Evening dinner review
Does Salt Lake City really need another Thai restaurant? Surely we now have plenty of places to grab a spicy green curry or chicken satay. The owners of Tasty Thai certainly seem to think there is plenty of space in the marketplace, and what was once the former ‘Bada Bean’ location, now houses this new Thai eatery. The restaurant space itself is smart and simple. An open kitchen commands most attention at the front of the restaurant, all stainless steel and sizzling dishes. A subdued sprinkling of bric-a-brac dots wall space, but the room is largely dominated by the tall windows that wrap the restaurant looking out towards Liberty Park.
On the evening we visited, the restaurant seemed to be doing a small (but decent) amount of trade, to be expected for someplace so new. Several diners stopped by for quickly prepared take out orders requested from the very congenial staff. Just enough diners peppered the restaurant. It was comfortable, but not chaotic.
A quick query with our host and waiter confirmed the lack of alcohol for the time being, but we were assured a liquor license is being pursued. At any rate, we settled on a mix of cola, Thai Iced Tea, and Jasmine tea. As we perused the menu, I was excited to see a number of more unusual items listed. Two examples are Hoy Obb (steamed mussels with basil and lemongrass in a hot and sour broth) and Yum Watercress (crispy fried watercress mixed with chicken, shrimp, squid, and cashew nut in spicy lime sauce).
As is the tradition of family-style dining, we opted to sample a few of the appetizers, and sat back as the kitchen worked their magic. Thankfully for our growling bellies, the food came up super quick. The entire meal start to finish probably took an hour at most, we all remarked on the speed. An order of Fish Cakes ($6.95) pleased everyone:
An acquired taste texturally for some, personally I love these slightly spongy, yet highly fragrant rounds of fish. Next up was the
Crispy Vegetarian Spring Roll ($5.95):
There isn’t much one can say about a spring roll. These were as good as any vegi versions I have tried before. They were satisfying, yet light and crispy and the lemon-flavored sauce served with them was addictive. The Deep Fried Meatballs ($5.95) were one of our more unusual picks from the menu:
These “Look-Chin-Tod” are available in both pork and beef. We went with the beef variety, which proceeded to elicit a number of curious responses, mainly due to their unusual texture. After several bites, we decided the best description would be “kinda like hotdogs texture-wise”. By the time we had reached that conclusion, we had run out of meatballs, a sign that we had also decided they were pretty tasty too.
One of the entrees we selected was from the “grill” section and was a plate of Chicken Satay ($6.95):
Four big juicy skewers, a quintessential Thai dish, and as good as most I have tried. My only complaint was a personal preference. I like my peanut sauce on the spicy side and this was on the sweeter end of the scale. Perplexingly, the dish came served with two pieces of toasted white bread. We still aren’t sure why, if anyone out there can illuminate me, please do! Our next entree was marked on the menu with two chillies. Our waiter was very keen to check that we liked spicy food, and as self-confessed chilli heads we plowed onwards regardless. Flat Noodles with Mixed Seafood ($13.95):
A word of caution. When Tasty Thai informs you a dish is spicy, they really do mean spicy. Americanized-Thai food this is not. This dish could best be described as incendiary. A constant refill on the water glasses was needed to negotiate this plate, which indeed it demanded, being thoroughly delicious. The mixed seafood in question was shrimp, octopus and scallop. Mind you I think we only spied one scallop in there. The octopus was a little on the rubbery side too, I’d have the dish again but maybe change proteins.
A particular high point of the meal was the Deep Fried Tilapia with Chilli, Garlic, and Basil Sauce ($13.95):
In fact, this dish was something of a revelation. The chunks of white fish were coated in a light, crisp batter. It was instantly apparent the fish was fried to perfection in fresh, clean oil. There wasn’t the the slightest hint of excess grease. I’m usual one to eschew fried dishes, but I couldn’t stop returning to this plate over and over. The fiery chilli based wasn’t quite as hot as the noodle dish, but still packed a big spicy punch. It’s not often a dish really sticks in my mind, and this one did, a real delight of a dish.
We rounded out the meal with a sticky rice and mango dessert:
For three apps, three entrees, three non-alcoholic beverages an dessert we spent just a touch over $65. A bargain in my book, especially considering two of our entrees were seafood. As is quite common, we over ordered, so had a slew of left overs to take home for the day after.
In retrospect, it seems SLC really does need another Thai restaurant after all. Provided that the restaurant in question offers fresh, vibrant flavours. Which is exactly what Tasty Thai did on our visit. We all agreed that a second visit is in order in the near future, and we all saw other items we can’t wait to try on the menu. I hope those dishes stand up, as Tasty Thai has all the right things going for it to become a regular and recommended dining spot.
1302 S 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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