Strip malls grow like weeds in the northern suburb where I live, and I always wonder what else on earth they could possibly find to put in them. I mean really how many salons and dollar stores do we need? So I watched with train-wreck fascination as The Apollo Center (could I make that up?) went up near my home in Symmes Township.
When the sign for Delight Thai Café appeared, I couldn't help but think, "How delightful." I like ethnic food and I really like Thai food. Of course, one has to wonder how Americanized any ethnic type restaurant will be, but that's OK. I once went to a Vietnamese place in Washing-ton, D.C., and had my ears blown off by the spicy, authentic cuisine there. I've been to others since, but none was as genuine as that one. I've never tasted the cuisine in Thailand, but I do know this: It's spicy, fresh and exotic. Delight Thai did not disappoint me.
I must say that I suffer some anxiety when I go to a place like this. My fear most likely stems from the months I spent in Europe, never sure what I ordered in the bistros and ristorantes I visited. It was my fault there; here, I always worry that no one will be able to explain the dishes for me. Not a problem at Delight (I love that name).
Besides the complete descriptions on the menu, the waiter was a wonderful and fully informed metrosexual with a delightful (get it?) sense of humor -- very approachable and sweet. My wife asked him what a particular sauce was and, without missing a beat he said, "I dunno." He then proceeded to explain in detail what many of the sauces were, and there are plenty -- from brown to curry to sweet and sour to peanut.
To start, we tried the Delight Café Roll ($5.95), rice paper wrapped crab, pork, tofu cucumbers and egg. It was freshly prepared and absolutely beautiful with the colors showing through the thin rice paper. Served with a tamarind dipping sauce, it was really fantastic. We also had the Crab Rangoon ($4.95), which is not Thai exactly, but it was creamy and crabby. It was as if I'd had one for the first time.
I also ordered some Sushi and Sashimi ($2-$6 by the piece), prepared to order by the chef whom our waiter kept calling "Sushi Guy." The tuna was outstanding as was the shrimp and sticky rice, each served with a soy dipping sauce and garnished with a delightful (I'm killin' me) molded wasabi leaf; very pretty. If your taste in sushi runs more exotic than mine, Delight's Sushi Bar can hook you up with eel and sturgeon roe, squid and other wonderfully strange items. "Sushi Guy" is clearly talented and experienced -- and very proud of his product.
This sense of pride permeated our entire meal. The tables are clothed with place settings; the chopsticks come with the meal, nice ones. Water glasses are on the table, quickly filled, and the food is on the table in no time.
Our dinner was a perfect Pad Thai ($9.95) with chicken, spicy and flavorful. I've had Pad Thai before, but never as good as this one. The servers here ask how spicy you want stuff on a scale of one to five. My suggestion is to order low, our three was pretty hot, and added spice from the spice pots available for the asking.
We also tried the Thai Sweet and Sour ($9.95) with pork, pineapple, peppers in a sweet-and-sour, spicy Thai sauce. Both are available with seafood for an additional charge. The dish was plentiful and exotic. Both our dinners were served, as are most of the entrées, family style, with sticky rice and the spice pots.
There are so many different items on the Thai Delight's menu it would take a lot of trips to try them all and, honestly, I've already been back. The lunch specials are particularly good and affordable, and the Thai Iced Tea ($2.25) is worth at least lunch.
In a world full of overpriced, over-decorated, over-the-top restaurants (have you seen The Cheesecake Factory?), it is a delight (hee) to find a simple, pleasant and affordable restaurant right around the corner. Try that new place near you. Maybe these strip malls are good for something after all. ©
Delight Thai Café & Sushi Bar
Go: 11928 Montgomery Road, Symmes Township
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Payment: All major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Plenty of vegetarian dishes
Accessibility: Handicap accessible with handicap parking