Sunday, April 25, 2010

Palee's Crown - Mesa, Az

While our good friend Seth doesn't post as many reviews as he used to, we still pester him for opinions when he tries new restaurants. At a group dim sum recently, he highly recommended Palee's Crown in Mesa. He did warn us that they loved their heat there, so to be careful when ordering spicy items. We're always up for a great Thai restaurant, so we decided to give them a try. As a bonus, the Entertainment 2010 book had a coupon for Palee's.

We arrived at 7pm on a Friday to an empty restaurant. I'm pretty sure they turned on the lights when they saw us walking up to the front door. As Tara stepped into the restaurant, she stopped abruptly and I nearly walked into her. She was reading a sign on the table in front of the door that said they no longer accepted coupons of any kind. Bummer.

The young waitress told us to sit wherever we liked. We took a booth in the corner and looked over the menu. It was the fairly standard Thai menu with all the usual suspects. We ordered curry puffs, fresh rolls, massaman curry with chicken for Tara, and panang curry with chicken for me.

The curry puffs (crispy puff stuffed with chicken, onion, potato, curry powder, and coconut milk served with cucumber salad) sounded a lot like our beloved Osha Golden Pockets at Osha Thai Cafe. Seth has a nice picture the Osha Golden Pockets. Alas, Palee's curry puffs were different. They had a puff pastry shell instead of the crispy wrapper at Osha. The filling reminded me of the texture of baby food, but I did like them. They aren't as good as the Golden Pockets, though. Tara wasn't a huge fan. The pastry shell merely reminded her of the spectacular pork pastries we'd had at the dim sum at Phoenix Palace, which she is still trying to marry once the legal issues can be resolved.

The fresh roll (rice wrapper stuffed with steamed shrimp, lettuce, mint leaves, carrot, cucumber, and angel hair noodle served with hoisin sauce topped crushed peanut) were OK. They seemed poorly wrapped and mostly lettuce. The sauce seemed more like a spicy peanut sauce than hoisin sauce. Tara really liked the sauce and even had a roll herself, which she usually doesn't with fresh spring rolls.

So far, we weren't terribly impressed with Palee. Then the entrees arrived.

Being mindful of Seth's warning, Tara opted for no spice in her massaman curry (potato, onion, carrot, bell pepper, and peanuts with Massaman curry pasted in coconut milk). She loved it. It had excellent flavor but no heat at all. She was extremely happy with her choice. Everything was perfectly done and she glared at me whenever I took a piece. I heeded her warnings and desisted. She even had enough to bring home for a small snack.

My panang curry (rich Panang curry paste in coconut milk with bell pepper) was also top-notch. I asked for it extremely mild, since we'd been warned about the heat levels. Even at "mild", my mouth was burning and my head sweating in short order. I suffered through it, as the sweet flavor of the curry was just what I look for. I'll try it with no spice on our next visit. I managed to polish off all if mine, despite the heat. Definitely a winner.

We passed on dessert. Our bill came to just under $40 after tax. While a couple groups came in after us, there were never more than two tables including our during our whole visit. This is a shame considering how good their food is. We need to go with our friend JK so he can try it pet-pet hot. He's psychotic like that.

Palee's Crown
1245 W. Baseline Rd,
Mesa, AZ 85202

Friday, April 9, 2010

HDTV Experience So Far

I'm having surprisingly little buyer's remorse over my HDTV purchases after nearly two months.

The Sony HDTV works awesome for a lower-end model. I lucked-out in it having a matte screen finish given that there are windows on the opposite side of the room that can be bright during the say. The picture quality is fantastic and you really notice the extra details in full HDTV shows. Even when I use my old SD TiVo as a source or watch SD channels, it doesn't look too horrible. Even Tara, who is not really impressed with all my toys, admitted that she can see the difference and does like it.

The LG Blu-ray was discontinued literally within a week of my buying it. Luckily it's replacement in the LG lineup only offers a few new things and I don't care about them. I actually like the BDP390's front panel design better. The new BDP570's whole front panel has to be down if you have a USB drive plugged in. My BDP390 has a slot cut-out in the front panel that you just need to remove a small plastic plug to insert the USB drive. Speaking of which, I've downloaded AVI files to the drive and once you plug it in, the Blu-ray player automatically discovers the movies on there and you can play them. A very nice feature. The picture quality is excellent, no matter what source you are using. The built-in wireless N adapter easily streams Netflix programming in high-def. It's a great player all around.

I still only have a Cox Cable HD DVR. I still can't quite afford the new TiVo boxes yet. Picture quality is quite good. I had to install a signal amplifier in order to be able to plug more than just the DVR. This house has horrible cable signal strength. Luckily the amp does the job really well. I lose the On-Demand features as the amp isn't bi-directional, but it's an acceptable trade-off.

The el cheapo HDMI cables continue to do a fine job. I don't see any issues with the signal at all when using them. The Sony TV can actually shut down the DVR when you switch picture sources away from the HDMI port the DVR uses. Quite cool.

I've even plugged my laptop into the TV with a VGA cable to watch Hulu content. Even that was very good. One of these days I hope to either get a laptop with an HDMI port or just build a little Home Theater PC (HTPC) to watch Internet content on it. That's a little ways off, though.

All in all, the HDTV upgrade of the home theater went smoothly and I'm quite satisfied. It's not an end-all be-all, balls-to-the-wall home theater setup, but it looks and sounds great and that's really all I care about.