Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Narai Thai Asian Cuisine – Olympia, WA

Coach and I were in Washington’s capitol and had to find something eat before going to watch the Minnesota RollerGirls battle it out with the Oly Rollers (Olympia’s top-ranked roller derby team). We were driving around downtown Olympia and came across an entire street of Thai food places. Literally all next door and across the street from each other. Like a Thai hub in Olympia. We picked one at random and grabbed a table.

The inside was nicely decorated and had numerous fountains around the dining area. The sound of water was actually soothing, although it immediately made me have to find the restroom. The server came over and brought us menus, and I was pleasantly surprised with the number of actual Thai dishes on the pages. Sometimes, you find those cross over restaurants with half Chinese food. This isn’t one of those. It had a couple of fried rice dishes, but most of the dishes were noodle based or stir fry. All of them looked delicious. Really good descriptions of each dish were included which always makes thing easier.

I went for the Clear Noodle Stir Fry with Chicken and an order of fresh spring rolls. The server asked how hot I wanted the noodles. I told him not to be shy with the spice and he said, “So, Thai-Spicy, then.” I told him I think so, since I’ve never heard that term before. Coach and I questioned each other (after the server left) if there were other countries we could have named. Canada spicy. Luxemburg spicy. Ivory Coast spicy.

The spring roll arrived and I was mostly happy with it. It was a nice thick roll with a lot of lettuce on the inside. The wrapper was a tad gummy and looked like it was dissolving, so I’m not sure how long ago they made them. But it came with two different dipping sauces – a peanut sauce and a sweet chili sauce. Bother sauces were actually quite good and I ended up going back and forth between the two. It wasn’t ground breaking, but it was a decent tasting spring roll.

The clear noodle stir fry arrived shortly after that and you could see some flecks of red chili peppers throughout the dish. There was a bowl of white rice accompanying both my dish and coach’s, which doesn’t always happen when you order noodle dishes, so I was glad to see it. There was a lot of cabbage in the dish – in fact the menu says it has cabbage, napa, and bokchoy in it – which are all cabbage. The dish had a few other veggies, like mushrooms, carrots, and snow pea pods, but thankfully, not too many onions. The chicken pieces were generous and also tasted really good. No gristle or questionable pieces. The noodles were perfectly cooked, which was awesome. I had a little issue with the garlic sauce that everything was cooked in, only in that it tasted more fishy than garlicky. Not a huge fan of fish sauce, unless the fishy flavor gets cooked out a little bit. This flavor was pretty prevalent in everything. The best part about it was the spice level. Apparently “Thai-spicy” is right on. The perfect level of spice. Clears your sinuses, but doesn’t make you cry. You feel your lips tingling, but you don’t want to stop eating. Perfectly suited to my particular spice needs.

Coach was mostly happy with his dish, as well. He had ordered the Basil Stir Fry at the Thai-spicy level. The brown sauce it was cooked in was delicious and the spice level was perfect for him. It did have an overwhelming number of green beans in the dish though. Otherwise, a pretty solid plate of food.

I think we were both pretty happy with our meals, especially for having picked it at random. I’m guessing most things on the menu are going to be better than average. Maybe not game changing, but I don’t think you’re going to hate anything they serve here. The servers were really nice and helpful, so I’m guessing they’ll recommend things if you have weird food concerns. And everything is made fresh, so I’m also guessing you could have them special make things or add/remove any items.

Top 5 things about Narai Thai Asian Cuisine
1. Overall spice level
2. Clear Noodle Stir Fry
3. Basil Stir Fry
4. Fresh Spring Roll
5. Really good staff

Bottom 5 things
1. Fishy garlic sauce
2. Seems like they pick one veggie to overload on (cabbage/lettuce/green beans)
3. The water fountain noise makes you have to pee
4. There were a ton of other dishes I wish I could try
5. There are homeless folks and musical unbathed gypsy teens sitting all over the streets of Olympia – just be ready for it


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