#199: Pinto Thai Bistro

As of this posting Pinto Thai Bistro is the newest restaurant in Roseville (unless Cheese Louise has sneakily opened).  A little while ago when I was headed to Mary’s Pizza Shack for that post I stopped by to see if this new Thai place had opened yet, and they had.  I stepped inside to grab a menu and asked how long they had been open, to which the answer was just a few days.  Now that they’ve had a few weeks to find their feet it was time to have dinner and see what they are all about.  I was joined last night by some family at about 5:30.  I was about 10 minutes early and was met up by my brother and his wife moments later.  We stepped inside ahead of the rest of our party to get seated.

Inside, Pinto Thai is larger than I had expected.  It is nicely decorated and modern feeling.  A little different than most Thai places around here is the bare floor and unfinished ceiling, which can carry sound pretty well.  The place was pretty quiet for most of our stay with just a few other customers, but with an infant that was talking up a storm (or trying to, anyway) it felt a little busier due to the noise.  One of the owners (I’m assuming) greeted us and took us to the end of the dining room, where she put a couple of tables together for our group, and had us seated.  She left for a moment to get the additional place settings and then asked if we would like to order drinks.  Their beer & wine license is pending, it would be a couple more weeks according to her, and she was very apologetic about it.  We all just went with Thai Iced Teas.

Soon my mom and grandma joined us and we set about deciding on our order.  I must say that this is the most easy to read and American/English-friendly one I’ve seen so far.  Everything is described well and there is not a single word in Thai (aside from some phonetic English translations).  One thing that I wasn’t sure about was that most of the drinks were followed by “(refill)”.  I wasn’t sure if that meant a refill was the same price as the first, or if refills were included.  Thai Iced Tea was one of these and it seemed unlikely to me, at the time, that you would get a refill on that since most places don’t do it.  Turns out I was wrong, you get (at least one) free refill on the large Thai Iced Tea, so at $2.50 this is a great value, and the tea is freaking delicious too!

We ordered our food, including a couple of appetizers.  When it was particularly quiet you could hear them making everything back in the kitchen.  The appetizers came about in roughly 15 minutes.  We had Chicken Sa-Tay (Grilled marinated chicken breast on a skewer, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad) [$8.95] and Fried Spring Rolls (Spring roll wrapper stuffed with cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, served with sweet & sour sauce) [$6.95].  The spring rolls were extremely hot and had a crisp, flakey outer-shell.  A little dip in the clear-ish sweet & sour sauce and these were quite good.  The check sa-tay was delicious and full of flavor from the curry marinade.  The peanut sauce that this came with was crazy good, the best I’ve ever had.  There were lots of coarsely ground peanuts in it giving it a wonderful texture and crunch.  The chicken itself was perhaps a touch on the dry side but still pretty good.

The main dishes started arriving about 5 minutes after the appetizers.  They didn’t come all at once, but instead were brought out one by one about a minute apart from each other.  It was a little odd.  They didn’t have any serving utensils with them and we eventually had to ask for them once the last dish arrived.  First up was my favorite, Pad Se-iew (Pan fried flat rice noodles with egg, garlic, carrots, broccoli and brown sauce) [$9.95] with chicken.  This was easily one of the best I’ve ever had.  The noodles were done perfectly and there was plenty of egg and sauce mixed in for a wonderfully rich flavored dish that had plenty of tender pieces of chicken.

Next up was Basil Fried Rice (Wok-fried rice with egg, onions, red bell pepper, basil and garlic chili sauce) [$9.95].  This one was designated on the menu as spicy with a little hot pepper beside the name.  I found it to be maybe 2.5 out of 5 in terms of spiciness.  Enough to enjoy but not so much as to overwhelm any other flavor or clear out your sinuses.  The rice itself was very good.  I love freshly prepared fried rice and this was definitely that.  We had this with tofu.

Lastly, we had the Pineapple Curry (Red curry paste with coconut milk, pineapple, tomato, red bell pepper and basil) [$9.95] also with tofu.  I was a little concerned about this one because at first glance it seemed to be lighter in color than most.  I had a very dull looking red curry at Papaya Thai (now closed) that was not at all good.  That concern was thankfully unwarranted, the curry was fantastic!  We did not receive any steamed rice along with this one automatically and had to ask for some, which was brought out in just a minute or so.  The pineapple was super ripe and delicious, contrasting with the savory red curry.

I think this may have been the first time my grandma has had Thai food and she totally into it, particularly loving the pad se-iew and the pineapple curry.  I had noticed on the menu that they had mango sticky rice [$5.95] in the dessert section.  This is something I haven’t encountered outside of Thailand yet and was curious to see if it would be as good.  They also have fried banana with ice cream, fried banana with honey, and stand-alone ice cream.  The ice cream is Gunther’s, a local favorite out of Sacramento, which somehow I’ve still yet to try.  We ordered up two servings of mango sticky rice, one with white rice and the other with black.  These came out in about 5 minutes.  So far it looked like pretty much the same thing I had eaten before from the roadside stalls.  We were given a stack of small dessert plates and spoons.  The spoons were an odd choice.  We all agreed, after much fumbling with the slippery mango slices, that forks would have been better.  The rice was served warm with a sweet coconut milk-based topping.  The mangos were good, but I felt like they could have been a bit more ripe.  They had just a hint of tartness to them.  I remember the mangos in Thailand being extremely ripe, soft and sweet.  Still, this was really good and everyone liked it.

Add another name to the list of very good Roseville Thai restaurants.  The food here was great.  The main issue I had here was that the pacing was way off, if you can call it pacing at all.  We were left without a visit for quite some time after being delivered our food, so it was a while before we were able to even order the dessert.  I felt like this could be one of two things.  The owners, who were doing all the service, were both very quiet and almost a bit timid.  In Thailand, and I’m sure elsewhere outside the US, you aren’t rushed through and given your check unless you ask for it, so I felt like maybe something like that was going on here.  On the other hand, they may simply not have the serving experience necessary to meet our expectations.  Perhaps they could use a dedicated and experienced server to handle the front of the house.  That said, they were both very friendly and seemed eager to please their patrons.  I still think this is a great Thai place and worth the slower than usual paced service for the excellent food.  Take-out is certainly a good option as well.

As of now I’m waiting on the next restaurant to open, so stay tuned.  In the meantime I might go check out a cafe in an Indian market on Foothills that a fellow Roseville foodie/blogger let me know about.

Website: http://www.pintothairoseville.com

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#124: Khobkoon Thai Cuisine

Tonight I discovered that my kitchen had a lot less in it than I realized and so found myself heading into Khobkoon Thai Cusine for dinner.  Khobkoon is located at Foothills and Pleasant Grove in the same shopping center as Campelli’s, Beach Hut, Knucklehead and Sushi Mon.  It’s a pretty small little place, probably about the same size as Khun Suda but laid out differently.  It was about half full when I arrived just after 7PM.  Most of the dining room is a narrow strip down the length of the building on the right.  I try not to point my camera at other customers whenever possible, so tonight this meant no interior photos.  The lighting is both dim and bright at the same time.  What I mean by that is the wood paneled walls (very similar to Ruen Thai, in fact the interior design and decorations are similar as well) seem somewhat dimly lit, but every table is fairly bright from directional lighting in the ceiling.  You’ll see a pretty clear shadow from these lights in my iced tea photos below.

I was seated right about in the middle of the restaurant.  On my side the tables each have 4 chairs.  On the other, the tables have two chairs on one side and bench seating along the entire wall.  I was left to look at the menu for a while.  They seem to have all the usual stuff but nothing too fancy, like the special curries (mango, duck, pumpkin, avocado), that some of the other Thai joints have.  Actually it took me a little while to even find their standard red/yellow/green curry.  Instead of having a dedicated “Curry” section in the menu, these are listed as a single line under A La Carte.  The rest of the menu is divided up into Appetizers, Soup, Beef, Pork, Poultry, BBQ, Seafood, Vegetarian and Noodles.  I quickly picked Pad Se-Ew (stir-fried thread-rice noodle with egg, bell pepper, cabbage, tomatoes, chili, and basil) and Red Curry (curry with vegetables, choice of chicken, beef or pork), both of these with chicken.  I waited for a while, with the menu closed, for what seemed like the only server to come take my order.  There was one or two others helping him by running food out and clearing plates, but he was pretty much covering the whole place on his own otherwise.  When he did stop to get my order he was definitely in a bit of a rush because he nearly took off before I told him my second dish.  I also asked what their spice levels were and he simply responded “medium?”.  I was like, “uh, ok, sure.”  I figured out later by overhearing conversation from the table behind me that the different levels are mild, medium and spicy.

I sipped on iced water for about 5 minutes until my Thai Iced Tea came.  After mixing it up I gave it a try.  The flavor was good.  It did seem to be a bit on the thin side, but this might just be because I had a super smooth and creamy mango lassi from Tandoori Nights earlier in the day.  It was about 15 minutes later when my food finally came out. A huge container of steamed rice, while not even halfway full, had way more rice than I needed, even including leftovers.  The curry was in a long, shallow dish with most of the solid items piled up in the center.  My first impression was that I thought it looked a bit runny, like Papaya Thai Cuisine’s curries.  The Pad Se-Ew was a good sized mound on a big plate.  Both dishes seemed to have lots of chicken.

I spooned some red curry over the steamed rice and a serving of noodles.  The serving spoons weren’t much bigger than mine, if they were even different at all.  This made the serving process take a little longer as I had to specifically go back to get some more red curry coconut milk and because the large noodles were quick to slide right off.  I thought the Pad Se-Ew was very good.  The chicken was just a touch on the dry side, but not too bad.  The noodles themselves were excellent, perfectly cooked and coated with a sweet soy sauce.  The broccoli still had a good crisp to it.  Medium was a very good choice for heat.  My nose wasn’t running but I bet the next step up would have been well into that territory.  The curry was not nearly as good as the Pad Se-Ew.  The chicken was about the same, a bit dry.  The main issue with the dish was that it was almost completely devoid of flavor.  I was very disappointed with it.  I didn’t even get any spice from it either.  I may as well have been eating plain chicken and rice.

Pricing seemed about the same as most Thai places.  My bill came to about $22, which isn’t bad at all if you factor in leftovers.  I feel like I did a lot of waiting around here.  Waiting, menu closed, for my order to be taken, waiting a relatively long time for my food, waiting afterwards for my check to come, etc.  I had kind of wanted one more iced tea but he never stopped to check on me between my food arriving and getting the check.  These things coupled with the red curry leave me not really wanting to come back.  The pad se-ew was the one really excellent thing here, but we’ve got plenty of other great Thai restaurants in town that have it along with fantastic curries.

Website: http://www.khobkoon.com

#118: New Thai Kitchen (renamed My Thai Kitchen)

I just returned from dinner at a Thai place called New Thai Kitchen, which is located next to The Pita Pit and Costa Vida, in the Stone Point shopping center on Eureka.  I think I found out about this restaurant from the Yelp deal that I bought.  It’s still available if you want to get one ($10 for $20 deal at New Thai Kitchen).  I remembered seeing on their specials board, which they had sitting outside on the day I went to Costa Vida, that they had some excellent sounding curries that you don’t always see at other Thai places.  Yelp deal in hand I met up with my mom and we went in at just after 5PM.

We were the only customers and were greeted and seated immediately by a friendly waitress.  She took our drink orders right then and there.  I ordered a Thai iced tea and we both got waters.  I could see the specials board up on the kitchen counter but had to get up closer to be able to read it.  There I saw the curries that were there before: mango(red curry in coconut milk, basil and bell peppers), pumpkin(red curry in coconut milk, basil and bell peppers) & avocado(green curry in coconut milk, carrots and avocado).  I’ve only ever seen avocado curry at Auburn Thai Garden, which I’ve considered to be either the best or tied with Khun Suda Thai as the best Thai restaurant I’ve been to, and their avocado curry is amazing.  I knew I would be ordering that for sure.  As I sat back down our drinks were brought out.  My iced tea was un-mixed and had some straw wrapper art going on, which I’ve never seen before.  I thought this was a nice little touch!  I mixed it up and started sipping on it while we figured out what else we would order.  We decided on the Pad Se-iew (wide size rice noodles, egg, broccoli, carrot, mushroom in a sweet soy sauce), shrimp rolls (fried prawns in crispy wrappers. Served with sweet ‘n sour sauce and chopped roasted peanuts) and chicken satay (strips of chicken breast grilled on bamboo skewers and served with a side of peanut sauce and cucumber salad).

I’m embarrassed to report my very first spilled drink since starting Eating Through Roseville.  I dumped my nearly full iced tea right over.  My camera only sustained minimal splattering and I yanked it off the table before the rush of orange liquid could do more damage.  I used my hand to keep as much of it on the table as possible while the entire staff jumped into action.  They were all really good-natured about it and several were laughing, along with my mom and I.  We were moved to another table and I had a brand new iced tea waiting for me there before I had even sat back down.  They were on top of things.  1 out of 118, I think that’s pretty respectable considering how often I’m shifting plates and glasses around to get the right angle or light for a shot 😉

The layout has a somewhat open kitchen.  If it weren’t for the tallish counter we would be able to watch our food being cooked.  You can certainly hear the sizzling and steaming going on in there.  Soon we had our appetizers in front of us.  The chicken satay had four flat strips of grilled chicken on skewers.  I thought these were pretty good.  The chicken was fairly moist and tender.  The peanut sauce was a bit thinner than I’m used to, but the flavor was spot on despite that.  The cucumber salad added a nice crisp texture.  The shrimp rolls were really good.  I loved the incredibly crispy fried wrap on it, and the prawns/shrimp were good sized.  A little or a lot of sweet & sour sauce was good on these.  It wasn’t overpowering so I was able to add a bunch and get more of the flavor without covering up the taste of the prawns.  These two appetizers were a nice size to split between two people.  We ate them both completely and had plenty of room for the main course.

Our waitress cleared our appetizer plates and, not long after, the curry and noodles arrived.  These were both a good size.  We were planning on saving enough so my mom could take home a serving for my dad and it worked out perfectly.  The avocado curry was loaded with super green, ripe avocados and there was plenty of pork in it as well (choice of pork, chicken beef or seafood [probably prawns]) and was really, really good.  I loved the consistency with the smooth texture of the avocados.  I’m used to this being pretty spicy at Auburn Thai, since the people I always go there with like it that way.  I have to say I kind of miss that heat, but I’m certain New Thai Kitchen is fully capable of making it that way if requested.  My mom is not a fan so I have to do that when she’s not with me.  I will say that after a while one of the dishes did show a touch of heat, not really enough to do anything, but enough to notice if you hadn’t taken a drink for a while.  The pad se-iew was fantastic, and I think this might be my new favorite place for it.  Everything was perfect, the noodles were slippery and cooked just right, the flavor of the sweet soy sauce was rich, the pork was nice and tender (occasionally been a bit dry elsewhere) and the good balance of all the other ingredients in general.  I kind of wish I was still eating some right now.

Unfortunately we had no room for dessert.  This was a pretty good amount of food at reasonable prices.  I will absolutely be returning, I think New Thai Kitchen easily ranks up there with the best Thai restaurants, maybe even making my favorite a three-way tie with Auburn Thai and Khun Suda.  The staff were all very friendly, super fast and efficient.  Definitely some of the faster service I’ve seen at the Thai places I’ve been.

Website: http://www.newthaikitchen.com/