Friday, November 22, 2019

Phing Tham

Phing Tham is a new Southeast Asian restaurant from the Pesce team that offers seafood, chargrilled-meats, and 'unapologetically spicy' salads and curries. 'Phing' is the traditional grilling method. 'Tham' is the tonal sound of salads mixed with a mortar with pestle. Located above Bullfrog Bagels in Eastern Market Main Street. Closest Metro is Eastern Market.

We heard about this new Southeast Asian spot that had a successful pop-up over the summer and decided to go permanent on the upstairs dining space of Bullfrog Bagels.  It was nothing fancy, but more seating than I expected.  After our warm welcome, we ordered a bottle of Totara, Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand.  It was bright with loads of tropical citrus notes that would help offset our spicy meal.

We were explained to order 3 proteins and 3 salads for the two of us, or one of the larger sharing entrees.  We opted for the former and our first bite was Octopus in a simple honey chili glaze paired with Cucumber Salad with green eggplant, lemongrass, and chili.  The octopus was tender and meaty - not chewy at all and the salad was good, but a bit too similar to the others we ordered.

Keith ordered the Glazed Spare Ribs with black bean and chili rub that was cut against the bone.  This was paired with a spicy Rice Noodle Salad with garlic, green beans, and cilantro.  The noodles were soft and had a great addictive spice level.

My favorite was the Giant Prawn char-grilled with garlic and shrimp oil.  The meat was sweet and tender.  I only wish we got more than one for the $21 price tag.  This we paired with the Green Papaya Salad with tomatoes and cilantro.  We were warned that the chef makes each batch by order, so the chili level varies and cannot really be controlled.  This salad left my mouth on fire - even more spicy than what I remember from Little Serow or during our time eating across Thailand.

I am glad we ordered a side of sticky rice to help tame all the heat, as we were also presented with a tray of various housemade sauces ranging in spice level in case you need something extra including from top left: "SE Asian Mother Sauce" (clear sauce with chilies); See Ew - Thai Mushroom Soy & Pigeon Peppers; a Sambal Olek (red sauce); Roasted Green Chili, Datu Puti, Soy (green sauce), and the spicy Green Chili & Fish Sauce.  My favorite was the See Ew that had loads of umami.  Keith was more adventurous and loved the spiciest of all.

To conclude our meal, we were presented with a cooling drink of whiskey, coconut, and kefir lime.  It was delicious!   All in all we had a good meal at Phing Tham --- the menu was no fuss and the flavors were all very authentic.  Next time, we recommend ordering 4 proteins and 2 salads if you don't choose the daily curry or larger plates to share, since the chili and garlic overpowers all and things start to blend on your palate.

Total Rating: 3.95
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

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