The automatic air freshener in Thaifoon's restroom was so strong it made me cough. It was then that it dawned on me what's wrong about the Thai restaurant. It suffers from extremes. Like that overload of fragrance in the loo, many dishes suffer from excess. The waitstaff, on the other hand, is lacking. The restaurant used to have two out-of-state sisters who have since morphed into Ling & Louies, leaving the lone flagship Thaifoon. You'd think concentrating on just one restaurant would result in great things. Think again.
Shrimp "summer" rolls ($8.50) were ice cold and the quick-to-assemble starter had inexplicably been made ahead. Normally delicate rice paper was inedible, its meager contents of shrimp, rice noodles, mint and cilantro were no match to the bulk of stale, hard rice paper.
The same over-marinated beef was used in the Mongolian beef ($14.25) and Evil Jungle Princess ($14.25) entrees. Over-marinating breaks down the meat's proteins and leaves the cooked product mushy. Pad Thai ($14.25) was one of the worst versions I've tasted. The whole plate reeked of too much fish sauce and not much else. At least the bean sprouts were fresh.
Other dishes suffered because of timing. A "Bangkok" duck breast ($15.99) must have lingered under a heat lamp, waiting for its companions because its fanned slices were dry and woefully gray. Honey walnut shrimp ($15.50) was delivered warm and soggy.
Not everything was a disappointment. Ahi lettuce wraps ($9.50), cubes of raw tuna tossed with cilantro, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts and red onions, and served inside lettuce cups were a decent and vibrant appetizer. The pork ribs ($8.99), with a sweet hoisin-honey glaze, fell off the bone. The accompanying Asian slaw was refreshing.
Dessert returned to excess with gigantic scoops of vanilla ice cream and dollops of whipped cream crowning a banana caramel wonton spring roll ($7.49) replete with cheesecake, bananas and caramel. A chocolate "volcano" ($7.49) was supposed to have a molten center, instead it was just a soggy mess. Each dessert could have fed six.
Service was a diner's nightmare: Plates weren't cleared. Clean plates never arrived. Utensils and waters weren't replenished. Even if our server had been properly trained, the eight-seat banquette would have prevented even the most seasoned server from offering efficient and proper service.
Thaifoon Taste of Asia may offer an Asian-sounding menu and be the only one of its kind, but with its ho-hum menu and perfunctory service, it might as well just be one of many Thaifoons.
Description » From the over-marinated beef to excessive desserts, this Thai restaurant suffers from extremes. A ho-hum menu and perfunctory service make for an average dining experience.
Location » 7 N. 400 West (in The Gateway), Salt Lake City; 801-456-8429
Hours » Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
Children's menu » Yes
Prices » $$
Liquor » Full bar
Corkage » $10
Reservations » Recommended
Takeout » Yes
Wheelchair access » Yes
Outdoor dining » No
On-site parking » Yes
Credit cards » All major