One Great Tacoma Dish
Miang Kum at Galanga Thai Cuisine
By Robert Ettlinger
Sharing a meal with family or friends is one of life’s oldest and greatest pleasures, until it comes time to agreeing on what appetizers the table will order at a restaurant. Without a skilled negotiator, satisfying everyone’s food preferences can make sharing as impossible as agreeing to which radio station to play in the car. Uncle Dave can’t have anything fried, (he’d be torn by the Coconut Prawn), Harriet won’t eat anything with gluten, (she’d balloon with the Crab Rangoon), and Melissa’s gone vegan, (she’d go astray with the Chicken Satay). Isn’t there anything we can all eat together?
Yes, there is. Take the crowd down to Galanga Thai Cuisine and everyone can be creative and cater to their own particular food quirks with Miang Kum, (which can also be spelled Miang Kham). This interactive appetizer means “One Bite Wrap,” but unless your table includes more than ten eaters everyone will have multiple bites. This traditional Thai dish is usually eaten as a snack in between meals and was originally served to the Thai King to calm his appetite while either lunch or dinner was still being prepared. This makes it a perfect appetizer, and one everyone can agree on, but I have been able to find it in Tacoma only at Galanga Thai Cuisine.
The experience begins with a chaphlu leaf, which is a deep emerald-green heart-shaped leaf which becomes the satchel carries your hand-picked gatherings to your mouth. Your server will provide a quick demonstration on the proper technique of folding the leaf to contain the goodies, of which there are eight to choose from. Except for the tiny, briny, dried shrimp vegans can avoid, all the other colorful fillings are vegetarian and burst with a spectrum of flavors. Choosing between eight items to wrap in your leaf using any or all gives 256 possible combinations of your “One Bite Wrap.” If someone still complains that they can’t compose a bite to their liking they should be excused from further adventures in eating out in the future.
Each component of this dish is carefully prepared and perfectly proportioned to mesh with the others. Like horses in a carousel, each morsel is colorful, joyous and rings around the central sauce. You have to choose which horses you will take for the ride. The stable includes toasted crunchy coconut shavings, aromatic roasted peanuts, minute lime slices thin to the point of transparency, tiny cubes of mild ginger, slivers of chopped shallot, those miniature crackly shrimp, very finely sliced Thai peppers, (watch out for the heat!), and compatible with it all, Kum sauce, (again made in house with palm sugar and intensely minced ginger and galanga root). Everything is bright, tingly and delicious alone or together; discover your own personal combination.
Co-owners Yim and Ted Kenney are rightfully proud of this dish and point out their exacting effort to keep it authentic. Rather than spinach or lettuce leaves for the wrap they get branches of chaplu from which Yim carefully selects, harvests and washes each leaf. The coconut shavings and the peanuts are both roasted in house to the proper crunch. Each vegetable is diced to proportion so that they will fit within the leaf and not predominate over the others, and no short cuts with honey or extracts are taken in preparation of the sauce which is thick enough to cling to any component.
Yim and Ted’s restaurant has many other Thai favorites to chose as an entree once you’ve had fun with the Miang Kum, ($12.50). They are particularly fond of their Three Flavor Fish, ($23.95), Drunken Noodles and Pad See Iew, (both $11.95-$13.95), as well as their Thai Basil Green Beans, ($12.95-$14.95).
Galanga Thai Cuisine is located at 1129 Broadway, Tacoma. Call
What is your One Great Tacoma Dish? Write the author, Robert Ettlinger, at firstname.lastname@example.org.