Tag Archives: thai food in Merida

The Casual Restaurant Critic meets The Thai Flasher

Way out in the far reaches of the expanses of ocean front property and ocean front wannabe property, there is a small gringo-run restaurant called Progreso Pastas. Or rather, there was a restaurant called Progreso Pastas but since the owners decided to take a break and go to Thailand for a while, a new owner came along and took over the place and guess what kind of cuisine he is offering? Oh. You read the title of this article already.

The Critic was sitting in his office, mindfully minding his own business when what on the computer screen should appear, but a man and a dog in the form of video star Erich Briehl interviewing Chris Zimmermann (of The Sean Hennessy Theater fame) who is the man behind the Facebook phenomenon Thai Flash which brought the concept of flash mobbing and Thai food together at predetermined times and places in Merida. Chris has opened the Thai Flash restaurant in Progreso (just off the road to Chicxulub, actually) and the Critic suddenly became very very hungry.

A quick drive out to the temporadista-infested coast and after briefly losing his bearings, the Critic found what he was looking for. Unfortunately he found it too soon – at 5 PM the place was still being set up and so the Critic went for a drive around the area, taking photos of flamingoes and trying not to get crashed into by gangs of pre-teens on four wheel drive off road ATV’s barreling along the sandy byroads around Chicxulub. This is where the money is so the kids are white and blond, while further inland – just a few rows of houses in fact – the populace becomes significantly darker and the ATV’s vanish to be replaced by the occasional horse or good old foot power.

Finally it was 6 PM and the Critic again got lost trying to find Chris’s Thai emporium. At last, and finding a parking spot on the street behing a car with plates from Texas and across the street from another with Manitoba plates, the Critic was in and ready to order. Only gringos occupied two other tables in what used to be the house’s garage which has been turned into a small dining area with some rather pretty Thai lamps at one end.

A new waitress, freshly installed and featuring a southern accent (not Peto; Texas) took the Critics order while a local celebrity from the world of real estate, completely over qualified for the job, manned the bar with ease and prepared the house specialty: a lemon grass Mojito. This drink is the best Mojito the Critic has had in Merida, as most places overdo the soda, others the sugar and usually the plant ie the mint, is flavorless and too subdued. This lemon grass version, invented by the Thai Flasher himself, is deliciously refreshing and dangerous because before you know it you will have drained your glass and picked out all the green stuff and ordered another, only then realizing that each of those Mojitos pack an alcoholic punch!

The Tom Yum soup is a work in progress and the recipe is still being tweaked to get it just right. The spice is there, the veggies and coconut milk too, but there is a little something missing and that is being worked on. Probably even as you read this, dear reader!

The Pad Thai however, has been perfected and due to a small snafu with the ordering process, the Critic had his with peanut sauce, which apparently is not always the norm. This Pad Thai, with fresh sprouts on top and plenty of Tofu and veggie goodness, will feed a small family, tastes as good as any Pad Thai the Critic has had and is extremely satisfying. Highly recommended. There was no room for the curry and so that will have to be eaten on another occasion, perhaps with the Better Half.

There was no room for dessert either but Chris graciously invited the Critic to a Thai Iced Coffee. Slightly sweet and served on the rocks, it was a perfect way to finish off the meal.

How to find the place you ask? If you are coming from Chicxulub along what is Calle 29 (please don’t bother memorizing this, the whole beachfront area is far too rustic to have signposts with street names or numbers on them) you are basically SOL as there is precious little in the way of markers to indicate a right turn onto Calle 32. Keep in mind that if you hit Progreso you have gone too far. Pass the parque, an optimistically-named area devoid of houses and featuring a tree or three and some shack-y constructions. Continue on for a few more blocks and hope for the best. If you make it up to the other one way street running from Progreso to Chicxulub and you hit the end of the wall of the Neek Kaan condos, you are in the right place so back up and look for a cross street.

Confused? You should be. Here is their Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/285262688201534/

That should help. Contact them and have them explain it to you!

 

Driving Instructions – Baca

So. You are all packed and ready to go on a trip to Baca.

OK, OK. You are not packed, you are just hungry and want to see if that Thai place you heard about was open. This is what you do:

Take the Periferico, that 4 lane beltway that stretches 42 kilometers around the formerly white city and serves as a racetrack for those kids lucky enough to have daddies that buy them a BMW for their 16th birthday (pobres, se lo ganaron) and drive until you see the exit marked Motul or Tizimin. This is where you will get off, and go in the direction of Motul.

Passing different turnoffs, you remain on this road, oblivious to the cars piling up behind you as you toodle along; let them pass, the shoulder is nice and wide and you can keep driving along it as the cars zoom past on their way to their respective destinations and destinies. What you are looking for is a highway sign in green marked ‘Mococha’. This is the name of a town, BTW. Once you see it, scoot over into your left hand lane and make that turn.

This new, smaller road will lead you to what once was the only highway, now a small country road. You turn right at the T and follow along until you reach the next town, which is: Baca. Slow down (as if you have choice: Baca, like all Yucatecan towns has its share of speed bump topes) and keep a sharp eye on your left for a large, large property that features large (giant, actually) flat rocks built standing up into the walls, which feature dabs of yellow paint that becomes increasingly more prevalent as you drive along. There is an entrance right off the main road, this is NOT the entrance to the restaurant area.

Keep driving until you reach the confluence of a small shrine to the Virgen, a Clinica run by the IMSS and and probably a tope. This is where you will turn left onto a gravel road (Virgin on your left, clinica on your right) which you will follow until it curves, which is where you will find a small gate, a gatekeeper and hopefully he will let you in to visit the restaurant.

Hopefully this helps those interested in visiting this place which seems to the Critic anyway, highly unusual. A place for real Thai food in Baca. Who would have thought…

Yet another Yucatan church - Baca, Yucatan

Thai food in Merida at last? No, but…

This past weekend was quite a culinary-intensive experience, with Friday night at Elio al Mare, Saturday night at Rosas y Xocolate and, in between, an extremely pleasant and totally unexpected surprise for lunch. Lovers of exotic food rejoice, because this is a good one.

It turns out that the Casual Restaurant Critics brother in law found out about a Thai restaurant in, of all places, Baca. The Critic knows this is hard to believe, but it is true, there is a place where one can eat real, authentic Thai food made by a Thai chef in the bustling town of Baca. Located on the grounds of a holistic health center, you will find yourself on a covered deck made entirely of bamboo. Look up, look around, everything including the roof, is made of bamboo. Only the tables and chairs are dark teak. There is no electric power as the place is on solar cells and therefore the restaurant portion, open on a limited basis to the public, is only accessible during daylight hours and only until 3 PM at that. And for those of you that like to take picture of your food (which includes the Critic) you will be out of luck as no cameras and no cell phones are allowed to be used on the site. Smoking of course is also forbidden.

BIL had ordered food beforehand and so, once the party of 11 was seated, real, freshly prepared Thai food started arriving at the table. First off, a ginger tea/lemonade combination that was deliciously refreshing. Then, the Critics favorite Thai soup:  ต้มข่าไก่.

OK that was unfair.

The soup is called, in English, Tom Kha Gai and the temperature, the flavors, the aroma were all exquisite. Next up, a small appetizer plate with a spring roll cut in half alongside a grilled satay chicken kabob. There was a plum sauce for dipping, as well as very spicy black sauce and some toasted garlic to add an additional kick to the dishes.

After the appetizers, plates for the center appeared with a rice noodle dish, a rice dish, chicken in a coconut milk curry sauce and finally shrimp with snow peas. The Critic couldn’t get enough of everything and hardly had room for dessert, which also arrived promptly at the table in the shape of creamy Arroz con Leche paired with chopped, fresh, tart mango chunks. Coffee, strong and black, was also available.

Interesting, this humble bamboo deck in the middle of the town of Baca, had better service than most of the restaurants in Merida. The service was prompt, attentive, and courteous. Most impressive of all was that for each course, the ladies at the table were served first, without exception, then the men. A small detail perhaps but nevertheless one that the so-called finer restaurants in the formerly white city have not been able to master.

Unfortunately, the Critic doesn’t know what the bill came to on this occasion, being as he was a guest, but whatever it is, it’s worth it. This is the real deal. Neither is there an address. Please contact the Critic directly for instructions on how to get there.

S’Tai Restaurant – Review by Chris

Hi William. I check out your reviews whenever I’m looking for some place decent to eat out in Merida. We’ve been curious about S*Tai for a long time and finally went last night. Have you been there and did you review it? I didn’t see a review if you did.

We were pleasently surprised – very nice tuna encrusted with black sesame appetizer (but small – order something additional if you’re hungry,) chicken with green curry – overly spicey and salty BUT edible. Last but not least – a delicious Pad Thai (with pretty hefty grilled shrimp) – that was the highlight of the night. It was the one thing we ate that pretty much hit the mark on authentic thai cuisine.

The decors is nice, modern, very loungy and comfortable. Typcial yucatecan service…..after carefully reviewing the menu and the special card that was laid on the table, we were ready to order and ordered the scallops that were on the special card. Of course – they were out of scallops – something the waiter should have mentioned when he laid the special card on the table. Lots of waiters and bus boys walking around but no one got around to cleaning the wet noodles off of the table and we had to track people down whenever we needed anything additional (like a glass of water.) We were the ONLY table in the restraurant – you’d think that they would have been more attentive to our needs. Oh well……can’t have EVERYTHING!

Chris