Isan Zaap Thai Cafe has taken over a space in a small group of businesses Gardens Park Boulvard, which fronts Millenia Boulevard. In fact, it replaced a fast fooder called Thai Express.
Thai Express had the typical layout with a lane along the left wall for arriving customers to approach the ordering station. Isan Zaap is a full service restaurant, so that lane isn’t needed. But instead of removing the barrier, the owners have just blocked it off.
In fact, much of the space is the same, including furniture, wall coverings and overall decor. Only the menu and name have changed.
Isan refers to the northeast of Thailand; zaap is a word that can mean spiciness or sassy.
One of the typical dishes of northeastern Thailand is Isan Sausage, or sai krok Isan. It’s a link-style sausage with a filler of ground pork and rice. It also has a bit of vinegar in the blend, which gives the sausage a pungent taste. Isan Zaap deep fries its sai krok and serves it with peanuts, ginger and slaw. It was a tangy little starter.
Its pad Thai, ordered with chicken, had a nice peanutty sauce that coated the chewy noodles, accompanied by bean sprouts and crushed nuts.
The red curry, with beef, was ordered medium hot and it had just the right level of spiciness in the coconut-milk base. The chunks of red and green bell peppers had a pleasant chew.
I had planned on ordering my food in advance and picking it up because I had an errand to run in that part of town. Isan Zaap does have an online ordering form for both delivery and pickup. But I noticed something odd: The menu prices were on average two dollars more per item than the dine-in menu. I understand that for delivery – restaurants need to recoup some of the monies they have to pay the third-party delivery companies. But charging extra for pickup orders? (Yes, there are costs for takeout containers, but on the other hand, the restaurant doesn’t have the labor and energy costs associated with cleaning dishes in house, so it’s a wash, so to speak.)
That said, the staff were welcoming and gracious, not only to me but to the others I observed enjoying the restaurant.