This vibrantly colorful food cart is parked at one of the best spots in town. Situated on a pie-shaped piece of property along one of Eugene's busiest East-West thoroughfares at 6th and Blair, it's pretty hard to miss!
Drumrongthai is owned and operated by two of the most charming people you'll ever meet. Chef A, and his sister O, (yes, these are their names!) serve up delicious Thai cuisine in a spirit and atmosphere of pure joy. Their friendly, smiling faces immediately make you feel very much at home in their little corner of the world.
Smack dab in the middle of this very busy street, Drumrongthai succeeds in creating its own unique ambiance with intoxicating sounds of classical Indian music playing and the romance of hanging flower planters, and water bowls filled with leaves and fallen flower petals placed on tables and fence posts.
There are sixteen items currently on the menu, which is quite a wide variety for a little food cart. Chef A was careful to guide me to those dishes that can be prepared vegan. He thoughtfully explained how many Thai restaurants use chili sauce that contains shrimp paste in their curry dishes, passing them off as vegan, even though they are clearly not. He said that he plans to soon make his own chili sauce free of shrimp paste, so that he can offer a vegan option on most, if not all of his dishes. He also plans to expand the current menu to include tempeh dishes and a variety of curry specials.
O offered me a Thai iced tea made with coconut milk, instead of dairy. It had just the right amount of sugar, and was brewed to perfection. (Sometimes Thai iced tea can be too strong or overly-sweet.) So now, I was really excited to taste the food.
I thought I'd start with the most basic dish possible—Pad Thai, but without the egg, of course. I also asked A to leave out the crushed peanut, as for some reason, it never seems to heighten my enjoyment of this dish. Knowing that there are as many ways to prepare Pad Thai as there are Thai chefs, I couldn't wait to taste Chef A's take on Pad Thai. In my own home, I have prepared several versions of this Thai classic. You'll find one of my recipes here. Chef A's Pad Thai was delicious! Packed neatly in this to-go box, it's hard to tell, but the noodles were bathed in a tasty "tamarindy" sauce and laced with tiny slices of delicately fried tofu. I was pretty impressed with the portion size, too. It was nice to feel satisfied for $6.50.
I couldn't wait to return and try something else. This time I ordered the Sweet and Sour with tofu, and was treated to a dish that was as vibrantly colorful as the cart itself, and as tasty as any Sweet and Sour I've eaten anywhere.
I look forward to trying many other dishes at Drumrongthai, including the Thom Ka coconut soup, Vegetable Delight, and Cashew Stir Fry, as well as all of the new dishes Chef A will create. Now that the weather finally seems to be getting nice here in Eugene, it will be wonderful to enjoy this delectable food outdoors. Drumrongthai is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM, and closed on Sundays. If you love Thai food, you'll definitely want to check out Drumrongthai.
Earlier in the day, I had stopped at Sunrise Asian Market to pick up a few staple items and eyed this enormous fifteen-pound jackfruit sitting proudly on a shelf. I never knew a jackfruit was that big! This baby was about eighteen inches across from end to end. At $1.99 per pound, it would have set me back close to thirty bucks.
Since I'd never tasted jackfruit before, I decided to be conservative and paid the $2.49 per pound pre-cut price for a much smaller, but still impressive slice that set me back a little over eight dollars. (Crazy expensive? Yes! But it still doesn't beat the little $13.00 dragonfruit I once spied at a local natural foods store, but couldn't bring myself to purchase.) I really wanted to add jackfruit to my small, but growing list of exotic tropical and sub-tropical fruits that I've enjoyed—cherimoya, zapote, durian, and rambutan.
I soon learned that figuring out how to eat a jackfruit was an experience all on its own. I'm told that when a jackfruit is very ripe, the fruit literally just falls away from the fibrous tendrils that hold it in place. But since it's impossible to find a fresh, fully ripened jackfruit in the U.S., I had to dig my hand in and tear the firm fruit away. Inside the bits of fruit there are large seeds, which can be cooked and eaten.
The fruit tasted like a cross between a pineapple, a mango, and a banana. Not as sweet as any of them, but perhaps that's because it wasn't fully ripened. Nonetheless, it was a yummy ending to a delectable Thai meal.