Last night we ate at the Thai Thai Seafood Restaurant here in New Bern, with friends, to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary (gulp...where did the time go?). It was the first time that Guy and I ate at Thai Thai, even though they've been here for 4 years. Sara and Tom, our friends, eat there regularly. Sara, who is Thai, says part of the menu is authentic Thai and other parts are Americanized.
Before I give my rating on Thai Thai, let me just say that I don't eat Chinese or Japanese and I really don't favor Asian restaurants, mostly because of all the deep frying. Guy absolutely loved the place because, as he said, he couldn't taste the oil. Everything was light and crisp. I agree that there was no aftertaste, and I didn't even get indigestion from the frying oil, but just about everything is deep fried. Thai people also tend to use a lot of sugar. For instance, their cucumber salad, that people rave over, has a lot of sugar in it. I think I'm going to be odd man out here, because Thai Thai is very popular in New Bern, and no one seems to care that they are eating deep fried food and a lot of sugar. Don't get me wrong -- everything tasted fantastic. It's just I prefer not to eat that way.
The service at Thai Thai is outstanding. The ambience is mixed -- there is a Thai feel, but the view is of the city traffic. Still, it's a really cute place with sweet Thai people surrounding you with love and well-prepared food.
They start you off with a plate of "chips" coated with their sweet sauce. The "chips" are a very thin won-ton, deep fried, that are totally addictive. I asked them please not to bring any more, because they were just too good.
Next, we had a plate of appetizers: fried squid, shrimp inside won-ton wrappers, and, naturally, egg rolls. Everything was fresh and exquisitely prepared, and I ate with gusto, using some of the assorted sweet and hot sauces that they bring to the table.
Sara ordered a Thai salad and insisted I try some. It was delicious. It had lettuce, cellophane noodles, crumbled chicken and cilantro on it, among other things.
I found, I think, one of the very few entrees that wasn't fried: shrimp and chicken satay. I asked for steamed broccoli instead of the too-sweet cucumber salad, and they graciously accommodated me. The owners are very accommodative towards their guests. By the time the entree arrived, however, I had filled up on everything that came before and wasn't terribly hungry.
I never order desserts at restaurants, first because I never have enough room, and second because I'm always disappointed. I find restaurant desserts in general lacking in taste, not always fresh, and too sweet. But Tom and Sara ordered an assortment of desserts to be brought to be the table, so I tried a little of each. The fried ice cream was not for me, though it is Tom's favorite dessert. On this one, I could taste the oil. It was served with a raspberry sauce, but it was hard to taste the raspberries because of all the sugar. The cheesecake was still frozen and tasted more like a frozen custard dessert with an aftertaste of sweetened condensed milk, which I don't like. Sara insisted I try the pumpkin custard. It was ok, but just not for me; it was very light, but overly sweet, which masked the pumpkin flavor.
The prices at Thai Thai are not cheap; but when you consider that the place is spotless, the food is very fresh and well prepared and the service is exemplary, you are not being short-changed.
Will I go back? Maybe, but not soon. I love all the fried stuff, but I just don't feel good about eating it, so I'll stay at home or go to my old standby, Outback, where I can get plain old lamb chops with a plain old baked potato and a plain old salad. In New Bern, there isn't much else.
5/21/11 Update: New Bern has some new restaurants that are not 5-star, but not bad: Morgan's, Persimmons and Bella Cucina, to name a few.