One of the ongoing jokes between myself and my father is that at some point we were bound to hit a very bad Thai restaurant in the Valley. So far, we had great luck with various Thai restaurants with, obviously, some being better than others. However, we haven’t had a truly dismal experience that simply left us wondering why we wasted our time and money.
But Royal Thai Grill in Mesa certainly was more than happy to greet us with an entirely unmemorable experience complete with a surly waiter and a kitchen that didn’t really seem to care.
I guess it was my fault because I selected the restaurant, but we were on our way to the Bass Pro Shop near the 202 loop and I saw that Royal Thai Grill wasn’t too far away. After a small shopping spree at Bass, Dad and I made the quick drive over to Royal Thai Grill that was situated in the corner of a very small strip mall that you would miss if you blinked at the wrong time. In fact, we missed it going by because the sign outside was tiny, probably to match the size of the strip mall.
After parking near the front, Dad and I entered and the placed seemed comfortable enough but the layout of tables was a bit odd with many tables pushed together in the center for large groups and then mismatched tables on the side set up at a four-top. Dad and I were directed to a table near the entrance and it was one of those two different tables pushed together. In fact, the one table was about an inch higher than the other. It was a strange dynamic.
When our server arrived, he set down a carafe of ice water, two glasses and two menu, all without saying a word. We opened the menus and were surprised at how large the selection was. There were nearly 150 items on the menu from appetizers to desserts and we had a tough time deciding. After about five minutes, our server reappeared and asked if we were ready to order. I asked, “Could we have a few more minutes, please?” Obviously, I said the wrong thing as the server dropped his hands to his side, let out a long sign and curtly said “I guess” before abruptly leaving. A real charmer.
We took our time trying to figure out just what to get and in the end we ordered two Iced Teas ($1.00 each), the Crispy Wontons ($4.95), the One Sun Beef ($7.95), the Yum Nar Nam Tok ($7.95) and the Rard Nar with Chicken ($7.95), with our entrees at medium spice heat. After placing our order, Dad and I watch a bit of the Thai videos playing on a small television set. Our server brought our drinks and we waited for our appetizers.
Our One Sun Beef arrived and the plate was filled with strips of beef that looked mangled on some level. The description on the menu said it was a Thai beef jerky but then suggested it was tender. The look of it was odd, but it did have a rather pleasant aroma so we dove in. The beef was certainly not tender on any level and was even more difficult to chew than standard beef jerk. The flavor was slightly savory and slightly sour, but the texture was disconcerting. After a couple of the strips, Dad and I set the dish aside.
Our second appetizer was delivered and I was a bit relieved to see the plate of wontons. They were super crispy and had a small amount of pork filling in each one. Dad said he loved the extra garlic in the filling and I agreed that it was quite good. The dipping sauce was pretty standard, but the wontons themselves were excellent. We were also pleased that they plate consisted of 10 of the wontons.
As we waited for our entrees, I had the unfortunate task of flagging down our server for refills on the iced teas. Clearly, this was an inconvenience on his time and he hastily filled our glasses and then stormed off to the kitchen. After our second glass, we decided to pass on requesting additional refills from Mr. Crabby.
Dad’s Rard Nar with Chicken showed up first and consisted of small chunks of chicken, noodles, Chinese broccoli and a light sauce. While we thought the noodles were good, the rest of the dish was flat our boring. There was little, if any, flavor, even from the broccoli. We couldn’t figure out why the ingredient mix didn’t lend itself to something more palatable, but this dish just seemed to lack anything to keep our taste buds from falling asleep. We also noticed that it contained very little spice or seasoning that all but doomed the dish.
My Yum Nur Nam Tok was a mixture of slices of grilled meat, mint leaves, red onions, green onions and rice. This was served with shredded cabbage. With the mixture of items alone, this should have had a great taste, but all we tasted was spice. A lot of spice. Dad and I were nibbling on the cabbage to keep the fire from our tongues. Otherwise, we didn’t get any taste of beef, onion, and, especially, mint. The dish had also been prepared at well above the medium spice level we requested and, unfortunately, the heat masked any taste at all in the dish. I was perplexed as to why this would leave the kitchen.
After abandoning any hope, Dad asked if we wanted to stick around for dessert and I told him that I would rather we just cut our losses and leave. Our server brought our bill of $33.36 (which included tax). Service was abysmal and I would have gone out of my way to comment on the service but I don’t think anyone in the restaurant would have cared.
As we got back into the car, Dad said, “Well, we got that out of the way. It was bound to happen.” Yes, it was bound to happen, but I still don’t understand why this place is in business. The food was flavorless (and you know things are bad when wontons are the best thing on the table at a Thai restaurant) and the service was unacceptable. However, I am sure that somewhere Royal Thai Grill has its fans.
They are welcome to take our place.
Royal Thai Grill
321 West McKellips #103
Mesa, AZ 85201
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday - 11 AM to 9 PM; Monday - 11 AM to 3 PM; Closed Tuesdays.
Notes: The strip mall is just east of Country Club Drive.
Royal Thai Grill
321 W McKellips Rd, Mesa, AZ 85201
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