May 31, 2010

Summer, Summer escorts Hodo into the Thai Scene

We all love Thai food here on Team Hodo. And until recently, the only time we got to enjoy our tofu in professionally prepared Thai dishes was when our chefs made it for team lunch.

That changed when Emeryville's Summer, Summer refreshed their local, organic menu and began providing the option for every dish to be made with Hodo tofu! Restauranteur Oranuch Chatsrinopakun says that almost 40% of her customers are vegetarian. "They can taste a difference with your tofu."

Summer, Summer is a boutique Thai restaurant holding up the Hollis and 59th corner of one of Emeryville's larger office buildings. Decorated with reclaimed wooden shutters ($50 from Urban Ore!) reminiscent of traditional Thai houses, and gold leaf designs resembling the decor of Thai temples, Chatsrinopakun created an elegant Thai atmosphere.

Unlike most Bay Area Thai Restaurants, which serve only central Thai dishes, Summer Summer serves food from many parts of the country, including Kao Soi (Northern), Nam Tok Nuer (Northeastern), and Padpet seafood (Southern). Executive Chef Eric Sansangasakun expertly prepares humanely-raised meats, fresh fish and Hodo tofu in a variety of soup, wrap, noodle, wok, curry, and grill dishes. He and Chatsrinopakun frequently collaborate to create new options inspired by their clientele's interests. For example, Curry a Trois was designed to introduce customers new to Thai curries to 3 of Thailand's finest: Kang Gari Kai with organic chicken, Kang Kiew Wan Neur with short ribs, and Panang with Hodo tofu.

Every day, a work crowd gathers for lunch and Happy Hour, and every night, the condo neighbors congregate for dinner. I visited for the first time last Saturday and was surprised that even during Memorial Day weekend, Summer, Summer had a good-sized dinner crowd. Chatsrinopakun explained to me why she chose this neighborhood: "I live in Berkeley and there are tons of Thai restaurants there, no one place is my favorite. Emeryville has no Thai restaurants [except the Thai stall at Public Market]. This is a city of young families, very hip, trendy and growing."

Named after Thailand's two seasons, Summer, Summer is known for making simple, yet fantastically flavorful dishes. One of their signature dishes is Miang-kam, an appetizer with fresh spinach, Thai chili, fresh ginger, shallots, cashew nuts and tamarind sauce. I tried the Kang Daeng Tofu, and found this red curry perfectly
spicy and light. The expertly fried tofu had a wonderful texture and worked well with the bamboo shoots and ginger. It was served with Summer, Summer's signature purple-colored rice, a scrumptious combination of Thai Jasmine brown rice and Thai black sticky rice.

I can't wait to return soon with some Hodoheads or Hodo fans. They will be thrilled by the wide variety of dishes served with our tofu!