MIDVALE — The more I eat Thai food, the more I like it. And with the addition of Thai Spice to the Fort Union area, now there's a great little Thai place right in my back yard.
Thai Spice has everything I like in a Thai restaurant: a welcoming but exotic ambience, plenty of fresh and often spicy food, even a variety of Thai music playing in the background.
It also has much of what I like in restaurants in general: nice pacing of the meal, cleanliness and the anxiously helpful kind of good service that you tend to find only at family-owned eateries.
Things were quiet when a friend and I stopped by for dinner late on a recent Friday night. But if word gets out about Thai Spice, I doubt things will stay that serene.
We started with the combo platter, a nicely balanced plate for two consisting of a pair each of poh pia tot (Thai eggrolls), curry puffs and chicken satay, with peanut and sweet-chili sauces for dipping.
It's a great appetizer, offering a sampling of Thai tastes while whetting the appetite for what's to come. The eggrolls, stuffed with ground beef, veggies and noodles, are meatier than the Chinese version and taste great dipped in chile sauce.
There's a lot of cross-pollination between Indian and Thai cuisines, as shown by the tasty curry puffs. With crisp puff pastry filled with ground beef, potatoes and peas in curry spices, they're basically samosas — if you discount the beef, definitely a Thai touch.
The satay was moist and chewy, with a lightly curried flavor that mixed well with the peanut sauce.
We also tried the tom kha gai, one of my all-time favorite soups, and something you'll only find at Thai restaurants, with its beautifully blended flavors of coconut milk and lemongrass. Thai Spice's superior version, served in a lidded china pot, was milky-sweet and slightly spicy, full of chicken, onions and baby corn.
For dinner, my friend thought she was staying on the mild side with the pad krathiem, chicken stir-fried in fresh garlic with onions, water chestnuts, squash, broccoli and cauliflower. But when it arrived, it was liberally sprinkled with red pepper flakes that heated things up considerably. But hot or not, it was delicious.
I loved my dinner, the gang garee. It's beef (you can also choose chicken) in a sweetish and spicy yellow curry with tender little new potatoes, onions, tomatoes and coconut milk. It's soupy, which means there's plenty of sauce to pour over rice. Eaten that way, it's heavenly.
Just for fun, we also tried the pad priw wan, chicken (or beef) stir-fried with crisp-tender veggies and pineapple, and tossed in a light sauce. It's a sweet, mild and fresh take on sweet-and-sour, and my friend and I both enjoyed it.
You might not want dessert by the time you eat your way through the rest of the Thai Spice menu, but if you're still game, it's worth it. There are several selections, most of them featuring bananas, mango, lychee or other Thai fruits.
We had one of my favorite Thai sweets, the custard with sweet coconut rice. The cool, eggy custard sits atop a generous mound of warm, creamy rice. There's plenty of coconut flavor, but no actual shreds of coconut, which I like. It's comfort food, Asian-style.
Lunch: Appetizers $2.95-$6.95, single dishes $5.95-$7.95, lunch combinations $5.95, desserts $2.95
Dinner: Appetizers $2.95-$6.95, soups and salads $6.95-$12.95, rice or noodles $2-$8.95, main dishes and specialties $7.95-$12.95, vegetarian dishes $4.95-$7.95, desserts $2.50-$3.95
Thai Spice Restaurant
Where: 854 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.; (Lunch served Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Payment: Cash, credit cards
Reservations: Accepted but not usually needed
Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org