Walk in and ask for a table at Montien in the Theater District, and chances are you’ll be fine with the menu. All the standard American-Thai classics are here: an assortment of deep-fried appetizers, noodles, and mild stir fries that taste like Chinese take-out with a handful of basil leaves mixed in — a little something for the pre-theater crowd that Junior can enjoy and that won’t offend Grandma. But give the hostess a knowing look before sitting down and say the magic words “Thai menu, please,” and you’ve got a whole different bowl of curry on your hands. Spring rolls make way for house-cured raw pork sausage; chicken wings disappear in lieu of spicy mussel pancakes; shrimp salads turn into insanely hot pickled bamboo; and seafood kamikaze gets pushed out by frog legs in hot basil sauce.
The best cure for the common cold? Fire-pot soups. Served family-style (large enough to serve four-to-six people as an appetizer), each soup comes in a ring-shaped bowl with a live fire in the center, designed to keep the soup boiling-hot until the last drop. Though varieties run the gamut from shrimp to pork intestine, my personal favorite, en-toon-mor-fai, is beef tendon in a sour chili-spiked broth. The tendon itself I could take or leave; its real purpose is to supply plenty of gelatin, giving the pungent broth an outrageously unctuous mouth feel. The fiery chilies are there to keep you constantly sipping: as soon as you swallow, their heat kicks in, prompting you to fill your mouth with another bite. Just make sure you have some rice ready for when you finish the last spoonful. With its aromatherapy-esque flavors and sinus-clearing heat, Montien’s fire pot and Boston’s winter weather are a match made in heaven.
Available for $16.95 at Montien, 63 Stuart Street, in Boston. Call 617.338.5600.
: Hot Plate
, Performing Arts