On Blanco Road, in a more worn torn part of town, is a hidden treasure. Veiled by the untended buildings and cluttered lots in the area, the barred windows of a neighbor, and a ragged exterior obscuring its inner greatness, Thai Dee appeared an unlikely jewel from the outside. After getting past those layers, we entered a pleasant, clean, modestly appointed and intimate space that immediately put us at ease. As we sat, the waiter greeted us with a welcoming smile and in a flash the exterior environs disappeared.
Before long our friendly, soft spoken waiter opened (with some difficulty but in a most charming way) a bottle of the wine we brought ourselves (Thai Dee lacks a liquor license, it is BYOB) and we began what was a wonderful dining experience. Starting off with summer rolls, slightly chewy, but filled with fresh ingredients, including thinly sliced pork, cucumber, green leaf lettuce, carrots, and perfectly cooked angel hair rice noodles. The roll had a sweetness I really enjoyed, especially coupled with the breath-in-deeply, mouth-forming-an-“O” spicy chili dipping sauce. Another in our group had a simple crisp cucumber salad topped with a julienne of carrots, in a light sweet vinegar dressing. Very good and refreshing, a perfect foil for the spicy dipping sauce.
After allowing some time to pass, we received our entrees. The tempo of the service is casual so we never felt pressed. In fact, very much the opposite, it seemed expected that you take your time to enjoy each stage of your meal, along with the brilliant atmosphere (which changed markedly from the time we arrived). Upon arrival only one other group was present, a party of six with a cooler and four bottles of wine on their table (foretelling the fun in store). Midway through, the crowd increased. The room filled with couples and families and gatherings of friends, alive with conversation and laughter. The vibe was bright and glimmering, in stark contrast to the very dimly lit space.
Two in our party ordered the Spicy Pork with Cilantro. It came on a bed of iceberg lettuce, the tender pork matching nicely with the crispy lettuce. The sauce was very flavorful with strong cilantro and a vinegar finish. So very good. Another ordered the Pad Woodsen, a lively dish brimming with color and a mix of textures, making each bite interesting and appealing. I ordered the Spicy Grilled Eggplant. The dish included varied vegetables – Japanese eggplant, red and green bell peppers, and onion, as well as plenty of chicken but, alas, only two scrimpy shrimp. No matter, the dish was delish! The perfectly cooked vegetables and meat sat happily in a delightfully complex broth – rich and smoky with hints of licorice from the Thai basil, and a great spicy heat.
Unfortunately, we did not leave room for dessert, although one in our party had the stunning Thai coffee which, with its sweetness, substituted nicely. However, next time I promised myself to have some restraint during the main course so I could indulge in the Mango Sweet Sticky Rice or the Coconut Ice Cream served over warm sweet sticky rice. They both sound amazing and with the quality of food we enjoyed, I am confident they are.
I highly recommend Thai Dee. This diamond “in the rough” serves exceptional food, Thai or otherwise.