Thai Grill is a simple sushi house and Thai restaurant located in the former IHOP on Millburn Avenue. The quiet, subdued atmosphere is ideal for a night out with old friends.
I met my friend Lindsey Kmit for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in ages, and spent nearly two hours catching up. The waitress didn’t rush us as we mulled over the menu. And mull we did.
We both wanted to find a low calorie option without sacrificing any flavor. By the time we ordered, we had quizzed our waitress on just about every menu item. I ordered a batch of my favorite appetizer, edamame ($3.95), to snack on while we considered the many options.
Next we ordered a summer roll ($6.95) and mango seaweed salad ($7.95). The summer roll was similar to a spring roll but wrapped in fresh rice paper, rather than fried, stuffed with streamed shrimp and fresh green veggies. They came with a plum-sesame dipping sauce. The sauce was the plate’s saving grace, adding a hint of sweetness to the otherwise bland roll.
We were surprised when the seaweed salad came out. We were expecting the mango to be diced and incorporated into the salad. Instead, slices of not-quite-ripe mango were separate from the small seaweed salad. Seaweed salad is one of Lindsey’s favorites, and she said this take on the dish was more oily than usual.
By the time we finally ordered our entrees, we knew the menu inside and out. The waitress told us exactly which vegetables are in each stir-fry, many include bamboo shoots and shitake mushrooms; what oils go into the sauces, what substitutions can be made (almost any dish can be prepared vegetarian). She laughed as we seesawed between several choices, and finally decided to share two plates.
The waitress, and Lindsey, had another good-natured laugh as I attempted to pronounce our order: Gai Pad Prik Bai Krapao and Gai Pad King. It was definitely amusing.
The Gai Pad Prik Bai Karpao (stir-fried chicken with chilly paste, peppers, onions and fresh basil leaves, $10.50) tasted very much like sausage and peppers served at many summer barbeques. The thick sauce had a smoky flavor and a slight kick, but only as an aftertaste. Lindsey said the square pieces of chicken breast were incredibly tender, some of the best she has had in a long time.
While we enjoyed the first plate, it paled in comparison with the delectable Gai Pad King (chicken or beef sautéed with ginger, mushrooms, onions, and peppers in a soy bean sauce, $10.50). We substituted tofu. There was just the right amount of ginger without overpowering the other flavors. The soybean sauce was ultra light, and the vegetables and tofu were juicy and tender.
Overall, the meal was good but not great. The Gai Pad King was the definite highlight. Beyond the food, the atmosphere was pleasant. Even as the tables around us started to fill up, the mood remained calm. Everything is reasonably priced. As a B.Y.O., dinner for two can easily be enjoyed for less than $50.