By Evan Siegal
Located on Mt. Hope Avenue, just a half-mile away from the UR River Campus, Thai Taste Restaurant’s exterior is deceiving. When I reached the plaza in the evening’s darkness, half of the neon lights meant to illuminate the restaurant’s title had blown out, and the words ‘Thai Restaurant” were barely legible.
However deceptive the outside signage might have been, it was certainly not a reflection of the cuisine within.
As soon as we entered in a group of six, we found we were double the number of the largest group already eating. It did not get much more crowded for the duration of our meal; however, the groups that did come were all college students, mostly from UR.
The atmosphere was quaint, the decorations somewhat traditional, but not overdone, and the waitresses were very helpful and attentive, providing the basis for a great dining experience.
For the six of us, it was ideal to order our meal family-style, so we split an appetizer and shared six main dishes. For the appetizer, we ordered Chicken Satay shish kebabs with large pieces of grilled chicken, a peanut sauce to dip in and chopped cucumbers on the side. The chicken was grilled to perfection and came out hot. I highly recommend this it can also be made with beef or pork if those meats are preferred.
As for our main dishes, we each ordered an entre and purposely varied them to try out multiple flavors and delicacies. We had a couple of seafood dishes, chicken dishes and a duck dish, as well. Most dishes came with a side order of white rice, pretty consistent across these types of restaurants, but Sticky Rice was also an option, for the diner who wants to shy away from the commonplace and try something a little different.
I ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai, a favorite of mine that I have ordered at every restaurant I have been to that has it, and this version stacked up quite well. I definitely think it was a good idea to order items from all parts of the spectrum, because it provided a balance that everyone appreciated and enjoyed.
What made the dining experience enjoyable was that the menu allowed patrons to greatly customize their food. Thai food, which is typically known for its spiciness, can sometimes provide a challenge to those of us who enjoy a bit of a kick in our dish but would prefer to not burn our tongues.
In combination with those masochistic types who enjoy the pain (of which we had one or two in our group), the ability for us to share dishes who enjoy ourselves was truly an achievement.
The menu was very helpful, because it ranked dishes using stars, one star being ‘a little spicy” and four being ‘very spicy.” Furthermore, a caddy of two different spicy sauces was brought out with the food, so each of us could fix our palates with the appropriate amount of ‘zing” to fit our personalities for spice.
As we finished up our entres, we were all pretty full but couldn’t possibly get the check without trying the homemade desserts. The two main desserts were Sticky Rice with Fresh Mango and Sticky Rice with Custard. Of course, in keeping with the variability that characterizes the restaurant, both could be ordered with either white or purple sticky rice, so we ordered one of each type.
The dessert was definitely a highlight for me, because I chose the Purple Sticky Rice with Fresh Mango. As a first-timer with purple sticky rice, I frankly didn’t know what to expect, but even after eating rice earlier during the main course, this rice became a dessert with the utmost ease.
Furthermore, the fresh mango was right on par (actually fresh without any taste of being previously frozen), and the combination of the sweet rice with the tangy mango was incredible.
Thai Taste Restaurant, located at 1675 Mt. Hope Avenue in Mt. Hope Plaza, is truly a hidden gem in Rochester. With entre prices topping out at $13.95, it’s an affordable option for us college students and provides a different cultural experience as well as a calming atmosphere that can be much appreciated as a break from the hustle and bustle of campus life.
Siegal is a member of the class of 2010.