The restaurant is unafraid to use bold seasonings but some dishes lack punch.
A few weeks ago, Taste of Thai took over the former Ha Long Bay space on Sancus Boulevard, transforming it from a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant into a straightforward Thai eatery.
In doing so, Taste of Thai has let its personality shine through.
Upon entering, you'll be struck by Taste's mustard-yellow walls, meditatively tinkling Thai music and generally engaging appointments. For instance, there are fun tapestries starring elephants; photos of Buddhas and Thai food; rows of potted faux plants; and other colorful and ethnically appropriate maps and knickknacks. Plus, Taste's staff is very friendly (if not always on the ball) and it's the kind of place where cooks will step out of the busy kitchen to ask how your food is.
Well, the food is good, not great. I liked that Taste of Thai is unafraid to blaze away with double-barreled chili heat, and this place is certainly a viable dining option for the Polaris area. That said, some dishes lacked nuance and some were kind of single dimensional.
The Tom Yum Talay ($6) wasn't one of those -- in fact, it packed in a lot of believable and balanced Thai flavors. It was a nice and bright citrus soup accented with lemongrass, cilantro, galangal (ginger-like), onions and bell peppers. Also in the broth were seafood like shrimp (decent), cuttlefish (nice, tender) and scallops (small, strong-tasting).
Another pretty good dish was Larb Gai ($6), a warm, ground-chicken salad that could be an entree or shared appetizer. Loaded with chopped onions (most things are here) and lime, it was colorful, veggie-crunchy and had an accumulating, sneaky heat.
The green curry ($9 -- you choose your protein; I recommend pork or chicken) was wildly, explosively hot. Its veggie-laden, perfumed sauce was soup-thin, sort of sweet and had good flavors of Thai basil and galangal.
For something far less incendiary, try the Drunken Noodles ($9). Smoky-tasting from a high-heat stir-frying and strewn with eggs, it was a pleasant rice noodle dish with a nice al dente veggie presence and gentle sweetness.
Lunchtime brings $7 meal deals served with a respectable spring roll plus soup and salad. The soup's a subtle mushroom broth with a neat kick of pepper. The salad's a small affair with simple lettuces and a smooth and very sweet peanut butter dressing.
Since Taste's lunchtime portions are generous to the point of dinner-sized, the midday combos deliver excellent values. Some main course lunch options are (again, pick a protein): Pad Thai -- saucy, not bad; Red Curry -- made with green beans, a good chili punch plus a lot of onions; "Amazing" sauce -- had plenty of veggies like celery and broccoli and a sauce extremely similar to that not-very-dynamic sweet salad dressing.
After being steered toward the Mango and Sticky Rice for dessert, I was informed it wasn't available that day. Instead, I went with the pleasant-enough Banana Coins ($3), little fried wonton packages enclosing molten banana bits and drizzled in a light syrup. Like several things I tried at Taste of Thai, they were perfectly fine.
To read G.A. Benton's blog visit ColumbusDiningGuide.com.