At Uptown's CrushCraft, the Best Stuff Isn't on the Main Menu and May Never Be

When you walk into CrushCraft, there are two menus to peruse. One looks a little like the menu board at Chipotle, with 10 or so dishes you'll mostly recognize. The other menu is scrawled on a a series of sheets of butcher paper that serve as a sort of proving ground for the restaurant.

There are tofu fries and spring rolls and tom ka gai, which isn't always available. There's also a sheet that displays two seemingly random dishes, one of which is the pla phat pik pictured above. Chef Paul Singhapong comes up with dishes, draws up descriptions and tracks their sales for a period of time. Strong performers are considered for the permanent menu.

The losers are kicked to the curb, which is why I hope this stir fry performs well. It could be removed from the menu by the end of the week and then you'll miss out on salty catfish with a firm bite and a red curry that imparts some serious heat. Kaffir lime leaves are deep fried to replace their unpleasant leathery texture with a satisfying crunch, and bits of eggplant, various chiles and pickled aromatics make each bite as interesting as the one before it.

And if you don't get there in time and the pla phat pik is missing, don't pass over the dishes that have replaced it. There's a decent chance the best cooking coming out of the kitchen any moment will only be available for an instant.

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