Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Mall Food

Normally a quick stop at a mall food court would not merit a blog post, but this was no ordinary adventure at the Pentagon City Mall. But first, who decided that it would be a good idea to herd thousands of middle school and high school kids into a rather average mall on a beautiful Saturday in Washington? Really, they flew in from across the country to loiter in front of a Panda Express? This has always baffled me, even when I was one of those bratty 8th graders dumped into this very mall many years ago...

Anyway, back to the food court story. J and I must have been awfully hungry to venture into the adolescent mosh pit that is the food court level. After dismissing several options because of laughably long lines, we settled on Kelly's Cajun Grill, partially because of the free samples that they were passing out on toothpicks. While J asked the lady - who we will call "Kelly" from now on - what the sample was (bourbon chicken), I quickly devoured my sample, placed the toothpick back on Kelly's tray (not anywhere near the chicken samples), and went to get in line. Suddenly I hear Kelly shriek, "Mister, hello!" Not knowing what she meant or even who she was yelling at, I looked in the direction that Kelly was pointing and saw that my toothpick had been thrown on the floor next to the trash can. Apparently, I committed the cardinal sin of free samples at the mall when I returned my toothpick to Kelly's tray. Who knew there were such a strict "no give backs" protocol?

But as much of a surreal experience as this was, I have to thank Kelly. Because of her tantrum, we decided to spend our money elsewhere. That "elsewhere" turned out to be Sala Thai, which turned out to be a revelation. While we might have been grading on a mall food court curve, J's pre-prepared drunken noodles were some of the best she's had in months. I also lucked out when I ordered the daily special of fried fish in a spicy coconut sauce. The sauce was dynamic (when was the last time you didn't have a one note sauce in a food court?) and the fish was made to order. Thanks for the tip Kelly!

J Says

Lots of people ask me how we have the time to eat out so much or how we budget for our restaurant adventures. The truth is, sometimes we don't have time and we don't want to spend a lot of money, so we end up eating in mall food courts. I'm not one to turn my nose up at Panda Express' orange chicken or a slice of cheese pizza from Sbarro (their recent bankruptcy announcement saddened me as it was my favorite food court pick as a kid).

On this particular day we had just completed ultimate frisbee practice (don't laugh, we're also in a skeeball league) and we were starving. Instead of searching out something new and blog worthy, I made a beeline to Panda Express. As B noted, the line was so full of teens you'd think Justin Bieber was dishing up the chow mein. While I was sad to see my orange chicken go, we stumbled on a gem.

Now I don't want you to go to the mall and search out Sala Thai and expect it's going to be the best thai food you've ever had. But, if you're searching the racks at Nordstrom and hunger strikes, don't be afraid to brave the masses of teeny boppers and head over to Sala Thai for a drunken noodle of a good time.
Sala Thai on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

lacochran's evil twin said...

It's hard to enjoy any food amidst the ambiance of a food court but good for you for finding the gem!

And, no, nobody wants your spit-laden toothpick.