- Terelle Jerricks
By Gretchen Williams, Lifestyle and Cuisine Writer
“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”— Buddha
Escape the chaos and noise of downtown when stepping into Baramee, the new Thai restaurant at home in the old 6th Street Bistro location. Calm and serenity reign at Baramee, with a frieze of Buddha and his brothers crowning one wall, opposite original aged brick. Quiet music continues the calm feeling. Dining al fresco on the patio, protected by sails overhead, is lovely in the spring and summer.
Gentle as the atmosphere might be, the menu at Baramee is packed with fascinating and exciting dishes. The starter list is ripe with riches, demonstrating the diversity of Thai cuisine as well as the artistry of the chef. Chicken satay, traditional grilled chicken skewers served with killer peanut sauce, is garnished with addictive cucumber salad. Fresh Buddha roll is refreshing and full of crunch, with noodles, tofu and vegetables wrapped in edible rice paper, dipped in a flavorful homemade sauce. Coconut shrimp fans will love Baramee’s golden beauties, crispy and served with tangy sweet and sour sauce. Tuna tartare is finely diced fresh Ahi tuna, seasoned with Thai spicy sauce and scooped up with fried wonton crisps, a splendid rendition of the menu favorite. Aromatic soft shell crab is lightly battered and fried, then served with chili lime sauce, fun to eat with the fingers. Crispy cream cheese does not seem Thai, but the mellow mixture of cream cheese and crabmeat wrapped in fried wonton skins works and makes great finger food. Triangle Tofu is tribute to the thousands of ways to use tofu, here fried until brown and served with house sweet and sour sauce with ground peanuts.
Tom Yum is famous Thai chicken or shrimp hot and sour soup, packed with light flavors of lemon grass and lime, and just hot enough to make you sit up and take notice. Invigorating and nourishing, Tom Yum is the mom’s chicken soup of Thailand. Tom Kha is also chicken or shrimp in a rich coconut milk broth and a touch of lemongrass. Spicy Seafood soup sounds particularly good on a rainy night, a stew of mixed seafood (shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, crab and fish) in a spicy broth. Simple mixed vegetables in clear broth would sooth even the most irritated constitution.
Thai salads are filled with intriguing ingredients, often using fruit as vegetables and combining hot and cold elements in one dish. Papaya Pok Pok is made with shredded green papaya tossed with green beans, tomato, cashew nut and spicy chili-lime sauce, unusual and delightful. Spicy beef salad is the pride of the menu, tender beef tossed with onion, cucumber, tomato, basil leaves and spicy chili-lime sauce. Roasted duck salad is elegant with savory strips of roasted duck on a bed of Romaine hearts and spring baby lettuces and tomatoes, with chili-lime dressing. Blue crab salad heaps jumbo lump blue crab meat on baby spring lettuce greens, dressed with chili-lime dressing. Ahi tuna salad is satisfaction on a plate, finely sliced Ahi tossed with Romaine and Chef’s special sauce.
Curry at Baramee is Thai style, offering green, red or yellow curry sauces with chicken, beef, pork or tofu, shrimp or seafood. Coconut milk is the basis for each sauce, spiced and seasoned with different combinations of herbs, spices and aromatics. Roasted Duck Curry is fabulous, combining roast duck and pineapple, basil, red, green and yellow bell peppers in a smooth red coconut curry sauce. The incredible sauce is bright coral color, sensual and velvety. San Pedro Harbor Curry is red coconut curry with shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels and crab, a perfect tribute to our fair city.
There is a master at the wok at Baramee and the expertise shows in dishes like spicy eggplant or asparagus shrimp. Long Asian eggplants become silky and delicious, meltingly soft and infused with the flavors of onion, basil and bell peppers. Asparagus shrimp is grilled with style, wok’d with shiitake mushrooms, lots of shrimp and tiny asparagus spears, with light garlic sauce. Classic Thai Vegan is steamed spinach wok’d with tofu in that killer peanut sauce, a dish that will make any vegetarian happy.
The grill gets good use at Baramee, with fragrant Thai Boxing Chicken and Bangkok BBQ Pork. Thai boxers are lucky fellows if they get to eat Thai Boxing Chicken after the match. A full half chicken is grilled with sweet and sour sauce for excellent effect, a glossy glazed skin and juicy breast meat. Marinated pork is grilled and served with spicy chili sauce, best eaten with the fingers and lots of napkins.
Noodles are popular in Thailand at all times of day and night. Seafood Pad Thai is the traditional rice noodles with shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels and crab with crushed peanuts and bean sprouts. Drunken Noodles are best eaten late at night, thought to be the perfect antidote for a bit too much to drink, flat noodles with meat, shrimp or tofu and basil, bell peppers and spicy chili sauce. Crab Noodles are pan-fried rice noodles with crab meat, egg, bean sprouts and scallions with a touch of Thai chili.
Thai fried rice is different from the Chinese variety, combining rice, egg, onion and tomato with chicken, beef, pork, seafood or tofu with a light sauce. Hawaiian Fried Rice is a fusion dish of rice, chicken, shrimp, pineapple, cashew nuts, onion, raisins and egg, a riot of color, texture and flavor.
Baramee’s special dishes would stand out on any menu. The 110 Trout is named for the beloved Harbor Freeway, traditionally steamed boneless fish with chili lime sauce. Grilled fillet of salmon is first marinated in Thai herbs and spices and served with spinach. Mandarin Duck serves roasted crispy boneless duck with spinach. Crazy Filet Mignon with fresh cut green beans will make you crazy with desire, prepared with either spicy Thai herbal sauce or tasty garlic sauce. Crying Tiger “meat so good that tigers cry for it”, slow grilled marinated rib eye steak with the Chef’s secret sauce is a popular favorite. Panang Soft Shell Crab pairs crispy soft shell crab with Panang curry sauce. The Aromatic Duo is pan seared scallops and shrimp with phenomenal spiced lemon grass sauce.
Each dish at Baramee is plated and served with extreme care. Decorative fruit and vegetables garnish each plate, and sauce is often smeared on the plate for dramatic effect. Ordering dessert at Baramee is an adventure, as much for the spectacle on the plate as for the marvelous sweet itself. Mango and sticky rice and Lychee fruit on ice are typical Thai desserts, but the presentation at Baramee is so beautiful that it seems a tragedy to eat it and destroy the composition. Chocolate cake is unctuous chocolate mousse cake, strewn with fresh berries and a slash of chocolate sauce. Coconut ice cream can be just the thing to quell the chili spirits.
Baramee has a very respectable wine list with choices to suit everyone. Many of the wines are poured by the glass, a happy development for New Zealand whites and Italian reds. The beer list spans the globe, while traditional Thai iced tea and iced coffee are off the charts great.
Details: (310) 521-9400, http://www.barameethairestaurant.com/baramee/
Venue: Baramee Thai
Location: 354 W.6th St., San Pedro