Thu is currently on tour with his band, The Singer and The Songwriter, and he is chewing and reviewing from the road…
We did not expect to find delicious, authentic Thai food in Salem, OR, but a quick Yelp search revealed Big Blue Thai BBQ as the #1 spot for dinner near our Air BnB. In the parking lot of a Salem strip mall, near an antique store and some accounting and realty offices is a little blue food cart. A couple of mismatched patio chairs and tables surround the cart and a chalkboard menu is propped outside the ordering window.
Obviously, I had my heart set on the #1 “Super Best Combo,” but at $16 I had to reconsider. I have to constantly remind myself that being on tour is not the same as being on vacation. It’s work, and it’s often pretty tight budget-wise, so I can’t go all out at every restaurant, even if the dish claims to be the best or, in this case, the “super best.” So I had to decide between the 1/3 rack of smoked baby back ribs or the Tasty Thai BBQ pork. The deciding factor for me was the Papaya Salad, so I ordered the 1/3 rack of ribs and Rachel ordered the Thai BBQ pork.
They prepare all of the food fresh to order, so there’s a short wait, which they were very nice about (apologizing and reassuring us that our food was being made to order), but honestly, it was about 1/4 of the wait time that you get at any average LA food truck. And since there was no line, it was no problem at all. When I got my food, the woman made sure to tell me that the sauce provided was a dipping sauce and NOT a salad dressing for the Papaya Salad. Now, I’m not a monster, so I certainly wouldn’t just douse my food in sauces willy nilly, but I appreciated the fact that they take care to show people how best to enjoy the food. I’m convinced that there are some foods that benefit from a quick “do’s and don’ts.” I also appreciated that she wasn’t super intense about it in the, “Is this your first time dining with us?” way that servers love to ask, and then proceed to tell you the very unique way that they like serve things family style. ANYWAY, I got my ribs and they were… EPIC.
The dipping sauce was a vinegar, lime, garlic sauce that was tangy and acidic which went perfectly with the smoky, juicy ribs. 1/3 rack ended up being 4 ribs which was plenty as it came with the spicy, refreshing papaya salad (I got medium heat, which wasn’t very spicy – I might up it to “hot” next time), and a heaping portion of white rice. Pro Tip: grab some of the sweet and sour Sambal sauce near the pickup window – it goes with EVERYTHING. Basically, I was in Thai BBQ heaven. This tiny food cart, though unassuming, should be a destination for anyone seeking out delicious, authentic Thai BBQ in Salem, OR.