Blue Spice


I don’t know what took me so long to get to Blue Spice (Central Ave, Colonie, NY). It’s an easy location to get to (just off of 87), and the decor inside is bright, warm, and very inviting. There are even tables you can sit at all Asian-style and eat with your shoes off. Looked like it was mostly for large groups, though.
I got 2 soft shell crabs as a meal. I think it was something like $18. Tasty! It came with a salty and peppery sauce and sprinkled with some cilantro. I could probably eat 9 of these, but 2 was a good portion size and price.
Albany John got Drunken Noodles with duck. It was also under $20, and not an overwhelming amount. The restaurant was busy on a weekend night, but our dishes came out soon enough, and I liked the presentation. I think this might be why I hadn’t been earlier – I’m usually not a fan of Thai dishes, but this had a nice balance of spicy/sweet/salty and didn’t lean too much in one direction. Albany John really liked the flavors in this dish.
I liked that the portions weren’t too large, because then I had room for dessert! This was a mango (maybe pineapple? sorry, it’s been a bit since I was there) layer cake dessert. It was so good! $7, and easy to split, or eat by yourself after your better half has seen the look of cake-ly desires in your eyes.

It was around $50 with tax for dinner for two. Not a bad night out, and the location is good for a date night.

Kinnaree

Kinnaree is one of Lark Street’s newest restaurants, specializing in Thai & Korean fare. It’s in the same space as A Taste of Greece used to be (193 Lark St, Albany, NY), and I think they’ve changed the space nicely. Warmer tones, different tables and chairs. They’ve still kept the wrap around wall seating. Overall, it’s simple, but nice.

Any way, after getting a sneak peek of the menu on Steve’s Tablehopping blog, I was pretty excited to check it out. I’m usually not a fan of a lot of Thai food in the area because there’s too much sweet going on in the flavors, but Steve’s comments & the recs from other commenters had my hopes set high. I wasn’t disappointed.

There was so much menu to order from, so The Profussor and his Fussy little Children joined the husbear & me to try a wider amount than we’d normally be able to. First up were fried tofu. $4.95.

Fluffy pillows of fried tofu. Nom. Not greasy at all. There was a sweet & sour kind of sauce with crushed peanuts on the left, and our server also brought out some kind of spicy chili powder for the guys (heat hounds). Overall, good flavors, good portion for the price.

Crab salad. $7.95. I am a sucker for soft shell crab and when I saw it on the menu the night before, I had to have it. It was moist, succulent, and deliciously crabby. Not at all greasy. A pretty large soft shell crab, too. I was quite happy with this salad, especially for $7.95. Very good price.

It came on a bed of mixed greens, apple matchsticks, and tomatoes. Dressing was served on the side (see it in the back?). A green kind of tart and garlicky dressing with a bit of kick to it. Quite nice. I’ll definitely get this again.

Som Tum (green papaya salad, $6.95). A softball sized (or perhaps a bit larger) portion of green papaya salad with green beans and peanuts in it. Good amount of heat, and the sweet/tart/hot flavors were well balanced. I liked it, although the center of my tongue went numb into my first spoonful. I left it to the heat hounds.

Tteokbokki ($12) is a Korean dish, made of sliced rice cakes and beef with a spicy chili sauce. This wasn’t as spicy as the papaya salad, and I quite enjoyed the flavors. I’ve never had tteok before, but have heard wonderful things about it. I once tried cooking it myself from dried tteok cakes, but didn’t know you had to soak them for a day before hand, so… my efforts did not turn out well.

Any way, these rice cake tteok things are super chewy! Like the first few chews of gum. Lots of resistance. Densely thick rice cakes. An added bonus was that this tteokbokki came with some ban chan! Sweetly soaked potatoes, kim chi, sweet black beans, and bean sprouts. Nice surprise.

Rad Nah ($6.95) was a tasty dish as well. Made of rice noodles, Thai broccoli (tasted like gai lan to me) and a choice of meat, it was quite a tasty dish. It was a cornstarch based gravy, but not gloppy. Tons of savory flavor. We chose more of that tasty tofu as the ‘meat’ for the dish. You can also add chicken for no extra charge, but if you want pork, beef, shrimp, or other seafood it’s an additional charge.

I loved the noodles! The rice noodles had a TON of delicious char to them from the pan. When you see rice noodles that have brown or black on them, THAT IS A GOOD SIGN! It says “WELCOME TO DELICIOUSTOWN!”

Sorry. Rice noodles are one of my favorite starches when they are prepared well, and they were so well prepared here. I get so excited when they come out all seared and delicious like this. They were kind of in a clump underneath the tofu and broccoli, not really long individual ribbons. But they were So. Good.

We finished off with dessert. Some ice cream for the kiddos, and a dessert roti for the adults. $3 for both desserts. Kinnaree was even nice enough to split the ice cream into two bowls for each child.

The dessert roti was nice. Kind of small. Like a very small crepe. But it certainly gave me new and fattily dangerous ideas of how to eat my roti. Rolled up with jam and drizzled with condensed milk. And here I’ve just been eating it plain. Oh dear.

Kinnaree charges for tea. About $2. It’s weird for me to go to Asian places that charge for tea, but I guess times are a-changing. I’m used to it being for free. But they have a pretty wide selection at Kinnaree, and Albany John had a very gingery one he was happy with.

We ended up getting out of Kinnaree for about $52 (before tip). Not too shabby! Obvs it’ll cost more for dinner, but lunch prices are quite nice. hee hee. Get the crab salad. Seriously.

Then we meandered over to the new coffee shop on Lark, Caffe Vero Coffee Roasters. Daniel B. got something with a heart on it.

Albany John got something I’ve never heard of before. And now I forget it’s name. But it’s the one you read and you’re like “Woah, what the heck is that?!”. It was good, too. Half-and-half, some espresso, some cocoa. It was nicely bitter without being acidic and had just a touch of sweetness. Albany John isn’t much of a sweet tooth and really enjoyed it.

The wee one got a hot chocolate and oh my gosh, I’ve never seen a baby toddler house a hot cocoa like that before. It bodes well for her future eating career.

Capital Thai


Blah.
I am disappointed. And still recovering from road rage.


I decided I really wanted something spicy and new, so I thought of Capital Thai. Albany John really liked it, and everyone around here seems to agree.

So I called in an order of a lunch sized entrée of Shrimp in Capital Thai Sauce (spicy tamarind) for $8.95 and since I saw sushi and I’m a piggie for sushi; one Philadelphia roll (salmon, avocado and cream cheese).

So I headed out to Central Ave and once I hit uptown Albany traffic I was immediately caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over 25 minutes. As usual, there was a merge of 2 lanes of traffic. Which means in Albany, (or all of New York for that matter) that one lane of people is in the lane that is supposed to be open, and the other jack holes speed up on the soon-to-be-closed lane and cut people off to get ahead of the line. This just backs traffic up entirely and everything is in a standstill.

Once I finally managed to get into Capital Thai’s parking lot (after getting cut off and almost hit by a big construction vehicle that was running a light >_<) my order was waiting on the counter. I paid $15.34 including tax and was on my way out. Thankfully traffic was a bit easier on the way back, but I was still stuck in traffic forever because the people on Central didn’t think they needed to follow the lights, so I couldn’t get in on my green lights because traffic cones were everywhere and people were running red lights in a big stream because traffic was so slow.

Once I finally trekked back inside, I was really looking forward to Thai food. There was a hot metal container with my Shrimp in Capital Thai Sauce, and it looked pretty substantial. Normally I wouldn’t spend so much on lunch, but hey, this seemed like a good deal.

And then I opened the container.

As you can see, it looks closer to a soup than to a sauce, at least in my book. It was very runny, and there was a mish mash of veggies in the sauce. The menu says the shrimp is supposed to be crispy fried and covered in this sauce, but these were soggy. I am blaming that on Traffic, since they were the opposite of crispy.

Flavor wise, I was not impressed. It was like a modified sweet and sour sauce with some chili flakes thrown in. If I don’t think it’s too spicy, then it’s really not spicy. Maybe I got the anglo-heat since I used my American name for pick up. The veggies were mostly shredded carrot, pineapple, and celery. Kind of a weird combination, and I didn’t really like them. Maybe this is normal? I’m not sure, but with the heavy soup/sauce combo, it was a bit of an overdose on sticky-sweetness and mushy veggies. Again, I am willing to blame this on the traffic and the heat affecting the container.
The shrimp were swimming in the sauce, and so I picked them out and put them on the gigantic container of rice they gave with the entrée. When I picked them out, I realized there were 7 shrimp in the entire container. I’ll say 8 and be generous. But to me, the seafood lover, 8 medium sized shrimp is puny for a dish that cost $9. They were a bit gummy and mushy (ick), but I am going to blame that on them sitting in the container while I sat in traffic, but still, I have had other Asian foods sit around for a long time with less ill effects. Also, the container as a whole was shallowly half filled with food. I think a smaller container would have been better, or better yet, more food, since when I first looked at it, I just thought “Aww, is that all?”.
In the end, I left the last shrimp (something I never do since I love seafood) and just threw it out – it was so disappointing, I just didn’t want to eat it anymore.


The Philadelphia roll was okay at $5.25, but I would not order it again. The fish was fresh, but the roll itself was very hard to taste because of all the rice on the outside. The cream cheese was ok, but I didn’t much care for it. I ended up picking off a lot of the rice around the rolls and poking out some of the cream cheese to make it taste better. I tossed the last 2 pieces of roll since they were just not worth the calories.

I would really describe this experience as disappointing. Not awful, not bad, not good, not great, just disappointing. Sometimes I think disappointing meals are even worse than bad meals. With disappointing meals, you know there’s just a little something that needs tweaking. Bad meals are just plain bad (you know, like anything with ketchup and mayo in it – har har!).
I think I will give Capital Thai another try and eat in – their décor was simple, spacious and very relaxed. The staff was very polite and nice. I am just going to blame this entire thing on traffic and my own poor menu choices.