Why Little Uncle Let Me Down Today

Before you choose to read on or not, full disclaimer: This is a rant.

I was craving some Little Uncle today in Pioneer Square. It was 1:30 and I was well-past my personal lunch expiration date. I was ravenous in other words. Despite that, and the fact that I wasn’t wearing terribly comfortable shoes, I walked the 10-minute walk there instead of grabbing something really close-by.

I ordered the khao mun gai: poached free range chicken, garlic & chicken fat rice, winter melon broth and spicy soy-ginger sauce for $10.95. When it came out, I tasted the sauce first to make sure it was sufficiently spicy for my taste today. Though flavorful and with enough kick to uphold its claim as “spicy,” I still just wanted more heat. I walked up to the guy at the register and asked for some hot sauce – “Sriracha, chili paste, whatever you got.” He stuttered and said something quietly that I couldn’t make out – and then co-owner PK rescued him by explaining to me that “those sauces wouldn’t work with the dish.” Instead, she told me she’d bring me a spicier version of the same sauce. Ok, sure. I wasn’t in the mood to fight and, yes, I get that this is a delicate dish that could be easily overpowered by certain kinds of hot sauces. I’ve spent plenty of time in Thailand and appreciate the complexity of flavors, hot and not. But sometimes you just want what you want, y’know?

So I waited a couple minutes, wanting desperately to dig in but really yearning for the spicier sauce. She came over with something that had more hot peppers in it and which she said was more vinegary. It was, indeed, more vinegary and sufficiently spicy. She even came by again to ask how I liked it. She really is nice and, yes, it probably was the right sauce for that dish but I can’t stand it when a restaurant tells you how you NEED to eat – especially when the sauces I requested were readily available. The whole situation could have been made tenable by them simply saying: “Yes, of course, here’s some [fill in the blank hot sauce], but can we also suggest this one?”

The added burn was the skimpy portion. I basically had one big plate of rice with not many pieces of chicken on it (finely poached though they were) and a few spoonfuls of broth with maybe a couple pieces of melon. That, plus the extra $2.50 on a soda and the long-ish, dejected walk back in my shitty shoes (yes I know I can’t blame my poor wardrobe choice on the restaurant) and my belly still half-empty made me really grumpy. And I wasn’t just still a little hungry as in: “Mmm, I could use a bite of something sweet to top it off” but as in: “Damn, I could eat an entire sandwich from Salumi still.” Little Uncle: I appreciate your food and your knowledge and of course I’ll be back -- but for $15 and change I want to walk away satisfied and, in this particular case, with my mouth on fire.

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