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I love Thai food, and I love tiny food places that's located along a not-too-busy (in fact, quiet) road. Reminds me of Pub Street in Siem Reap. Very laid back, very good.
So when I walked past Suanthai one sunny afternoon, which totally fits the criteria stated above, I couldn't resist the temptation to step in for lunch. There are 2 buffet menus, and I tried both on two occasions. No big difference in the food I feel, and the price difference was also marginal (they're both under $20, $16-ish or $18-ish, if my memory didn't fail me). So I would recommend the more expensive one, since it is not a lot more expensive. Somehow I believe that paying more would mean getting more, although I haven't quite figured out the actual difference between the 2 menus.
Okay, the food.
The beef with cashews is good. Thin slices of beef coated in some flour and fried, generous servings of cashews... it's really good. I wouldn't imagine that the beef is of extraordinary quality, but for the price I pay, this is pretty decent stuff.
Panang curry fish - I like. Okay, I like all curry. So as long as it is not obviously badly done, I'd think it's good. The portion is really quite generous I would say. It's erm... slightly spicy, coconuty, you know, it's just curry, but it's quite good.
Soups are only half decent I feel. The Tom Yum is not as complex as what you get elsewhere, it just lacks some color and flavor but I cannot quite identify what exactly went wrong. Fish maw soup? Tastes like fish maw soup, but I don't see a lot of fish maw or anything else in the soup. It's basically a bowl of starchy, fish maw-flavored liquid.
Vegs are okay, nothing great, nothing bad. I would think the salads are better options. Because the salads are great imo! Okay, maybe except the papaya salad.
The mango and the pomelo salad are essentially the same, with prawn paste, fried shrimps, peanuts etc. And they are lovely! Slightly sweet, vaguely savory, with a hint of spiciness, and a little citrusy flavor. GOsh I need them now. Give the papaya version a miss... it's sour and lacks the crunch that the other 2 salads have. Very disappointing.
Stuffed chicken wing was okay, I don't remember being very delighted eating it, neither did I complain about it. But given the fact that this is a Thai delicacy with loads of effort invested into preparing it, just give it a go.
I tried the green curry, and as much as I love all curries, I didn't exactly enjoy this. It's too sweet I think. Not curry-ish enough for me. I also didn't like the chicken satay which I also found too sweet. In fact, for most of the dishes I failed to enjoy in this restaurant, the main problem I had with them was that there were all too sweet. Fish cakes, spring rolls and all the other nibblets were rather forgettable, I wouldn't waste my calories on them.
Desserts don't deserve mention either, the steamed tapioca wasn't soft and mushy enough, red ruby were lumped together, with too much of the starchy coating I felt like I was eating glue, and the other stuff were really just... I don't know what to say. Skip the desserts, really.
All in all, for less than $20, I would think this place is worth visiting. It has crappy stuff, but the better stuff it serves are really worth the $20. Besides, the service staff - although some are not well versed in English - are quite nice and respond quickly when called upon.
Free parking is available at night too, I think. And the bakery a few units away has nice desserts to make up for the lack of desserts at Suanthai.
Buffet, Cheap Eat/Budget, Lunch, Dinner, After Work, Quiet, Hidden Find
$40 for 2 pax
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