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That’s a Wrap!

September 12, 2011

No, we’re not talking about being on a movie set here.  It’s not that kind of a wrap.

And I’m not talking about turning a tortilla into a wrap either.  This is something entirely different.

If you’ve ever been to P.F. Chang’s before, you know that one of their most famous and popular dishes is the lettuce wrap.  I’ve seen various forms of the lettuce wrap done at various other restaurants in various forms before, but, I’ve never seen anything like the Thai wrap at Mongkut Thai in San Clemente.

Mongkut Thai is a great Thai restaurant located in the South Orange County city of San Clemente.  San Clemente is a beach goer and surfer’s paradise type of town with a main street (Avenida Del Mar) filled with all sorts of great shops and eateries.  Tucked amongst all these restaurants and shops is Mongkut Thai, open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  It’s a small restaurant that only seats about 40 people and generally has a small wait each night for dinner since it’s so popular.

My husband calls this restaurant one of his favorites.  In fact, on his most recent birthday, he asked for his birthday meal to be at Mongkut Thai.  Like me, his favorite dish is the Thai Wrap.  This is a truly unique spin on the classic chicken lettuce wraps, but with a markedly different Thai twist on it.

According to their menu, a Thai Wrap is “an eastern Thai style dish made with crispy rice, ground chicken, peanuts, fresh ginger and onions, tossed with spicy lime sauce and served with cool romaine lettuce leaves”.  Additionally, the menu also marks this appetizer dish as “spicy”.

I think that the menu description does nothing to explain just how delicious this dish is.  In fact, even though this may not be a truly authentic Thai dish, it’s probably one of the tastiest, most creative dishes I’ve ever ordered at a Thai restaurant.  It’s really that good.

Personally, I don’t think that the dish is spicy at all.  But I guess I could see how it might be considered somewhat spicy if you aren’t used to Thai food to begin with.  What it really is, is a dish that is a mix of everything you’d expect out of a Thai dish.  Thai food is known for its simplicity in its cooking in order to enhance the four fundamental taste senses of sweet, sour, salty and bitterness.  And this dish does just that.  It’s the essence of what Thai cooking is about.  This is very lightly cooked meal that reveals in its simplicity.  And yet, when you take a bite of it, it oozes all of the characteristics of Thai cooking; there’s the sour from the lime sauce, the sweet from the onions and the ground chicken, the salty comes in the form of the peanuts and the spicy lime sauce, and there’s the slight touch of bitterness from the onions and the romaine leaf, there’s also so much crunch and texture in the dish.  It’s the perfect combo of texture and flavor rolled into a simple lettuce wrap.

The first time we went to the restaurant, the owner recommended that we give it a try.  He said it was something new that the head chef had just come up with.  As soon as we each took a bite of the lettuce wrap we were won over instantly.  What comes out to your table is a dish that has 4 or 5 crunchy and crisp romaine leaves.  Also on the plate is this combo of cooked ground chicken, crispy rice, and chopped peanuts, diced red onions, green onions and cilantro that is combined with some sort of sauce.  What you’re supposed to do is take a romaine leaf in your hand and then take a spoonful of the ground chicken mixture and scoop it up onto the lettuce.  Then take a bite and savor the flavors as they hit your tongue.  You instantly taste the sourness from the lime sauce, and you feel the crunch of the romaine leaf and crispy rice as to chomp down on this culinary masterpiece.  The flavors combine so well and awaken your taste buds so that the only thought in your mind is that you need more.  Then you find that you’ve eaten your whole lettuce leaf.  So you go back and grab for another leaf and fill it with heaping spoonfuls of this chicken mixture.  When you chow down on that, you realize that all the food is gone off the plate.  Not only did you love it so much, but everyone else at your table loved it too.

Not only is Mongkut Thai one of my husband’s favorite restaurants, the Thai Wrap is one of this top 2 favorite dishes.  And I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that if I was ever on the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” appetizer edition, the Thai Wraps would definitely be my choice.  Believe me, if you ever had the opportunity to try these, you wouldn’t be disappointed.  And for all those people out there who are vegetarians, they actually make a vegetarian version with tofu instead of ground chicken.  So it’s a win-win for everyone.  Do yourself a favor, try one of these Thai Wraps.  No way you can tell me they aren’t to-die-for!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Judy hall permalink
    September 12, 2011 6:19 pm

    One of my favs too!

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