The transportation horrors of getting to Chicago behind me, I had two impressive dinners this weekend. The first, at Green Zebra, was far more enjoyable but I will post about it later. The second dinner, a 12-course menu at Arun’s Thai, was impressive but less satisfying overall. But it was far more photogenic. Or at least better lit. Here are four of the 12 courses.

Appetizer #4: The Emerald Sea

This is really the dish I was going to devote a whole post to. Gotta love a dish that has a poetic name, although I keep mis-remembering it as The Emerald City or The Emerald Isle. This photo does not do an adequate job of describing the exquisite greenness of the pea sauce base – more jade than emerald to my eye – swirled with black bean sauce. The single shrimp is wrapped in taro noodles and balanced on a nest of fried noodle with steamed noodle within, and a snap pea pod on top. The shrimp was almost irrelevant next to all that springy green pea sauce, which I mopped up with the noodles.

Appetizer #5: Beef Salad

Here is where the back-room vegetable artists start to show off. A perfectly done slice of sirloin on top of some crispy chiles, onions and arugula with chili sauce on top, it’s fittingly accessorized with a hot-rod flame made of carrot.

Entree #3: Crispy Fish with Tempura Vegetables and Disturbingly Life-Like Carrot Goldfish

We were advised not to eat the goldfish because there were toothpicks holding it together. Relatively typical chinese-style fried fish with tempura-like broccoli (broccolini?) and zucchini, garnished with the incredible goldfish and some kind of seaweed.

Dessert #2: Lychee Sorbet with Poached Pear

The final course, a palate-clearing sorbet of lychee in a pastry cup with some poached pear and berry sauce.

I washed it all down with a nice Grüner Veltliner.