Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thai Taste – Satisfactory Thai to satisfy a craving.

1516 West Main Street, Jacksonville, AR


Thai Taste has been around a long time, and caters to an unsophisticated American clientele who prefer buffet-style dining, i.e., quantity supercedes quality. Most of those diners, if slaughtered and “dressed-out,” would handily feed an Asian family of six for weeks, if not months.

This is not to say that the buffet at Thai Taste is bad. No, it’s good in a modest way, and the food is reasonably fresh. It’s just that “Kathy,” who started the restaurant many years ago, and “Jimmy” and “Gai” (“chicken” in Thai), his wife and Kathy’s daughter, have created a buffet menu that works and they’re not about to change it. OK, I accept that as a smart business decision given their location, and they’re hard-working folks who are at the restaurant six days a week. Give them their due.

However, if you are not interested in buffet dining (or being slaughtered, dressed out and fed to Asians, for that matter), they have a menu that you really should take a look at. And, you’ll notice that the other Thais and Koreans who patronize the place typically avoid the buffet and do that very thing. A recent dinner there included a very good Som Tam (shredded green papaya salad with lime juice, Thai peppers, fish sauce and tomatoes) and my favorite soup of all-time, Kung Dom Yam (this has many spellings). The latter is a hot and spicy shrimp and lemongrass soup. Just wonderful when prepared well. And, at Thai Taste, they do a creditable job with it.

A quick word about “spicy:” you need to be a bit careful at Thai Taste, because they, being Thai, tend to judge the relative “heat” in their dishes from that perspective, naturally. “Medium” hot to them is very hot to most American palates. For example, the Som Tam I ordered would normally have come out of the kitchen with five Thai peppers crushed in the salad, and that would have been “medium.” Instead, I ordered it with three peppers (some of you will be thinking “What a wuss!”), but my companion took a bite, bugged her eyes out and said, “Whew! That’s hot!” Get the idea?

To me, the spice-heat in Thai food is one of the wonderful things that differentiates it from Cantonese or Vietnamese cuisine, but I don’t want that heat to overpower the taste of the other ingredients. It’s not a hot-pepper-eating contest, in other words.

My companion ordered “Mongolian Beef,” and got a familiar dish interpreted through a Thai sensibility. She ate some, looked quizzical for a minute, ate some more, and then pronounced it some of the best Asian food she had had since being in Little Rock (about four years). I tried it, and it was quite good.

I once asked “Jimmy” what he thought were the best dishes that his wife prepared, and he mentioned the Kung Dom Yam (I think they spell it “Tom Yung Doong” there, actually) and Chicken with fresh Basil leaves. I’ve had both, and they’re very tasty. Maybe not the absolute best Thai food that you’ve ever had, but very good and very satisfying when you’re craving Thai in central Arkansas.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home