Tuesday, August 07, 2012

After Osha

After Osha is the casual, mostly take-out, version of the popular Osha Thai chain.  Since there are three full service Oshas within a mile of my house, I don't usually venture to After Osha, but I've been fairly intrigued by it since its opening, as every time I walk by, they seem to be doing things a little differently.  I think they are trying to figure out their market, and keep changing up the format every few months to see what sticks.

Currently, when you walk in, you first encounter the appetizer and salad bar.  Here you can grab pre-made rolls, or order rolls to be made to order, or order salads (papaya, mango) to order.  Or ... you can order ice cream, in assorted Thai flavors.  Or, crepes, freshly made to order, of either savory or sweet varieties.  The savory selection includes things like tuna salad with hardboiled egg in it.  The sweet ones are your standard fruit and cream, or nutella and banana, or red bean and ice cream.

Then, you move on to the next section, where there are a bunch of pre-made dishes, ranging from classic pad thai, to pumpkin curry, to volcanic beef.  You can choose to get a box filled up with as many different things as you want.  Or you can order a specific entree made to order.

And then, there are the desserts.  The dessert selection seems different every time I visit, and includes traditional mango with sticky rice, mango pudding, and some Thai baked goods.  And then some not-so-standard items, like macarons.  Today there was a fruit trifle, with sponge cake, mascarpone, and berries.  And an incredible looking layered chocolate dessert.  Or sometimes there is crème brûlée, but sadly, they were out of it today.  The selection is rather incredible.  And then, there are the drinks, Thai iced coffee, Thai iced tea, and a few others.

Phew!  One cannot complain that there are not choices!  The staff are all eager to tell you about your different options, clearly used to people being a little confused by the layout.  There are tables to sit at, but I get the impression that most people take their food and leave.

The food is all of standard Osha quality, but at a cheaper price point, and obviously more casual setting.  If I need to just grab some rolls, or crave some Thai dessert, I'll definitely be back.  The "fill a box with pre-made dishes" option isn't very appealing, as the few things I've sampled from there seem to have been sitting for quite a while.  I'd like to try some of the crepes sometime too.

Also ... they are on GoPago, so I checked them out today, to use up a few more of my free GoPago credits.  Free dessert = win!
 Jade: Pandanus tapioca with kettle corn and coconut cream.  $3.95. 
Since they didn't have my precious crème brûlée, I settled for another dessert category I love: puddings!    One bite of this, and I was instantly transplanted back to the very first Thai restaurant I ever went to, Thai 99, in Charlottesville, VA, when I was a graduate student.  About once a month, we would splurge, and go to lunch there.  The lunch deal was a full $10 once you included tax and tip, which was very significant for us as grad students.  The meal was huge however, starting with a soup, including a crispy spring roll, your choice of entree and rice, and then it always ended with a coconut milk based pudding, with tapioca and random jelly like things we could never quite identify.

After Osha's Jade was really almost identical to that dessert, or at least, to my memory of it.  Sweet, coconut milk based cream, little tapioca balls, and some larger chunks of ... something.  This however, also contained corn kernels.  Now, I love corn.  Particularly sweet corn.  And I'm all for having fun and putting in some savory ingredients into my desserts.  But ... the corn just didn't work for me at all.  I liked the texture it added, but I just couldn't get past the flavor.

Besides the corn however, I really liked this.  The tapioca was particularly notable in how well it was prepared, not clumped together, tender, just nicely done.

Because of the corn, I'd probably opt to try something else next time, but I did like this quite a bit, particularly for the fond memories of grad school it conjured up :)  $3.95 was a fitting price.

Notes from prior visits:
  • Pad Thai: "Rice stick noodles stir-fried with egg, bean sprout, chives, tofu and ground peanut with your choice of chicken or shrimp".  Tasting notes:  Just sweet, kinda mushy noodles, had been sitting out, clearly.
  • Pad See Ew: "Rice noodles pan fried with Chinese broccoli, egg, black soy sauce with chicken".  Tasting notes: This was not good.  Even though I got there at opening, and it was "fresh", the noodles were way over cooked and soggy.  There wasn't much flavor to it either.  Meh.
  • Spring Roll: "Vegetarian wrapped in fresh rice paper with lettuce, mint and homemade peanut dipping sauce".  Tasting notes: Decent, fairly fresh tasting, good peanut sauce on top. [ Spring roll rice paper wrapper good, but overall not much flavor in the other ingredients.  Peanut sauce is a must. ]  [ Fairly generic spring roll, but great peanut sauce. ]
  • Crab Rangoon: Tasting notes: The wonton wrapper was fried up nice and crisp, and was quite tasty.  The inside seemed to be almost all cream cheese though, I wouldn't have known there was any crab in there.  Perhaps I got a dud?
  • Pumpkin Curry: "Kabocha pumpkin in red curry sauce, bell pepper and chicken".  Tasting notes: Fairly sweet curry sauce, decent flavor, mediocre chicken.  Seemed mostly white meat at least.
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