We tried the new Thai by Thai on Route 7 in Sterling this evening and it is another legitimate addition to our collection of good Thai places in the western 'burbs. Thai by Thai replaces Tup Tim Thai, which was good but unexceptional. Thai by Thai is set up like an upscale carryout. You pick up menus at the door, and order and pay at the counter. If you're dining in, they will bring your food to the table.
The menu is quite limited. We stuck almost entirely with appetizers this evening as we weren't in a mood for rice or noodle dishes. We tried:
Fish cakes: mini-burger sized patties with a mixture of fish and vegetables, lightly spiced. Interesting, but unlikely to become a family favorite.
Sundried beef: The inclusion of this Thai street food was what drew me into the restaurant in the first place. The beef was in irregular chunks and strips, not terribly spicy and very flavorful. The chowpup loved this dish.
Shrimp delight: shrimp, red bell pepper, and onion kabobs, with basil leaves between different ingredients. The basil worked well with the pepper and onion. This was good but not thrilling.
Chicken Satay: The chicken was a bit drier than most and came out with plenty of sweet peanut sauce. A very average chicken satay, which is still a very good chicken-on-a stick variant.
Papaya Salad: This was a winner. The generous portion of shredded green papaya was nicely complimented by a sweet/sour/spicy sauce and topped with peanuts.
Yum Neua (beef salad): Another winner. This isn't nearly as incendiary as the version at Tarin, but the flavors worked very well together.
Larb:Again, not as incendiary as some versions, but a generous portion of ground chicken with appropriate traditional spicing.
Kid's Thai Macaroni: This was the chowpup's selection and she declared it delicious. I'm on a low carb diet and didn't try it, but it was not a Kraft mac&cheese. This was elbow macaroni with bacon, chicken, and some vegetables.
Prices were extremely reasonable. All the salads were $4.95 each with fairly generous portions at that price. The Thai iced tea and coffee were priced at $2.25 each. I didn't check pricing on beers, but they did have a couple of microbrews in the line up.
We'll be back. We actually tried ALL of the salads on the small menu, and the selection of entrees is pretty limited. The sundried beef and the papaya salad will keep us coming back, particularly as it makes for a good snack stop before hitting the adjacent Grand Mart.
I'm worried about Thai by Thai's viability. It isn't located where it is likely to get any office crowds for lunch, and it is somewhat hidden from Route 7 traffic by the IHOP. Right now, I don't see any signs that they're americanizing the food. But I am concerned that they will do so over time.
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