabulous first Thai attempt, despite my concern I’d hate it. Because I had no experience with Thai food, she suggested I order something called Jade Curry and she would order the Yes! Indeed Pad Thai. Both of these names suggested nothing to me as to what to expect. I reviewed the menu: the Jade Curry consisted of prawns & chicken breast, green curry sauce simmered, veggies, basil, steamed rice noodles– didn’t sound too bad. So, I ordered it (sans prawns, as I hate shrimp!). The Yes! Indeed Pad Thai was described as rice noodles, prawns, tamarind, tofu, egg, chives, sprouts, lime, peanuts. I figured between the two, I could manage to eat something. When the server brought my bowl of rice noodles covered in a light green curry and filled with fresh veggies and pieces of chicken, I couldn’t help but dive in, fork first. The veggies (broccoli– my fave, green beans, and carrot chunks) are still slightly crispy, adding a lovely texture to the noodles and curry. The chicken is far from bland with its light seasoning and perfectly bite-sized pieces. Needless to say, I fell in love with Thai food and left my bowl empty. The rest, as they say, is history.
Let me pause the story at hand for a moment to share with you a fact: the sauce with the pot stickers is phenomenal. Not just “oh, this is great sauce!” No, I sat at that table and pondered what could possibly go into such a sauce. And then, I shamelessly (and repeatedly) dipped my finger into the sauce bowl in an attempt at figuring out what was in this sauce. I came up with some sort of vinegar, ginger, garlic, soy, and possibly honey. Turns out I was close! I asked the server and she said rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sweet soy sauce (the saltiness and the sweet flavors!). I will definitely get the pot stickers again!
Anyway.. I should also mention that I paired the 2008 Clos du Val Chardonnay with the Jade Curry and it was delish! As I stated before, I usually can’t finish my whole entree if appetizers are involved. So I took my small portion of leftovers to go. I also need to apologize for not taking pictures of everyone else’s food; I was too consumed in my consuming 🙂
Update: In mid 2014, Mini Mango closed their Pearl Street restaurant. I was heartbroken that I wasn’t going to get my fill of Jade Curry, until they opened a new location on Main Street. The new restaurant goes by Mango on Main, is owned by the same family, and features the same delicious Jade Curry. Try them out!