Sunday, December 14, 2008

YELP - Dan Thai Review

Being the professional flying monkey that I am, I end up eating at a lot of mediocre chains or crappy local establishments.  As much as I would love to live up to the “jet set” stereotype, a lot of my flying is to places you wouldn’t want to go to. That makes finding a good bite sometimes an impossible task.  Again, you have to set your expectations correctly.

Case in point, Burlington, NC.  Not known for it’s cuisine.  The furniture maybe, but that’s barely edible (though better tasting than some of the stuff I’ve had).  With my expectations correctly set at “craptastic” I tend to stomach my dining options.  Now the cool thing about flying all over god’s creation is that sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.  Either an amazing place that you would fly back to or something so much better than the local fare that it makes your work just a little more bearable.

Thai food is one of those types that all the trendy cities try to have a several restaurants of.  As a rule of thumb, the hotter it is the more I like it.  Let me be clear, I don’t like hot for the sake of hot.  That’s some macho BS peepee contest that I prefer not to engage in.  I’m a fan of ridiculous heat as long as it’s truly enhancing the flavor of the dish.  This is where Thai has become one of my favorite foods.  The inclusion of “fresh” Thai peppers in a dish not only ratchets up the fire factor but adds a whole new layer of complexity to a meal.

Dan Thai is one of those “diamonds” in the rough.  A shining example of great food in an otherwise gastronomic wasteland.  Like most Thai places (or restaurants in this area) it’s located in a strip mall.  The outside looks dismal at best and far from inviting.  Don’t let that fool you.  Once inside the decor is very nice, even approaching “date spot” status.  The staff is very friendly and attentive.  Everyone gets a soup to start which is a good intro to their flavors.  Sometimes I’ve had a clear broth with tofu and a little kick.  Other times it’s a thicker reddish curry that’s tasty and fiery.

My go to dish has always been Pad Kee Mao (a.k.a. Drunken Noodle) but known as Spicy Noodles at this establishment.  I asked for it “Thai Hot” with fresh peppers and they did a good job of accommodating.  All in all, the flavor of the food was great with fresh ingredients coupled with a nice kick.  Not as fiery as I would have liked, but most places take it easy until you become a regular and they know you can handle the dragon.

If you’re ever in this area (and I hope you aren’t) don’t despair.  There’s at least one good Thai place you can find solace in.  A little oasis of flavor in an otherwise dreary little slice of North Carolina.

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