When Gabriel and I arrived for dinner at Thai Spice and Sushi, there were 3 booths and one table filled. All of the other booths and tables were empty. Our host began leading us to a table for 2, smack in the middle of the restaurant and we asked to instead be seated at one of the booths for 2 people. He paused, uncomfortably, and told us he had to go check with his manager. Huh? The manager came back and said, “I’m sorry but we need to seat you at a table.” I asked, “Oh, are the booths all reserved?” and she replied “No, but we need to evenly divide the work of the waitstaff, and the other waiter already has 2 booths to wait on. ” I was a bit taken aback by her response and pushed further asking, “What if suddenly 4 other parties come in for dinner, you will eventually seat people in those booths, right?” and she confirmed. She then told us that one of the other booths of people looked like they might be finishing up and we could wait for their table. Am I in the twilight zone? What kind of weirdo service rule is she following, especially in a fairly new restaurant where she should be trying to create a welcoming environment. Anyway, we really didn’t want the middle-of-the-room table so we decided to wait the 10 minutes it took to sit at a booth. This did not bode well for whatever was to follow.
Luckily, when we WERE finally seated, we quickly learned that our waiter was awesome. He was polite, funny, kind and knowledgeable. That *kind* of made up for it, but honestly, this manager really needs to re-think her approach.
We decided to share a few things including the basil fresh rolls (which had fresh veggies, basil and shrimp inside), the Thai salad with peanut dressing, and the shrimp Pad Thai. I thought the rolls and salad/dressing were all awesome..The Pad Thai was so-so. It actually had kind of a ketchup-y flavor to me. I know some recipes call for ketchup, but this was just too much…and it overpowered the whole dish. It wasn’t awful- just definitely not the best example of Pad Thai I’ve had before. When the waiter told us that the chef is actually FROM Thailand, I couldn’t help but think it was a shame that the recipe he or she learned was clearly not an authentic one.
Overall, our experience here was okay. As fantastic as our waiter was, the initial refusal to let us sit where we wanted really bugged me and may sway whether or not we go back. They do have some great sounding lunch specials on their menu and it might be worth one more shot…Have you been? What did you think?
Gabriel and I were aiming for a Thai restaurant in Bradenton that had been recommended to us. Luckily for us, after getting lost trying to find it, we finally arrived to find that it was closed. We did a quick search and found Thai Palace was nearby and had great reviews. Okay, change of plans and off we went!
During lunch, entrees come with either soup or salad. We both opted for the salad and when it arrived, we worried that it would be an indication of the entree portions. The salad consisted of approximately 3 bites of iceburg lettuce, one tomato, a slice of cucumber and a few shreds of carrot. Not exactly enough to take the hunger edge off. The peanut dressing was good, the basic one that is typically found in Thai restaurants, but not exciting enough to make us very optimistic about what was coming next.
When the entrees arrived soon after we finished our minuscule salads, we were pleasantly surprised right away. The presentation was lovely with a beautiful orchid and a fish shaped dish, and the aroma from both dishes was awesome. The pad thai with squid was excellent. I can easily say it was the BEST Pad Thai I’ve had since moving from NYC to Florida, and that alone is worth the 30 minute drive it took to get there. The balance of the salty, sweet, peanut sauce and the fresh sauteed squid couldn’t be better. The creaminess of a light coating of the sauce didn’t overpower or smother the consistency of the noodles. Big yum.
We also shared a delicious Panang Curry with Tofu. The curry sauce was blended with coconut milk and peanuts. The various fresh vegetables included carrot, mushroom, snowwpea, baby corn, bell pepper, celery, and zucchini. This sauce had so much complexity to it and we both couldn’t get enough. We actually ordered a second helping of rice- something that we really never do, because we couldn’t possibly let all of the extra sauce go to waste.
I was VERY happy that the little, boring salads were not at all representative of the abilities of the chef here. Our meal, overall, was far and away the best Thai food we’ve had in a while- and we go out for Thai food frequently. Although the drive is a little far, there is no question that both of us want to go back asap. Bravo Thai Palace!
I believe I have come up with a TOTAL winner. I LOVE Pad Thai, but the calories and fat in a normal serving make it very hard for me to justify- especially with an upcoming wedding and a commitment to stay on track with Weight Watchers allowances.
I’m a BIG fan of PB2 by Bell Plantations http://www.bellplantation.com/. It’s basically powdered peanut butter than you can reconstitute with water. It removes all of the oils and fats and you’re left with very peanut buttery tasting yumminess for very few calories. I have used it in as regular peanut butter, but haven’t really done a lot of cooking or experimenting with it yet, except for mixing it in with frozen bananas to make pb/banana ice cream, or making awesome smoothies with it. I had been looking at recipes on their website for inspiration and after reading a few of their Thai Noodles recipes, decided to take that idea and run with it….and my experiment was a major success. It will definitely be repeated soon. As always, my recipes are just loose guidelines since I don’t really measure anything out…Interpret and adjust it however you’d like.
Here’s the concept!
For the sauce:
PB2 (about 6 Tablespoons)
Brown rice vinegar
Bragg’s Amino Acids (or light soy sauce if you don’t have Bragg’s)
Mix all of that up in a bowl or measuring cup and keep adding hot water in tiny bits until you get to the consistency you want. It should be semi-thick so it will coat the noodles.
Meanwhile, stir fry the following in a wok with a little coconut oil. (I julienned all of the veggies, but you don’t really have to. It just looks prettier that way.)
And then throw in a bag of WELL- RINSED and lightly boiled (for 1 minute) kelp noodles like these: http://www.kelpnoodles.com/
or miracle noodles like these: http://www.miraclenoodle.com/
I can’t stress enough how important it is to rinse either of those noodles before cooking them.
Toss everything together and then pour the sauce over the top and mix well.
Thinly slice some cucumbers and chop some peanuts to top each dish with and VIOLA! Low fat, low cal, AMAZING tasting Pad Thai. Enjoy! You’re welcome!
I should really open a cafe one of these days 🙂
I am a runner. My motto is, “I run so I can eat.” For anyone else who is a runner, you probably understand that on tough miles you sometimes have to silently chant mantras over and over to keep going. One of my mantras is, “sticky rice. sticky rice. sticky rice”. It motivates me to keep running, to finish whatever challenge I’ve set out on and look forward to getting home to order in from Land Northeast Thai. My favorites from them are: the land salad with beets and delicious peanut sauce, the massman curry chicken (with, of course, a side of sticky rice), the satay appetizer with 3 different skewers of deliciousness, and the mixed appetizers- which gives you a nice sampling of puffy things and dumpling things with 3 different sauces. I often make a meal out of 2 apps, or 1 entree, or I order in an app and an entree and can get 2 full dinners out of it. Whatever you do though, make SURE to save room for the mango sticky rice dessert. As a crazy chocoholic, it’s rare that I stray dessert-wise, but this one? Wow. This one is good enough that the thought of it alone can get me through a 10 mile run.