What do you get when you combine the Yelp Elite Squad, holiday cheer, ugly sweaters, and a full family-style multi-course sit down Thai dinner? Sheer awesomeness, that's what. And regardless of how hideous some of the sweaters were, the evening was downright gorgeous.
On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 80+ members of the Yelp Elite Squad got bundled up in their holiday best (or worst!) and braved the cold to take a trip to the back-streets of Bangkok at Soi9 Thai Eatery! Mon, the owner of Soi9, one of Portland's newest and more unique Thai restaurants, invited the Yelp Elite squad down to enjoy a nine-course family-style meal. With seatings at both 5:30pm and 7:30pm (yup, back to back!), let's just say that those atrocious holiday sweaters were a lot more stuffed ont the way out than the way in.
To start off the night, the Soi9 crew dialed up the holiday cheer with a spicy Tom Yum cocktail made with house-infused New Deal Portland 88 vodka! Crafted specially for this event, the spicy lime drink was an instant hit. For those preferring a nice, dark Holiday ale, Ninkasi's delicious double alt Sleighr and their always-awesome Total Domination were on heavy rotation.
Drinks in hand, Yelpers found their seats and were treated first to a bowl of soup: beef noodle for the meat eaters, and some tom kha for the vegetarians/vegans (who merited their own specially-designed all-vegan menu!). Next up came a full set of appetizers, including Moo Ping (Street style grilled pork on skewers), Yum Mama Gai, (Spicy noodle salad with ground chicken – minus chicken for vegetarians), Koa Gang Tod (red ciurry rice samosas – veg), and Salad Rolls for the veggies. And this was just the start.
After some deep breaths and pants-loosening, the main-courses started up in earnest. Shared-plates of Soi9's signature Panang Nua (a traditional panang beef curry with peanut and a hint of kaffir lime leaves), Gang Keaw Wan (green curry with chicken or vegan), Soi 9 Noodle (Soi 9’s original noodle dish – noodles tossed in sweet soy sauces then topped with crispy chicken, calamari, shrimp and mussels – tofu for vegetarians), Pad Pak (stirred fried mixed vegetables with or without chicken), and Phuket Noodles (Mon’s home town famous noodle: stir-fried egg noodle with chicken, pork, calamari and shrimp). Whew! If that didn't make you full just reading about it, no worries! To finish out the meal, a dessert of purple sticky rice with coconut custard (shredded coconut for the veggies).
Not only was this nine-course meal served up in a blindingly accurate fashion by a troupe of amazing servers, but it was done so in back-to-back seatings, each for between 40 and 44 Yelp Elites and guests! So once the 5:30 seating ended at 7:15, the tables were flipped and ready to go again by 7:45 and we were off and running on round two. And the kitchen never lagged. It was a feat to behold.
The Yelpers weren't the only people getting fed on this cold, winter night either. As part of the event those charitable Yelpers brought more than a few boxes worth of non-perishable food for the Oregon Food Bank to help feed those in need. Oh, and those holiday sweaters? Yeah, there were prizes for the best. At the 5:30 seating, Matt T easily scored the top prize – a gorgeous snow globe – with his atrocious gold and black sweater. For the 7:30 prize, Tamara's over-the-top hand-made sweater with an actual stocking hanging from the front (filled with hideous stocking stuffers) took home the light-up musical nativity scene. Honorable mentions went to Peter T, Ron T and so many others that showed up with the goods on. The cheer is strong with these folks!
A huge thanks goes out to Mon from Soi9 for throwing down the serious food gauntlet. That's the most food I've ever seen at a Yelp event, ever, anywhere. It was increidble. Props to her staff too for doing the best job they could with our overwhelming force of dual-seatings. A giant debt of gratitude goes to Tom and Sarah New Deal Distillery for their Portland 88 Vodka and to Morgan, Jamie, Marty and all the fine folks at Ninkasi who have shown us so much love at this, and other parties in 2010. Props to Miss Tiffany N and, as always, Hilary B for the help with the party. And finally, thanks to you, the Yelp Elite Squad, for making Portland Yelp the best Yelp community ever.
Until 2011, have a happy and safe holiday, and we'll see you on the flip side.
–Don "Santa" B.