Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thai Restaurant

Few restaurants have a more generic-sounding name than Waverly's aptly-named Thai Restaurant. But as I am sure various reviewers have pointed out before, the food is anything but generic. Various friends of mine have gone before and have usually left satisfied.

Eric and I headed to Thai Restaurant on Saturday night for a taste of what he has said was some pretty good and relatively inexpensive Thai food. We arrived after one or two large parties, so we hoped the service would not be terribly slow. The back entrance to the wood-grained dining room gives the illusion of a small and cozy restaurant. Though a little cramped, there is room for several parties. This doesn't really slow down the kitchen, though our waitress was a little on the slow side (no doubt something she'll grow out of as she learns the ropes).

We started with some drinks - Eric got the my tai and I opted for the passable Chang Beer - and followed that up with a few appetizers (these and more on the menu, posted here). Eric ordered the shredded green papaya salad (don't recall the price) and gai sawan ($8).

The salad was tangy and sweet but not my favorite dish, though that's really more because of the papaya in general than the recipe itself. The gai sawan is a fascinating dish, as Eric explained it to me: four chicken wings, but with all the meat and skin pushed up to one end as if to resemble a drumstick. Inside that crispy skin is stuffed a small amount of crab meat. The end result was fattening, scary and delicious, particularly with the sweet and sour sauce that came with it. This is something to order even though you know your waistline will regret it later. But since we shared the gai sawan, two drumstick-wings per person isn't going to do that much damage to me.

Gai sawan, flanking my tom ka gai soup

As I've said before, my measure for how good a Thai restaurant may be is how its tom ka gai ($5) measures up to others I have eaten. Thai Restaurant's tom ka gai is one of the less spicy ones I have eaten, but that is made up for by the richness of its coconut milk broth. In addition, it had edible pieces of lemongrass, which I rarely find used in this soup as anything other than a flavor enhancer. Their tom ka gai is one of the better ones I have eaten lately.

My entrée was the luscious and fiery pad panang curry ($14). A bit different than their standard panang curry, it adds lime leaves to the coconut milk and bell peppers already in it. As many Thai places will do, Thai Restaurant varies the price of this and other entrées based on the meat or lack thereof that you request with it: far more than just beef, chicken, vegetarian and pork (the last being my choice), you can also order it with shrimp, mussels, duck, scallops and squid (price range: $13 to $17). Other entrées, such as their hot and sour dishes, include such diverse additions as tofu and Chinese sausage. Some of those entrées come a little pricier than their typical $12 to $17 stir fries and curries, such as market price fish (upwards of $30 for whole-fried rockfish or flounder, for instance) or their crispy duck, which Eric got (also delicious).

The crispy duck

As for my pork pad panang curry, I needed a fair bit of rice as Thai Restaurant does not joke around with the heat. It was quite rich with coconut milk and panang curry sauce. In fact, the coconut milk seemed to overpower the dish just a little bit, but not enough that I wouldn't recommend it. It was quite rich, as was most of my food, so I had to get a take-home container. Strange as it seems, the curry was actually less fiery the second day around. It was better the second day.

I can see myself going back to Thai Restaurant. It seems like the hip spot that both many locals and JHU, Loyola and Notre Dame students head to regularly. That's not why I would go back - a crowded restaurant usually means you won't get your food for a while, as I have found. I would have to go back for more of the rich Thai food I got this past weekend, specifically that tom ka gai and those evil little drumstick-looking things (that would be the gai sawan).

Thai on Urbanspoon


theminx said...

I haven't been to Thai Restaurant in a long time, but have been jonesin' for Thai food recently so that might have to change. I really *really* miss Bangkok Place.