We had the opportunity to try Aroy Thai last night. I had high hopes as the chef was part of the Siam Noodle and Rice kitchen team for 10 years.
At 6:30 PM the joint was nearly empty, though given the severity of the rainstorm, this was not surprising.
Aroy Thai is two lovely rooms decorated in a "minimalist" modern Thai style with two kaffir lime shrubs in the front window, music is Western pop and the lighting subdued.
We started with Som Tum, while it was a very spicy version, it lacked the bits of crushed lime that make the Som Tum at SN&R so memorable, also they used standard green beans instead of the much preferred Chinese long beans.
Next, Larb Kai, the spicing was sufficient and the dish was served warm. The chicken was fresh tasting with a good amount of roasted rice powder, but as with the Som Tum, the Larb was lacking a necessary "sour" element, also there was quite a bit of oil (???) at the bottom of the dish, strange for Larb.
A service note here....we had ordered sticky rice (IMO essential for enjoyment of Som Tom and Larb) and it had not yet arrived.
Fried Chicken wings were a bit on the small side and lacking any real flavor on their own. However the sweet, hot, garlic-chili dipping sauce was one of the finest I have tasted.
Sticky rice finally arrived and was very good in both quality and quantity.
Hoe-mok (sp) Catfish, though not on the menu, was available that evening. It was a large rectangle, with big hunks of fish, chunks of steamed cabbage and shreds of Kaffir leaf. There was not much "custard" to speak of. I prefer the smoother, richer, more "custardy" versions available at other restaurants in town.
The last dish was listed under "Chef's Special" and was Beef Balls and Basil. The small Beef balls were the texture of bologna and sliced in a slightly spicy gravy with bamboo shoots and plenty of Thai basil. This dish failed to "wow" us.
At this point, I'm fairly lukewarm on this place. We were not too impressed with the service and while quality of the "raw" ingredients was high and the food fresh tasting...all the dishes lacked that certain "je ne sais qua" that makes me a regular at other joints.
4656 N. Damen
open seven days, lunch & dinner