So many Thai restaurants in Salt Lake overdo the décor and kitsch of their restaurant — perhaps hoping to dazzle diners with the visual trappings of colorful and sparkly objects and to distract them from the food.
When I saw the signs go up for Skewered Thai on one of the adorable Trolley Cottages just to the east of Trolley Square, I shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Great, all we need is another Thai restaurant downtown.” Given that this area is lacking in many decent dining options save the brew pub, I opted to give this newest Thai endeavor a chance in hopes of finding something fresh and non-chain in the neighborhood.
Skewered Thai is definitely worth a visit — and a revisit. With understated décor designed to celebrate and not overwhelm the vintage charm of its location, some excellent Thai dishes are coming out of the small kitchen in the back of the cottage.
Start with a bowl or tureen (serving 2-4 people) of flavorful tom kha soup with chicken ($5 or $10) or shrimp ($6 or $12) highlighting the delicate flavors of coconut milk and kaffir lime leaf.
On the small-bites section of the menu, look to the scallop tower ($9) for a well-portioned appetizer for two. Lightly fried and deliciously plump scallops are presented over cabbage strands and sauced with a creamy, spicy aioli. I preferred these over the fresh spring rolls ($8), which were overstuffed with spring mix salad leaves and not much else.
But if a salad is what you are craving, give the pla goong ($15) serious consideration. Large shrimp are quickly steamed and then tossed with a kicky, chile-studded dressing anchored by a bowl of onions, green peppers, fresh tomatoes, cucumber rounds and cilantro.
Monday through Friday, Skewered Thai offers an affordable lunch combo for just $9. Choose from two of the 15 items on the combo menu and enjoy a salad, side of jasmine or brown rice and a very fresh and crispy egg roll with sweet chile dipping sauce.
It was at lunch that I sampled the Pad him ma parn (cashew nut stir-fry, $12 entrée) teeming with crunchy vegetables and lightly toasted cashew nuts as well as the juicy lemongrass chicken marinated in a tangy, garlic-laced lemongrass sauce and then grilled to perfection. The only item we found disappointing was the basil stir-fry (pad ga prow, $12 entrée) that was quite dry to taste and lacked the punch I was expecting from the garlic and chile.
All of the seven curry options at Skewered Thai are just $12 and will provide generous leftovers if not shared with the table. An impressive green curry ($12) delivered the expected bell peppers and zucchini but also delighted with well-prepared eggplant chunks and bamboo shoots in a coconut milk base flavored with fresh Thai basil.
Noodle dishes such as the Pad Thai ($12) and pad see-ew ($12) don’t disappoint in flavor or freshness. Drunken noodles with chicken (pad kee mao, $12) offered a generous portion of pan-fried rice noodles, crunchy carrots, peppers and broccoli and fresh tomatoes, all sauced in a surprisingly spicy coating ordered from 1-5 heat level.
As you place your order, make sure to save room for dessert. Several flavors of coconut sticky rice ($7) are available, with the mango version a particularly beautiful and sweet ending to a meal.
Although Skewered Thai doesn’t allow you to bring your own wine, it offers a small but interesting wine list, along with Asian beers and sake — presented in its own mini ice bucket. Hot tea and iced tea and coffee specialties round out the beverage choices.
With location in its favor, Skewered Thai’s deft preparation of fresh and artful dishes as well as the comfortable atmosphere make it an excellent choice for a small gathering of friends on the patio or date night for two in Salt Lake City.
Heather L. King also writes for www.theutahreview.com and can be found on Twitter @slclunches
Food • HH
Mood • HH
Service • HH
Noise • b
Skewered Thai brings together fresh preparations of many Thai favorites in a comfortable and welcoming location sure to delight Salt Lake City diners.
Location • 575 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-364-1144
Online • www.skeweredthai.com
Hours • Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 5–9 p.m.
Children’s menu • No
Prices • $-$$
Liquor • Beer & wine
Corkage • Not allowed
Reservations • Yes
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • All major