Monday, May 24, 2010

Salt Lake Eating Out: Not a Three-Way Thai

Since my first foray into Thai food, it was love at first bite.  I've come to savor Tom Kha Gai, Pad Thai, Guay Tea Pad Kee Mao, Pad Gra Prow, and similar dishes with names I can foolishly try to pronounce. Thai food was on the agenda on my recent trips to New York City and Colorado Springs. Salt Lake City has several wonderful Thai restaurants worth a venture, especially since there are discount coupons to make eating out less painful on your wallet. I offer for your consideration two solid hits and a complete disaster.

Thai Siam - A work colleague introduced me to Thai Siam.  I loved the Tom Kha Gai (coconut soup) so much that I searched web sites for recipes and have made this dish at home several times.  The lunch specials are always tasty and plentiful, the service is excellent, and the ambiance is very relaxing.  The location at 1435 South State is quite convenient, even for a lunch hour meeting.  I've been to Thai Siam quite a few times, and I have tried a lot of different menu items, all perfectly prepared and delicious. has discount coupons available for purchase (usually $10 value for $4 or $25 value for $15).

Thai Lotus - I brought a guy I was dating to Thai Lotus, across from the old Salt Lake City main library on 500 South, as a thank you for his help in replacing my car battery.  I had a 2-for-1 coupon from City Weekly.  We were seated at least fifteen minutes before we got menus or water.  We were both ravenously hungry, and eventually we were served small fried noodle appetizers which were edible but not delightful in any way.  When our food finally arrived, it hinted of an establishment in need of a bigger food inventory budget. He had Gai Yang (BBQ chicken), which was served as three "hunks" of breaded chicken which was dried out and flavorless.  No sides, not even parsley or other garnishments.  I had Guay Teaw Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles), a bit more flavorful, but with scarce pieces of beef, peppers, and mushrooms.  And the noodles did not seem to be the authentic kind.  The wait staff was displeased at the sight of the coupon and had extensive trouble with their credit card reader.  In all, a disappointment and since it was a thank you, an embarrassment.

Tasty Thai - My friend Bev and I had just gotten pedicures in the afternoon, so we were already in great spirits. She had a  coupon and needed a hungry soul to join her and rack up a small bill.  We had vegetarian spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce, Tom Gha (coconut soup), Yum Tempura (salad),  Pad-Kee-Mow (wide noodles with chicken and vegetables in a spicy sauce), and Pad-Ruam-Mitt (chicken and vegetables stir fried in garlic sauce). We had plenty of leftovers to take home.  I have driven past the corner where this restaurant is located (due southwest of Liberty Park in Salt Lake City) and never before noticed it was there.  Even the restaurant interior is quite simple and unassuming. But don't let that fool you. The food is authentic and terrific! This restaurant does not have a website, but you can see their menu on the website, where they still have the discount coupons.

My work experience at GE taught me to rank order things (and people, another story). That said, I'd put Thai Siam and Tasty Thai in a tie for first place.  Thai Siam is a little more upscale, whereas you can easily slip into  Tasty Thai in flip flops, shorts and a tank top.  You will have a fantastic and inexpensive meal at either, especially if you use the coupons.  Thai Lotus is recommended only if you want to sever relations with your dating partner, and it'd be a good place to do that because you will have plenty of time to have the talk and there won't be any fond memories after it's over.

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