My Kind of Thai

Red Thai curry -- or green or yellow -- is hard to beat

Eggplant-centered pat makua yow was far less oily than Chinese eggplant preparations, but it was less satisfying because the thin sauce, while fine when the dish first hit the table, tended over time to thoroughly waterlog the eggplant slices as well as the dish's additional bean sprouts, sweet pepper strips, onions, and straw mushrooms.

Adventuresome grazers are especially well served at Red Thai, since the appetizer list abounds with unusual items. As well as familiar satays, for example, there's moo da dio, a northern Thai streetfood consisting of satay-threaded strips of marinated deep-fried pork "jerky," dried but quite tender and intensely flavored; instead of satay's peanut potion, the dipping sauce was a dragon-breath red chili. Familiar meat-filled fried keiw tod won tons were fine, but the same ground pork was more interestingly presented in moo salong, meatballs wrapped in thin noodles (a tricky and labor-intensive process, which explains why these are party food) and deep-fried to crispness. Shredded vegetable-stuffed pau pia sound exactly like Chinese egg rolls, but the crunchy egg-pastry skin avoids the usual toughness and the accompanying homemade sweet/sour sauce avoids Chinese duck sauce's usual cloying sugariness. Best were pra jan kadat, wedges of Thai tortilla stuffed sparely with a moist chicken/onion filling more succulent than any south-of-the-border quesadilla I've ever encountered.

Red Thai Room has decided to get a little cocky and ditch the royal décor
Steve Satterwhite
Red Thai Room has decided to get a little cocky and ditch the royal décor

Details

305-792-0262. Open Monday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Sunday, 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.
20301 Biscayne Blvd (Promenade Shops), Aventura

For dessert there's a roundup of the usual suspects, if that's what you want: nice deep-fried and glazed Thai doughnuts with a crushed peanut/coconut flake topping; green tea and red bean ice creams, here done as a trio with ginger ice cream. But there are also treats seldom found outside of Thailand (and there mostly for special occasions; fresh fruit in season is Thailand's most common everyday dessert), like khao neo mamuang. A specialty of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, this dessert centers on warm, sweet sticky rice, cooked al dente so the grains are firmer, nuttier, and, well, grainier than normal converted rice. The rice is served in a rectangular patty in a bath of creamy-rich warm coconut milk, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and accompanied by slices of mango and -- a Red Thai innovation -- bananas. It sounds strange, but take the chance. It's all worth it.

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