Thursday, December 22, 2011

Circles Thai

1516 Tasker St
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(267) 687-1778

Thai food is lacking in Philadelphia for the most part. When I think of Thai, I don't think upscale, expensive food. I think flavor packed, reasonably priced and somewhat exotically spiced dishes. Circles is apparently coming to Northern Liberties, so I felt it was only proper to make a pilgrimage back to my homeland, down south, to eat at the much adored Point Breeze king of Thai.

One thing that is incredibly strange is the fact that the food at the eat-in place is brought across a Point Breeze alley from the takeout restaurant. They use a strange buzzer system and call the orders over. I suppose I would not have noticed it had there been more than one other group eating-in at the time.

The alley in question below.

So anyway, I ordered the summer rolls (I just love those things), Tom Yum soup (beats chicken noodle for soul satisfaction 10 times out of 10), the chicken satay (meat on a stick is always a winner) and the Pad Thai (for a constant). I assume you can figure out which is which below.

The Tom Yum was probably my favorite thing there. Not to say the other items weren't delicious, but there is something about that soup (when executed properly) that is pure comfort. This was a mighty fine offering. I ordered it hot, and it had a perfect punch to it. Tender pieces of chicken, mushrooms, and the lemongrass/kafir/fish/sauce/ginger/chili pepper broth brought the fermented funkiness that I crave. I need this soup within a couple blocks of me for those days when I need to atone for the previous night's transgressions or am battling a cold (much more likely to be the former than the latter).

The chicken satay was another home run. Rich tumeric really made the nicely charred chicken skewers pack some mean flavor. The deliciously acidic cucumber relish and traditional peanut sauce were perfect partners, though the meat was seasoned enough to stand alone.

The shrimp summer roll was great, not that there is any magic to summer rolls. The shrimp were well-cooked and the sweet chili peanut sauce was like a delicious hoisin dip. +1 on the presentation.

The Pad Thai was the best I have had in Philly, and a steal at $11. There were at least five jumbo shrimp nestled into this heap of noodles, and they were perfectly cooked. Sweet and sour tamarind sauce made for a teeter-totter between flavors working in harmony. A generous helping of crunchy peanuts and crisp bean sprouts rounded out the textural tour de force.

All that I can say is that I am incredibly happy there will be an outpost of this delicious food closer to my neighborhood soon. Especially because I only get down to Point Breeze once a week, and that is too long to go between Thai feasts.

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