Four of us had one of the best dining experiences in recent memory at Soi 4 in Gainey Village Scottsdale last night. This is not your typical Thai restaurant-it is obvious that the owners have spent a lot of time and thought on the details that are the difference between good and great restaurants. Starting with the upscale, slightly modern asian decor, thoughful lighting, and enthusiastic staff, first impressions are a sgn of what's to come.
An interesting wine and cocktail list, including a nice selection of wines by the glass, gives an opportunity to sip something good while deciding what to order from the large and varied menu. While there are many of the standard Thai dishes found in many Phx area thai places, based on our experience, I can recommend branching out and trying some of the more interesting items such as pork shoulder braised in a spicy Thai paste that becomes a complex "gravy" for the pork and veggies that are simmered in it, or fork tender melt in your mouth beef short ribs in a fragrant cocunut milk infused, rich and spicy sauce.
As good as our entrees were, we were blown away with the fresh, vibrant flavors we found on the salads and small plates section of the menu. A salad of crispy, fried catfish, green mango, julienne apples, and a melange of sour, spicy, and sweet Thai flavors, arrives artfully plated on a long, slender white platter. Thirty seconds later the platter was empty and our taste buds were singing.
Next up, crunchy pillows of phylo dough stuffed with a spicy shrimp, ground pork, and curry filling. A green papaya, lime, chili, and vinegar salad offered fresh and vibrant flavors withou any heat. We also enjoyed large, grilled river prawns accompanied with a composed salad of fresh field greens, green apples, and a just slightly creamy Thai dressing with hints of Thai chili, fish sauce, and cilantro.
The highlight of the night was unquestionably the whole crispy sea bass. A large, very fresh sea bass is deep fried whole and presented at the table swimming in an intoxicating sauce and vegetable combination. i can't tell you what the sauce was made from-the menu simply states three flavor Thai sauce, but it was packed with flavor and was the perfect accompaniment to the crispy fish. The fish was cooked perfectly, and we had fun picking the large chunks of tender white flesh off the sea bass skeleton.
We finished off the meal with sticky, sweet coconut rice and mango- a Thai restaurant staple dessert, and addicting tempura battered fried banana chunks perfectly matched with creamy, smooth coconut ice cream.
This 11- month old restaurant is putting out some very interesting and very chow worthy cuisine, in a vibrant atmosphere, with professional and friendly service to match. It is refreshing to find an ethnic restaurant in Scottsdale that could easily be a success in NYC, LA, or San Francisco. We will definitely put Soi 4 into our regular restaurant rotation-can't wait to return to try seared duck breast in red curry sauce or stir fried garlic noodle with manila clams, chilis, and fresh thai basil. Yum.