After trying a few different places around the Charleston area we had all but given up on finding good Thai food. You would think that Charleston, of all places, would have a good selection of Thai cuisine. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. One place in Mt. Pleasant uses way too much sugar in everything (I'm not sure they know what a Thai chili is). Another spot over on James Island offers up Chinese tasting food with Thai names. And the popular downtown offering is just way too pretentious to be enjoyable on a regular basis (or unless you're a yuppie...or worse...a yuppie wannabe).
In comes Taste of Thai across from the Citadel Mall. After passing by this place many times (it's in a strip mall setting...usually not a good sign) we decided to take the plunge. While not the best Thai we've ever encountered, it certainly is the best we've had around Charleston. A winner in our book.
To get a good "feel" of the place we ordered some of our favorites as well as one Thai standard.
We began with soup...our favorite...Tom Kai Gai. The flavor of the dish was pretty spot on although there were a few things we didn't like. Tom Kai Gai needs to be piping hot to be at it's most flavorful. Our offering was very warm, but not quite hot enough for us. The dish was also "dressed" up a bit for the restaurant crowd. By that, I mean the broth was strained from it's flavor carriers (galanga, lemon grass, and lime leaves). We had a nice smooth broth with only chicken & mushrooms floating around. The best Tom Kai Gai we've ever had has all the galanga, lemon grass, and lime leaves still in the bowl. There's nothing better than chewing all the flavor out of lemon grass and slices of galanga. All in all, we enjoyed the Tom Kai Gai at Taste of Thai.
Our entrees included one of our favorites (Duck Basil) and an old Thai standby (Pad Thai).
The Duck Basil was very good, but again there are a couple of things we felt it was missing. One is basil leaves. There were some in the dish, but not nearly enough. The basil flavor was extremely light...certainly not enough to have the dish listed as "Basil" on the menu. Also, the duck is roasted. Roasted duck is quite good, but in a dish such as this that contains a flavorful sauce it is much better being fried. The fried breading picks up the sauce much better and gives excellent textural contrast. Like most things at Taste of Thai, this dish wasn't the best we've ever had but it was extremely good. Worth ordering again.
The Pad Thai was quite good...possibly some of the best I've had. Pretty straightforward Pad Thai, but done much better than other Thai restaurants in the area. One thing I've found is that many Thai places make their dishes, especially the Pad Thai, sweet. I understand that this dish has an inherent sweetness, but many places take this to the extreme. We've been told that many use white, refined sugar in place of the palm sugar that should be used. Taste of Thai uses palm sugar. Great Pad Thai.
There is no Panang Curry listed on the menu, but upon asking we were told it was no problem. Panang is one of my personal favorites.
We greatly enjoyed Taste of Thai. It seemed more authentic than any other Thai we've had in the area and had none of the pretentious overtones that can ruin a great ethnic meal.