Thai food has some similarities and subtle differences compared to Chinese food. Not specifically the General Tso's or chow mein of very Americanized Chinese food, but rather more traditional Chinese food. That being said, I don't know of any Chinese food restaurants in the area serving up more traditional cuisine. If you know of any, please let me know. So if you want a taste for more traditional Chinese, Thai is not far off. They both have some very bold flavors, which is a large contrast to Japanese. Thai can incorporate sweet and spicy into the same dishes, and Thai is known for balancing sour, sweet, and salty tastes in a delicate manner.
Amy and I, with a friend in tow, went to Thai Taste on Milford Road in Swansea last week and had a quite enjoyable experience. I'm not the most familiar with Swansea, and the restaurant was conveniently located right off of I-195 in a small strip mall, easily spotted from the road. When we walked in, I noticed bamboo shoots, other plants, and some traditional decorations to add some character to the pretty simple restaurant. We were greeted very kindly and led to our table.
The server was very nice and attentive to our needs. We were starved when we got there, and ordered the Siam Rolls as soon as we had a chance to look over the menu. They were crispy vegetarian spring rolls. I probably would have picked something with meat and a little bolder flavor, however the Siam Rolls were crispy as promised and the sweet and sour sauce that came with them added a little extra character that was needed. There were lots of other options for appetizers that looked great. Something called the Kra Tong-Tong had crispy homemade pastry cups filled with ground chicken, onions, carrots, sweet corn, Thai herbs, and served with sweet and sour sauce. We'll definitely get this next time.
From there, we moved onto entrees. Amy ordered mango fried rice. Our friend ordered vegetable pad thai, and I ordered Red Mountain Chicken. Amy's mango fried rice came with chicken, mango, egg, onions, scallions, tomatoes and a touch of curry. It was a very interesting take on fried rice. The fried rice itself was quite good. We get fried rice any time we order Asian cuisine, and you'd be surprised how many places just don't get the rice right at all. The three ingredients that made the the dish really unique was obviously the mango, plus the tomato and curry. The mango added a little sweetness to the dish that Thai is known for, and I reference in the introduction. The tomato is not a typical ingredient in fried rice, plus the touch of curry added a different dimension to the taste that I've never had before. I would suggest getting this dish as something to share with others. I really liked the taste, but its the kind of thing that you can get your fill of.
I did not get much feedback from our friend about the vegetable pad thai, however I was very satisfied with my Red Mountain Chicken. Red Mountain was in the house specials category, and you could order any type of meat you choose, chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. It was meat sauteed with peppers, mushrooms, scallions, roasted cashews, and tossed with a house special pik-poa sauce. The description was a perfect fit for my taste, and the sauce was a fantastic savory salty red sauce that went very well with the side of white rice. I think I was the most satisfied with my food, and I didn't leave any to bring home.
The menu had five different types of curry dishes. Curry dishes are very traditional in Thai cuisine, and made from different types of curry paste and are pretty runny. Its very different from what Americans think of as curry. I've seen these types of curry dishes featured on cooking shows, and I'm really curious. I think I owe it to my diversity as a food writer to try one of these next time. From what I understand, these curry dishes are as authentic as Thai food gets.
In general, we enjoyed our dinner at Thai Taste a lot. I think I can benefit from some more experience ordering and trying different things in Thai restaurants. The items we had were great, and building on the experience to order different things next time will only make it better. Thai Taste was very reasonably priced. Three entrees, appetizer, and three sodas came in at just over $45. It didn't break the bank at all. They do have a full service bar should one be in the mood for a few drinks, and their desert menu had a delicious sounding crispy banana dish we'll try next time too. If we save the room.