Tasty Thai restaurant review

Evening dinner review

Does Salt Lake City really need another Thai restaurant? Surely we now have plenty of places to grab a spicy green curry or chicken satay. The owners of Tasty Thai certainly seem to think there is plenty of space in the marketplace, and what was once the former ‘Bada Bean’ location, now houses this new Thai eatery. The restaurant space itself is smart and simple. An open kitchen commands most attention at the front of the restaurant, all stainless steel and sizzling dishes. A subdued sprinkling of bric-a-brac dots wall space, but the room is largely dominated by the tall windows that wrap the restaurant looking out towards Liberty Park.

On the evening we visited, the restaurant seemed to be doing a small (but decent) amount of trade, to be expected for someplace so new. Several diners stopped by for quickly prepared take out orders requested from the very congenial staff. Just enough diners peppered the restaurant. It was comfortable, but not chaotic.

A quick query with our host and waiter confirmed the lack of alcohol for the time being, but we were assured a liquor license is being pursued. At any rate, we settled on a mix of cola, Thai Iced Tea, and Jasmine tea. As we perused the menu, I was excited to see a number of more unusual items listed. Two examples are Hoy Obb (steamed mussels with basil and lemongrass in a hot and sour broth) and Yum Watercress (crispy fried watercress mixed with chicken, shrimp, squid, and cashew nut in spicy lime sauce).

As is the tradition of family-style dining, we opted to sample a few of the appetizers, and sat back as the kitchen worked their magic. Thankfully for our growling bellies, the food came up super quick. The entire meal start to finish probably took an hour at most, we all remarked on the speed. An order of Fish Cakes ($6.95) pleased everyone:

tasty thai fish cakes

An acquired taste texturally for some, personally I love these slightly spongy, yet highly fragrant rounds of fish. Next up was the
Crispy Vegetarian Spring Roll ($5.95):

tasty thai vegi spring rolls

There isn’t much one can say about a spring roll. These were as good as any vegi versions I have tried before. They were satisfying, yet light and crispy and the lemon-flavored sauce served with them was addictive. The Deep Fried Meatballs ($5.95) were one of our more unusual picks from the menu:

tasty thai meatballs

These “Look-Chin-Tod” are available in both pork and beef. We went with the beef variety, which proceeded to elicit a number of curious responses, mainly due to their unusual texture. After several bites, we decided the best description would be “kinda like hotdogs texture-wise”. By the time we had reached that conclusion, we had run out of meatballs, a sign that we had also decided they were pretty tasty too.

One of the entrees we selected was from the “grill” section and was a plate of Chicken Satay ($6.95):

tasty thai chicken satay

Four big juicy skewers, a quintessential Thai dish, and as good as most I have tried. My only complaint was a personal preference. I like my peanut sauce on the spicy side and this was on the sweeter end of the scale. Perplexingly, the dish came served with two pieces of toasted white bread. We still aren’t sure why, if anyone out there can illuminate me, please do! Our next entree was marked on the menu with two chillies. Our waiter was very keen to check that we liked spicy food, and as self-confessed chilli heads we plowed onwards regardless. Flat Noodles with Mixed Seafood ($13.95):

tasty thai seafood noodles

A word of caution. When Tasty Thai informs you a dish is spicy, they really do mean spicy. Americanized-Thai food this is not. This dish could best be described as incendiary. A constant refill on the water glasses was needed to negotiate this plate, which indeed it demanded, being thoroughly delicious. The mixed seafood in question was shrimp, octopus and scallop. Mind you I think we only spied one scallop in there. The octopus was a little on the rubbery side too, I’d have the dish again but maybe change proteins.

A particular high point of the meal was the Deep Fried Tilapia with Chilli, Garlic, and Basil Sauce ($13.95):

tasty thai fried tilapia

In fact, this dish was something of a revelation. The chunks of white fish were coated in a light, crisp batter. It was instantly apparent the fish was fried to perfection in fresh, clean oil. There wasn’t the the slightest hint of excess grease. I’m usual one to eschew fried dishes, but I couldn’t stop returning to this plate over and over. The fiery chilli based wasn’t quite as hot as the noodle dish, but still packed a big spicy punch. It’s not often a dish really sticks in my mind, and this one did, a real delight of a dish.

We rounded out the meal with a sticky rice and mango dessert:

tasty thai sticky rice

For three apps, three entrees, three non-alcoholic beverages an dessert we spent just a touch over $65. A bargain in my book, especially considering two of our entrees were seafood. As is quite common, we over ordered, so had a slew of left overs to take home for the day after.

In retrospect, it seems SLC really does need another Thai restaurant after all. Provided that the restaurant in question offers fresh, vibrant flavours. Which is exactly what Tasty Thai did on our visit. We all agreed that a second visit is in order in the near future, and we all saw other items we can’t wait to try on the menu. I hope those dishes stand up, as Tasty Thai has all the right things going for it to become a regular and recommended dining spot.

Tasty Thai
1302 S 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
(801) 467-4070

Tasty Thai on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. Muncher says

    Thanks for the review Stu! My visit to Tasty Thai was uninspiring (C-), but I ordered rather conservatively (curry and pad thai with spring rolls, soup, and dumplings). Both myself and my significant other were not impressed with any of the food (least the curry and pad thai), but after your review we’ll try again and explore the menu more deeply. I am not a huge fan of thai food, but I’m afraid it’s because I have never had great thai food. I despise the heavy and sometimes sweet sauces that usually suffocate dishes like pad thai. I make my own version of the dish, which, using clean ingredients, my friends and I proclaim is exponentially better than the normal restaurant fare. Perhaps you or one of your readers can help direct me toward thai stardom? I need inspiration to help direct me back toward discovering a food so many fans adore. I know there is a thai place out there somewhere that would knock my socks off and leave me wishing I had never even contemplated the potential of thai cuisine.

  2. Stu says

    Actually I do find Thai in SLC a bit inconsistent too.

    Last night I had the Tilapia again at Tasty Thai. It was too sweet and lacked heat compared to the first meal I had. Still a nice fry though.

    I’ve had good meals at Thai Lotus downtown and also at Pawitts in Holladay. Then again I’ve had so so meals at both.

    Thai Garden always gets goo marks. I’ve never been but Corrinne reviewed it many months ago on here.

    My personal favourite was Monsoon Thai on Foothill, now closed. They still have their original location in Park City though, Bangkok Thai on Main.

  3. charles says

    I just ate at Tasty Thai with my wife and daughter and I can say that this was one of the most pleasurable eating experiences I’ve had here in Utah. The food was excellent. We had spring rolls, chicken curry and some dish with flat noodles and tofu with vegetables. My 6 year old daughter is very, very picky but ate all of her vegetable spring rolls and fried won tons. That’s a minor miracle. The family that runs the place were very warm and friendly and took the time to explain the menu. I will say the food is extremely spicy. Really…use caution when ordering the spicier items. My hope is that once they gain a following they will upgrade the decor a bit but other than that this place is my new SLC favorite.

  4. says

    Hi Charles, I find the family that runs Tasty Thai very warm and friendly too, something that is frequently overlooked, but so important these days nevertheless. I have also decided they have the best tofu larb in town. I think I might just ask them if I can move in.

  5. says

    Hi Muncher, another option that everyone seems to be crazy about (just don’t expect any service, if you go in expecting the strangest most lackadaisical service ever, you will only find it slightly stranger than you expected)is Chanon Thai on 900 East and about 300 South. I really enjoyed my larb tofu from there too. I’ve heard lots of people swear it’s the best place in town. Maybe worth a try. Oh, don’t go on Saturday. They are closed on Saturday. Open every other day though. Good luck with your search for Thai food search. Stu makes a mean Thai basil chicken and his green and red curries are pretty darn awesome too. If all your restaurant options fail to pass muster, we may have to have you over for Stu’s Thai feast. :)

  6. Muncher says

    Thanks Stu and Wen. We’ll give your suggestions a try. I love places that have poor service but serve good food, really! I saw there is a new thai place opening near 9th and 9th. Oh only could I be so lucky that it would be great (as its close to my house). Off to Chicago this weekend. Food plans are Frontera Grill (I’m becoming obsessed with great Mexican food), deep dish pizza at Burt’s Place, chicago dogs at Fat Johnnie’s, and Charlie Trotter’s anniversary dinner. One of the guest cooks for the Trotter dinner is the head chef of Arzak in Basque country, Spain. Not to brag or anything! Super exicited! Chow.

  7. says

    I personally wouldn’t go back to Chanon the way we got treated. Tasty Thai is our new favourite Thai spot, we’ve been back tons.

    I’m jealous of your Chicago trip, I really want to try Rick Bayless’ food. I went to Alinea in Chicago a few years back, that was amazing.

  8. Corrinne says

    aww, I’m jealous about Frontera Grill, and I’d love to try Topolobampo too. On the Thai subject, I’d like to throw Pawit’s Royal in Holladay into the conversation. While Thai Garden is good, something about Pawit’s pushes into the great category for us.

  9. Muncher says

    I took your advice and gave Thai food one last full effort shot. We went to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas (off the strip). Amazing! I highly recommend anyone who happens to be in the area (business or weekend trip) try it out. It is touted as, arguably, the best authentic Thai food in the country. The atmosphere does not live up to the food, but I find that a little charming. Best yet, the food is extremely affordable. So glad we continued our pursuit, I finally found my Thai stardom! We also visited Ichiza, a Japanese joint also off the strip (Spring Mountain Road). The food was incredible, the atmosphere simple but great (at one point we were the only diners of non-asian origin) and prices very reasonable. We will certainly visit these two again! Yum! Locally, we tried the vietnamese restaurant Pho Green Papaya and had a great meal. (Somewhat similar food anyway). I also have a neighbor that loves Thai food and recommends Indochine. Any thoughts?

    P.S. Wen(dy?), I’m always game for Stu’s Thai feast! I always come with gifts, empty belly, open mind, and cheerful disposition!

  10. Stu says

    I’d love to try Lotus of Siam in Vegas, I have read endless praise about it as well.

    As for back here in SLC Pho Green Papaya gets our thumbs up but Indochine routinely gets very mixed reviews from what I read.

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