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Davis, California

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Dining in Davis: Taste of Thai

With an abundance of restaurants bombarding downtown Davis, it is not surprising that Taste of Thai manages to sprout above the weeds of other Thai restaurants.

Located at 301 G Street, Taste of Thai provides a modern take on traditional Thai food and the dining experience. They have two locations in Sacramento and another in Roseville. According to their sign outside, they are dedicated to providing fresh, healthy and MSG-free food. And boy, do they do so.

My friend, a self-proclaimed Thai food expert, and I went for dinner on a Tuesday night around 6 p.m., painfully aware of our sole existence at the restaurant. However, in half an hour’s time, the restaurant was buzzing with patrons of the elderly sort as if they knew something that we didn’t. Once our food came, we were let in on the secret.

Previously the restaurant Noodle Express, Taste of Thai transformed the same location into something special within a few months. As my friend and I walked into the restaurant, a host welcomed us. Accustomed to Noodle Express’s rundown establishment, we moved past the wooden panel. The newly furnished décor transported me into a completely new building. Completely re-paneled with the same rich, amber color on every wall, it was a stark contrast to the blindly white walls of Noodle Express. The addition of the wooden tables and red mahogany chairs with white vinyl coverings only added to the traditional feeling one gets from all wooden décor. Even the ceiling fans matched.

Looking over the finely made menu, it became obvious that the owners knew exactly what they were doing. The menu covers almost all the typical traditional dishes that other Thai restaurants tend to have: curry to fried rice to noodle dishes. They offer different choices of meats as well as a vegetarian option for almost every dish. As a relatively boring restaurant attendee, I usually order the same dish at every restaurant. With Thai restaurants, I go with the Pad Thai because I am never disappointed and my inexperienced taste buds can’t handle the intense heat associated with Thai food.

But, I was feeling adventurous and one dish caught my eye. As our server promptly arrived to take our orders, I decided to get the Evil Jungle Noodle. Mainly because the coconut and red curry sauce sounded good, but also because the name was just too interesting not to get. I asked for medium spice, with no expectations of how hot it would be. My friend ordered her usual: mild yellow curry with sticky rice. We also ordered an appetizer, fried spring rolls.

The fried spring rolls arrived first. I’m not one to give absolutes and say that something was the best I have ever had, but for these, I have to make an exception. Three spring rolls served on a bed of lettuce with a spicy, sweet sauce never tasted so good. With a light, flaky crust on the outside and crunchy, fresh vegetables on the inside, it was the best decision I made all day. Even though it said fried, it did not taste like it, since it lacked the greasy feeling associated with such appetizers.

After a relatively short wait, our main dishes arrived. My Evil Jungle Noodles arrived in a leaf-shaped dish covered with long noodles, crunchy vegetables and red-specked cream sauce. For $9, the serving size was moderate, the flavor was not. The coconut cream sauce flooded the dish, making me wish I had ordered rice as well. Its rich, complex flavor did not let on to its secretive spicy kicker at the end of each bite, which surprised but pleased me as well. It only made me cry for about three minutes, a short amount of tears for my spice-intolerant tongue.

My friend’s yellow curry dish, on the other hand, held no surprises. Not a bad thing – she was impressed with its crisp produce and flavorful sauce.

Overall, our experience at Taste of Thai made us plan another trip there in the future. It was that good. My only regret was not ordering the chef’s special, a garlic lamb dish, since the $13 price tag initially scared me away. But considering the quality of my own dish, I could only imagine it is worth the price.

Our meal, totaled with tip, cost around $30. For an appetizer and two entrees, that is a relatively cheap date night for great food.

For those of you how enjoy high-quality Thai food in an intimate, traditional setting, head on over to Taste of Thai. You can check out their lunch and dinner menus on their web site at www.tasteofthaisac.net.

NICK MARKWITH can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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