Memorial Day Dinner At Surin

Oh beautiful for spacious skies / for Thai food made o.k.

Memorial Day is a secular Yom Kippur, a day of mourning without the fasting. We honor those who perished at war by toasting on the beach or by floating in a pool. Memorial Day is a serious holiday.

Perhaps most notably, Memorial Day is a day when many restaurants close, posting signs in their windows: “Closed For Memorial Day.” This allows employees to toast on the beach or float in a pool while patrons go hungry. Happy Memorial Day!

I don’t mean to be glib. For those with loved ones in Iraq or veterans in the family, Memorial Day is indeed a serious holiday. But might we not concede that I’m hungry? And everywhere is closed?

One place that is not closed is Surin, in the Virginia Highlands:


There is an abundance of Thai food here in Atlanta. I had never even eaten Thai food before I came here seven years ago, but since that time I’ve practically become a plate of steaming ginger chicken, I’ve eaten so much of it. Bok bok bok.

In the Virginia Highlands alone, there is Surin and then Surin Thai Bowl (a second restaurant in Surin’s backyard), Mai Lai on Amsterdam and then another outdoorsy one also in Surin’s backyard. But that’s just the tip of the Thaisberg: there’s the punny Thai One On, the hotter-than-hot Thai Chili, the Thai place in the Kosher Supermarket shopping center, the other Thai place near Ru San’s. I’m telling you: if you’re planning a trip to Thailand, divert your plane to Atlanta and save some money.

But don’t–I’m sorry to say–rush over to Surin. The food was, in my humble opinion, pretty lacklustre. I should have known when I saw pictures of the food in the menu. Your restaurant will automatically lose 14 points in my calculations if you put pictures of the food in your menu. That is tacky. That is what they do in European truck stops. Have some class people and trust your diners.

As far as everything else, we started out with basil rolls:


And these were fine. The plum sauce was helpful.

But then, for my entree, there was the ginger chicken:


Something about it really rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve eaten ginger chicken across Atlanta, and this was my least favorite version. The chicken was steamed, I think, before it was cooked with the ginger and the assembly tasted very-last-minute. Meaning, the ginger flavor hardly carried and the only unifying factor was the watery sludgy ginger chicken sauce that coated everything.

Lauren, on the other hand, adored her chicken: “I think the chicken’s great, she said.” She ordered a different dish but her chicken was almost identical to mine.

“What do you like about it?” I asked.

“There’s no fat,” she responded.

“But fat has flavor,” I retorted.

“Eh,” said Lauren, chewing merrily.

So in conclusion, Surin’s ginger chicken did not pass muster—unless you’re Lauren and you like your chicken fatless and flavorless. Call me old-fashioned, but I like flavor. However, I will concede flavorless and open for business is better than flavorful and closed for the holiday. Happy Memorial Day!

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