700 Nutt Road
Phoenixville Plaza, #730
When most people contemplate ingesting Thai cuisine, various unpleasant visions of fiery peristaltic indisposition generally dance through their heads. And while it is true that Thai food can be very spicy, indeed, this is certainly not true of all dishes. And most restaurants are more than willing, at the customer's request, to tone things down a bit. In actuality, however, Thai cuisine is a marvelous mélange of colors, tastes, and textures, as well as an artistic harmonization of the four main contrasting flavors: salt, sour, spice, and sweet.
If you've yet to sample the wonderful rewards of authentic Thai cookery, Thai Place might be an excellent place to begin. And don't be put off by the bland-leading-the-bland strip mall exterior... there's magic just across the threshold. The interior is immaculate, boasting a wall of sparkling mirrors, paintings, tapestries, and other Thai artifacts. Even the attractive jade green flatware is imported from Thailand.
Pristinely pleasant the surroundings may be, but it is the food that keeps the restaurant's many loyal patrons - this writer included - coming back for more. Ingredients are absolutely fresh, and dishes are made to order. The cucumber salad ($3.95), for example - ample slices mixed with shredded carrot, red onion, peanut powder, and a provocative sweet/sour dressing - is obviously freshly tossed, and the cucumber peeled and sliced seconds before it hits the table. And the very same may be said for the Thai salad ($4.95), a julienne of cabbage or papaya (I chose the former) combined with tomatoes and peanuts and consummated with a light but decidedly zesty sauce.
Other solid starters include the Thai spring rolls with sweet pepper sauce ($4.95), crispy deep-fried ground chicken and curry paste with cucumber sauce ($6.95), and mee grob, crispy noodles with bean curd, bean sprouts, lemon, and a luscious homemade toffee sauce ($6.95).
When it comes time to choose your entrée, bear in mind that Thai restaurants tend to do pork, chicken, shrimp and other seafood items exceeding well... Thai chefs, however, don't quite know what to make of beef and it often escapes from the kitchen overcooked and adorned in an unappetizing shade of gray.
If you're a neophyte in the Thai culinary kingdom, you might opt for the traditional pad Thai - stir-fried rice noodles with fresh bean sprouts, scallions, and crushed peanuts - which is right on the money and has just the proper interplay of sweetness and spice. This dish permits you to choose meat, fish, or fowl as an accompaniment. My advice: go for the shrimp ($11.95), which are perfectly sautéed and delightfully crunchy. In a similar vein, the "Drunken Noodles" - rice noodles with fresh basil, mixed vegetables, and chili paste - are also quite excellent and marry particularly well with tender morsels of chicken ($9.95).
When it comes to the curries (made with coconut milk), the massamum is the mildest, the gang pa (red chili curry without coconut milk) the most fiery. I particularly enjoy the panang - lemongrass and coriander with lime leaves and mixed vegetables - which is a nice mean between the two aforementioned extremes. Excellent with pork ($10.95).
Desserts feature first-rate homemade coconut and mango ice creams ($3.95).
A real gem in an unlikely location... and a relative bargain as well. Just don't forget to BYOB.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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