Munch has a number of "go-tos," reliable eateries that provide a cure for whatever malady you might suffer: hangover, stomach flu, hunger, broken heart, losing to the Tennessee Titan-itus, broken rib ...
For a long time, Green Mango Noodle Hut in Regent Square was the remedy for virtually everything curable by food. Thai Friend of Munch reported their tom yum soup was indeed medicinal. Even Munch's parents, who were skeptical of the notion of Thai food in Pittsburgh, were easily swayed.
So Munch was devastated -- nay crushed like the ice in a Mad Mex margarita -- when learning that the restaurant would shutter its Regent Square location, forcing Munch to travel all the way to Monroeville to feast on its delectable Thai delights. With the Parkway-pacalypse caused by intermittent closures of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, Munch is much happier staying closer to home.
Thai Cottage filled in the storefront where Munch's beloved Green Mango used to sit. Walking in, Munch was struck by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia because the dining room is virtually identical. The tables and chairs are all similarly arranged in the warmly lit, cozy space.
And the joint remains BYOB, which is why Excitable Friend of Munch came equipped with a cork-topped bottle of fancy beer from D's SixPax & Dogz, which is conveniently across the street. Our meal started off with his unceremonious uncorking, a bang and a pop that sent the top straight into the ceiling, prompting him to squeal like a 12-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. But instead of throwing us out, the waiters accepted our gracious apologies and sent glasses over to the table.
Our table, which included Vegetarian Photographer Friend of Munch, started off with fresh rolls, translucent sheets of rice paper wrapped around noodles, herbs and tofu ($5.50). They were cut sushi-style, just as Green Mango had done them, and came accompanied with a tangy dipping sauce. The appetizer combination ($9.50) was a panoply of treats: tiny steamed pork and shrimp dumplings, chicken skewers with heavenly sweet peanut sauce, crispy samosas shaped like table footballs and stuffed with curried potatoes and crunchy spring rolls, deep fried to perfection.
VPFOM was a fan of the pumpkin soup ($5), a creamy puree that hinted of Thai spices. The Spicy Thai Fried Rice ($10.50) was greasily satisfying, with glistening grains of rice serving as a base for stir-fried vegetables and tender pork. Pineapple curry with shrimp ($13) was a heavenly combination of spicy, sweet and creamy, with a generously large shrimp. EFOM, now markedly subdued, gave a satisfying eye roll.
"Mmmmm so good," he said.
Munch will probably never get over the shuttering of Green Mango. But Thai Cottage is a safe rebound and is beginning to heal Munch's aching heart.