Yesterday evening I was in the mood for Thai. I had a small lunch and was already hungry on my drive home from work. Once home, I didn’t waste much time before grabbing my camera and heading out to Roseville’s newest Thai restaurant, Bhan Thai. Bhan Thai is located on Cirby at Rocky Ridge and in the same building as Cool River Pizza, just on the other side. They’ve been open for a little over a month now.
I showed up pretty early at about 4:30. After taking a moment to photograph the exterior, I headed in. The inside is nice looking, though a bit oddly laid out. I’m not sure what business was here before but I got the impression that maybe it was a coffee house or something. There is a counter in front as you walk in where they have placed seats. I bet baristas worked on the other side. In the opposite corner of the restaurant, where I ended up sitting, looked like it could have been an area for live music, based on the ceiling-work that remained above. Overall the dining room itself is decent enough, there is one odd table way off by itself against the back wall, I bet the employees use that one more than anyone else. There is a good size patio that faces Cirby, though they only have a single table and umbrella set up there, again, I think more for employee use than anything. I laughed a little when I saw this photo on their Facebook inviting customers to eat outside, I guess only one party can fit at a time! Hopefully they will add some more tables.
As it was pretty early there was not a soul to be seen when I entered. In fact, despite the door beeping to announce my arrival, I didn’t even see any staff. I made my way up to the main counter and stood for a moment, expecting someone to come around the corner to greet me. After about 30 seconds it was obvious that no one had heard me enter. I was curious how long it would take someone to notice so I stood there quietly, picking up a menu from the main stack to thumb through. I soon noticed that there was someone sitting out at the lone table and facing the street. I figured that was probably the staff. A minute later she got up and came inside. When she realized I was there she seemed both surprised and embarrassed, apologizing. I wasn’t in any hurry so I didn’t mind, I actually thought it was kind of funny. I told here I’d eat there and I picked a table in the front corner.
I already knew what I was ordering but gave the menu another once-over to make sure. It’s a pretty typical Thai menu. One thing they have that most don’t is duck, one of my favorite ingredients for Thai food. When she came back a minute later I ordered the Duck Curry [$11.95], Pad See Ew (Stir fry wide rice noodle with broccoli and egg)[$9.85] and a Thai Tea [$2.50]. The tea was out in just a couple of minutes, ready to be stirred up and reveal the deep orange coloring. This was a fairly strong Thai tea, and it was delicious. With it came a water, and as I took a sip of that later I noticed, looking down at the bottom of the glass through the water, that they are IKEA glasses, specifically the POKAL glass. For whatever reason, I thought this was interesting.
Exactly 10 minutes after placing my order I had the two dishes brought out to me. She didn’t bring me dedicated dinner plate but since it was just me it didn’t really matter and is probably the reason. Strangely enough, the serving utensils were still there anyway. Both dishes looked fantastic and were very well presented. The pad see ew was maybe one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen with the fluffy egg on display at the top and sprinkled with green onions. The duck curry was laid out with a serving of rice on a long dish. One thing about this that I haven’t seen before was the white sauce/cream on the top. I didn’t think to taste it on it’s own before mixing everything together so unfortunately I’m not sure what that was or if it’s a typical ingredient or not. There were plenty of pieces of duck in this along with bamboo shoots, red and green bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and pineapple, all of which sat in a shallow red-orange pool of hot coconut milk mixed with red curry. I spread the rice out evenly and mixed it all up.
The flavor of this was perfect, from the curry to the ripe, sweet pineapple and dark, rich duck meat. I ordered both dishes with medium spice and it was just what I was in the mood for. Well below sinus-clearing territory. The one major problem I had with this dish, and basically the only reason I didn’t give Bhan Thai 5/5, was that I encountered three pieces of duck which still had a little bit of bone in them. I really hate that. I somehow picked those three pieces back to back, so after I hit them it was smooth sailing through the rest of dinner and my leftovers for lunch today. As for the pad see ew, when I first started to dig around in it, and mix in the egg a little, I saw some noodles stuck together. This is usually a precursor to disappointing rice noodles for me. It tends to leave many noodles unexposed to the sauce when cooking and therefore somewhat bland, and in some extreme cases they don’t get cooked all the way through. Somehow this dish did not seem to suffer from either of those problems. The flavor of the sweet soy sauce was strong enough that even the couple noodles here and there that didn’t get in much contact with it were not noticeable, and they seemed to be cooked just fine, sharing the same slippery-soft texture as their brothers (is that weird? Should I not call them that? haha). Anyway, this dish was basically perfect aside from those stuck noodles, which didn’t even have an impact. I had ordered this with pork and there were lots of tasty pieces in it.
Aside from the duck bones, which will probably keep me sticking to Ruen Thai for my duck curry needs, the flavors and textures here were top notch. The service, which had a rocky start, ended up being fine. Both the server and another woman that popped out of the kitchen later checked up on me while I was eating, and my server packed up my leftovers at the table for me. I left full and happy.
Website: They have an address on their business card but it does not work: BhanThai.com