Sasi’s Thai in Brownsville is a fine departure from the familiar

dfwnewsa | January 23, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Sasi’s Thai in Brownsville is a fine departure from the familiar
Sasi’s Thai is located at 937 Frontage Road in Brownsville. (Travis M. Whitehead)
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BROWNSVILLE — The blue-green lights breaking through the cold and the wet of a January night beckon me into the welcoming warmth of a place thick with aromas and music of a faraway place.

A part of that faraway place has travelled here and has taken the name “Sasi’s Thai”. An older man asks, “Dining in?” I nod yes, and he gestures to the room filled with shiny black tables set and polished wooden chairs with red upholstery.

“Anywhere you like,” he says, and I take a table in a corner near the door.

The menu before me is a rather plain and unassuming menu. It doesn’t have a flashy or eye-catching design, and in this case the menu doesn’t have to be flashy.

And here’s why: Spring rolls, chicken satay, fried tofu.

Crab Rangoon.

Tum yum, won ton soup and pad se ew.

The foreignness and the unknown and the excitement of it all makes a fancy menu unnecessary. These listings speak for themselves. They are a refreshing departure from the familiar into the unfamiliar and the innovative and the new.

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However, I’ve come in looking for one particular dish – pad Thai. When I first learned of this restaurant at 937 Frontage Road in Brownsville, I experienced the memory of another Thai restaurant in the McAllen – Mission area. I created that memory about twenty years ago, and so vivid was the memory of those delicious noodles that they instantly appeared again.

So, I look now over the menu and turn it over and find pad Thai at the very top: noodle stir fry with egg, carrots, onions, bean sprouts and peanuts, and a choice of meat.

I motion to the waiter and place my order and request chicken. He asks a question I’ve never heard before: “Spicy level zero to four.”

“One,” I answer.

As he leaves, I consider for a moment the quietness of the place. The white walls and the warmth and the cleanliness of Sasi’s bear a sharp contrast to the wet and the cold and the dark outside. It is a sort of sanctuary into which I can take refuge from the winter into a more temperate place or perhaps even a tropical place.

The Eastern music with its intricacies and its complexities woven together flows along the walls and the fans on the walls depicting elephants and streams and quiet pools. A painting shows more elephants beneath a red sky. I like the way they stand like shadows against that red sky.

The pad Thai at Sasi’s Thai is composed of noodle stir fry with egg, carrots, onions, bean sprouts and peanuts, and a choice of meat. (Travis M. Whitehead)

My plate now sits before me, the noodles and the eggs and the peanuts for which I have longed for.

The steam rises as I take my first bite and it is spicier than I thought and it is only a one and I wonder if I should have chosen a spice level of zero. I’m reminded now of the disastrous mishaps in Mexico when I have bitten into a chili hiding in a dish that makes jalapenos look like gummy bears.

However, this spicy doesn’t torture me so much. I have my glass of water and keep eating a little slower and actually slower is what I seek in all things. Perhaps this spice is a reminder to continue on the path of the slow and the reflective because that is where we truly experience the spice and the flavor and the music of all things.

I’m reminded now of the poem by William Wordsworth, “The World is Too Much With Us.”

“Getting and spending we lay waste our powers, little we see in nature that is ours,” he writes.

I see so much here in this quiet place, the couple leaving toward the door and the older man waiting the tables saying, “Take Care Guys,” and they replying, “You too,” and then “Stay out of the snow.”

I see the peanuts and the egg and the chicken all mixed together and the steam rising and I experience each individual flavor and the mixture of those flavors. I see the two young women walk briskly into this clean and well-lighted place, energized by the cold and excited about having spicy and delicious Thai food.

“Dining in?”

“Yes,” they answer, and so it goes on into the night, the warmth and wonder of Thai food in a sanctuary from the cold and rainy night.

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