Baan Thai

1924 SW Broadway, 224-Thai

On a visit to Baan Thai, I overheard a waiter explaining to a customer that the chef will not make their entrée too mild, as that would upset the balance between sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors, which is the essence of Thai cuisine. The Tom Kha coconut soup is a great example of these solid gold principles. It not only balances the four flavor attributes, but also introduces each one with aplomb. I enjoyed the wonderfully fresh cherry tomatoes that lurked within, and the building heat from the dried whole chilies and Thai pepper flakes. The fried tofu appetizer was also very well executed, the complex dipping sauce actually more so than the tofu squares. The Panang curry was also well balanced; too often this dish is too sweet. It benefited from crispy-fried basil shreds. Other standouts include the subtle Pan-Fried Noodles, made with sautéed cabbage and iceberg lettuce (don't scoff--it was addictive) and the tender Pork with Garlic and Black Pepper. PL

Mama's Corner Café

519 SE Morrison, 233-3869

"Your hosts: Pavel & Olga Shavlovsky," reads the top of the menu at Mama's. Pavel and Olga have created a menu that is basically American, but which also features some fun Ukrainian twists. Items such as Beef Stroganoff, Ukranian Cabbage Rolls, and a Hibachi Chicken Melt are thrown in with standards like Pork Chops, Country Fried Steak with real cream gravy, and a Rueben Melt. Like any good diner, the menu is completely overwhelming because it offers so many items. There are 11 breakfast options, six omelet specials, eight variations on pancakes and waffles, and a bunch of side orders. Everything is incredibly cheap and delicious; even the Steak and Eggs is only eight bucks. Lunch is equally comprehensive, with 12 different sandwich combinations. Most are turkey, steak, or beef-centric, and all are incredibly filling. KD