Friday, October 09, 2009

May I See Your Secret Menu?


Most restaurants have daily specials, some have kids' menus. Some ethnic restaurants have specials printed on a white board that feature dishes that might not appeal to a guest not from that country. Some restaurant regulars are granted dispensation from chefs to order special preparations that fit their particular tastes.

Then there are the secret menu items available only to those in the know. In-N-Out Burger's off-the-menu items grew so large and popular that they put their Not-So-Secret Menu on their website. The micro-blogging service Twitter lives off of buzz passed from person to person, and so-called "secret" dishes are whispered like inside trades on Wall Street. That many of these tips are instigated by PR people in the employ of the restaurants should not be surprising.

But then there are the dishes that you might see one of the employees chowing down after a shift, something the cook came up with as a fast, easy way to satisfy an empty stomach. It often takes the form of comfort food, and that's exactly the case with the Pad Thai at Jade Teahouse in Sellwood.

It started as a dish that was made for the staff with a Laotian twist by Jade's culinary guiding light, mom Lucy Eklund. It leaked out when customers spied the big dishes of tangled noodles emerging from the kitchen and heard the sighs of happy staffers as they inhaled its heady, comfort-filled aroma. It experienced an added bump when it hit the web courtesy of Josh, Jade's Tweeter-in-Chief.

And how is it? Just some of the most delicious Pad Thai you'll have in town, and enough to feed two comfortably. Lucy likes it with oil-fried chiles (on the right in photo at left), nibbling a bit with each bite. Daughter April prefers it with her mother's hot chile sauce, made with those same red chiles ground and fried with onions and garlic. However you choose to consume it, definitely ask for a bit of each…you'll feel like a real insider.

Details: Jade Teahouse & Patisserie, 7912 S.E. 13th Ave. Phone 503-477-8985.

7 comments:

Ivy said...

I am obsessed with off menu food! Especially the staff meal... http://ivymanning.com/family1.html
At PeemKaew they put some of it on the specials board, like the Bangkok noodle soup and the Thai omelet, as with Jade.

kab said...

If anyone else knows of genuine (and worthwhile) off-the-menu items, do let us know!

kab said...

Excellent article, btw, my dear! (Read it by clicking here.)

EcoGrrl said...

i think it's tacky and kind of elitist when restaurants don't openly show all the items that can be ordered by customers. treat all customers with the same generosity of service and food. just doesn't sit right with me.

kab said...

I agree if they're saving "the good stuff" only for some people, but I've also seen these kinds of dishes develop a following to the point that they get put on the regular menu. It's good marketing, and it gives a restaurant a reason to try out items they might not otherwise offer.

Rahul said...

How about a field trip to this place in Sellwood? I am curious to try the secret pad thai.

kab said...

Any time, Rahul! I can't get enough of Lucy's cooking…