"Andaman Secret" sounds like the name of a Charlie Chan movie or a Nancy Drew book, but it actually is an appetizer at Bhan Thai restaurant. It's not on the menu, though; you just have to know about it to order it.
I had to discover the mystery of Andaman Secret after tasting some of the sauce. A colleague ordered the appetizer, but by the time I got to the table, only a squid and mussel remained. They were tasty, but the sauce was incredible. I drank it with a spoon.
A few days later, I went back to Bhan Thai to order one of my own.
First of all, it's beautiful. It's a colorful stack of mussels, shrimp, squid, tomatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers, lemon, cilantro and some cashews covered with that spicy basil sauce. It's delicious; it's like the taste of summer. I can imagine eating it on a warm evening on Bhan Thai's spacious deck.
The restaurant's owner, Molly Smith, said Andaman Secret came from her chef, Tanatat "Alex" Kamsrijan, she replied.
They took it off the menu it five or six years ago, but you still can order it, she said. "Our regulars ask for it, and they still get it. We have all the ingredients to make it in house."
Customer George Handwerker is one of those regulars who orders Andaman Secret.
When I asked him about it, Handwerker said he first ordered it back in the day when it was on the menu, and he was hooked. "The sauce is what is absolutely the addictive part," he said.
Handwerker always orders a bowl of white rice along with it to "soak up the sauce. Man, you mash that rice into the juice."
Bhan Thai restaurant is at 1324 Peabody; (901) 272-1538.
-- Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; firstname.lastname@example.org