If you’re looking for an exciting and affordable new lunch menu, you’ll want to check out the delicious Thai Street Food at Drunken Poet.
One of the most popular Thai and sushi restaurants in town, Drunken Poet has attracted the young, hip set of Sarasota for years. After recently undergoing a makeover of the restaurant’s interior, owner Aporni Punyahotra decided to spice up their menu as well, introducing eight Thai lunch entrees for $9 each. And yes, I had to look up the correct spelling of her name! Suffice it to say, most guests just call her Oy!
We recently joined Chanel 7’s Chef Judi Gallagher and several other foodies for a family style introduction to Thai Street Food ala Drunken Poet. But before we took a bite of even one of the eight new lunch items, Oy sent out two beautiful sushi rolls; the Sexy Man Roll, (tuna, avo, tempura eel and sexy sauce) and Sexy Woman roll, (tempura shrimp, avo, veggie, kani, tempura eel and sexy sauce,) as well as Drunken Poet’s acclaimed Original Lobster Roll.
I think it’s safe to say that Drunken Poet’s Original Lobster Roll is easily one of the most iconic dishes in town. Once you see an order headed to another table, you’re going to want one yourself. This succulent dish uses the entire lobster tail and then serves it in the lobster’s shell, a presentation that is every bit as beautiful as it is delicious.
Representing the Thai side of the menu, we were also treated to an order of Pork Shumai, (one of Mart’s favorites,) and an order of Chicken Satay, which is one of mine. The Shumai were stuffed with ground pork, Shitake mushrooms, water chestnut and scallion, and served with a savory soy-based dipping sauce. These little purses of yumminess were a hit for everyone at the table, the plate returning to the kitchen void of any remaining shumai.
If you’re like me, chicken satay was one of the first Thai dishes I ever tried, and I loved being able to char my own chicken skewers over a tiny open-flame grill/pot they’re typically served on. Our satay was delivered already grilled with a flavorful peanut dipping sauce and crisp cucumbers, which was pretty smart on Drunken Poet’s part. Just imagine 10 people reaching over each other to grill their satay . . . What could possibly go wrong there?
Having shared enough food to call it a meal, it was now time for those of us at the table to “get serious” and focus on why we were gathered at Drunken Poet . . . Thai Street Food.
First on the $9 lunch menu is the Moo Ping with Sticky Rice. This dish features marinated pork skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled to a juicy brown. Having just tried the Chicken Satay, the marinade on the pork was a sweet enhancement, offering an altogether different flavor profile, while keeping the meat moist and juicy.
Our second tasting was the Gai Gratiem/Kao Dao, which, as everyone knows, is garlic chicken with a fried egg on rice. (Ok, so not everyone knows that. . . I looked it up!) Several at our table were pumped up upon seeing this dish. “Put a fried egg on anything, and I’m happy,” one of the local food writers exclaimed, happily sharing the coveted egg with the rest of our table. I have to agree. The snap of the crisp veggies went well with the garlic chicken and fried egg.
It’s my belief that you must have a noodle dish when dining at a Thai restaurant, so I was thrilled to taste Drunken Poet’s Bamee, a noodle dish that can be served “dry,” as shown in the photo, or swimming in stock, which is considered “wet”. A delicate hint of garlic enhanced these moist rice noodles, scoring a culinary hit with everyone at our table. “The Bamee is absolutely the best noodle dish I’ve had in a long time,” was the response of one of the food writers. “I could eat this entire dish by myself.” Oh no, you don’t!
Next up was the Kao Mun Gai, a steamed chicken with a delicious coconut-ginger rice. The chicken was tender and tasty, the coconut and ginger profile of the rice an almost nutty subtle mouthful of flavor. I suspect this will a favorite for those calorie watchers, especially with the accompanying sauce, a slightly sweet soy-based sauce, is served on the side.
Only four more to go! (I’m cheering my ability to continue eating at this point!)
The fifth lunch item on the Thai Street Food menu is the Kao Kha Moo, and let me tell you . . . this had Mart absolutely raving over the taste. Kao Kha Moo is essentially fall-off-the-bone-tender stewed pork leg with pickled veggies and a slice of hard boiled egg with a spicy garlic-ginger dipping sauce on the side. The flavor packed a bit more punch than some of the other lunch items, which suited us just fine.
The Kao Moo Daeng entrée showcases two kinds of marinated roast pork, offering several pieces of sliced pork tenderloin, and Thai pork sausage. Served with rice, cucumber, and that delightful soy dipping sauce, the profile of this dish offered clean flavors that let the two different pork preparations shine through. I especially liked the pork sausage – oriental sausage is always a big hit at our house.
Kao Na Gai was up next, featuring chicken over rice Thai Style, which resembles a savory garlic and ginger gravy, with a hint of fish sauce that’s so popular in Thailand. Baby corn and shitake mushrooms add an earthy flavor to the dish. I suspect that Thai Style refers to recipes that parents in Thailand make for their families. And why not? It’s so very yummy!
Our final dish on the Thai Street Food lunch menu was a green papaya salad called Kao Mun Som Tum, served with that amazing coconut rice. This was a beautiful vegetarian option presents slivers of fresh green papaya, carrot, asparagus, beans, and a spicy sweet and sour dressing highlighted with garlic, chili and topped with ground roasted peanuts.
As we enjoyed our dinner, Drunken Poet started to get busy, with table after table of guests taking a seat in the newly redecorated dining room.
Sensing the need to share our experience, Chef Judi Gallagher challenged the young men from a neighboring table to a Saki Bomb throw down with the not-quite-so-young men at our table. Saki Bombs start with a glass of beer, with a pair of chopsticks resting on the rim of the glass, with a cup of hot sake balanced over that.
Upon the count of three, all the guys began banging on the table, causing the sake to drop down into the beer, and then everyone drained their glass. I hate to say it, but the young guys definitely beat the folks from our table. But, it was a gallant effort that gained appreciation from other diners at Drunken Poet.
We really enjoyed learning the history behind the new decor at Drunken Poet, especially the Thai script poetry that runs the length of the wall. The poem, from Thai King Rama, talks about his love of food, and of women . . . which seems like as good a subject pairing to write about as anything else! The sushi bar also features a beautiful renovation, with a stacked stone wall and attractive lighting enhancing the effect.
Seems like Drunken Poet has it down “pat”. . . or should we say “Oy!”