Restaurant Review: Chai Thai Orange Avenue
A year and a half ago I told you about a new little Thai restaurant called Chai Thai. Now that little restaurant has another little location. One more and it will qualify as a chain -- and it would only have to add an n to the end of its name.
The two locations couldn’t be more different in style -- one has some, the other doesn’t.
Well, maybe that’s a little harsh, but the original Chai Thai occupies a space that has been a number of restaurants, most recently -- and for a good long time -- a Chinese eatery and various other cuisines, including Spanish. The place is well-worn and frankly a bit drab.
But the new location, on Orange Avenue across from the SoDo complex, has a fresh newness about it, from its slatelike flooring to the highly polished dark wood tabletops.
Both locations, however, share the same sincere friendliness of the staffers and, most importantly, fine food.
I met a friend for lunch recently and we started our meal with an order of Angel Wings, one of my favorite Thai appetizers. It should be noted that no angels actually were de-winged in the preparation of the dish. (If every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings, what sound do you hear for a de-winging? Never mind.)
Angel Wings are actually chicken wings (and, yes, the chickens lose their wings for this dish -- really no way around it). The wings are reshaped so they’re straight instead of akimbo, and the upper bone is removed and that cavity stuffed with clear noodles and chopped vegetables. The result is something that resembles more a a chicken leg. (So, why, you’re wondering, don’t they just use chicken legs to begin with? Well, where’s the creativity in that? And do you really think anyone’s going to order something called Angel Drums?)
After they’re stuffed, the wings cum legs are breaded and deep-fried. Chai’s had a wonderfully crispy crust. The best way to describe it is that it was similar to Popeye’s extra crispy recipe. Only tastier.
For my main course I chose the massaman curry with beef, with a heat specification of medium-hot. It had thin slices of beef mixed with meaty chunks of potatoes and onions in a creamy sauce dotted with red flecks of pepper. The spiciness was just right, just enough heat to clear the sinuses but not enough to permanently singe them.
My companion chose the crispy duck lunch special. For a lunch portion is was certainly ample. And really quite delicious. And part of the attraction of the dish was the crispy texture of the skin mixed with the juiciness of the breast meat. This one was ordered “medium but a little on the lower side,” and it, too, was appropriately spiced.
The lunch specials came with a simple salad of greens topped with a ginger dressing, and a small stogie-sized fried Thai egg roll. Nothing special, but a nice addition to the meal.
The new Chai Thai is located at 2447 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-898-1181. The original Chai Thai is at 3334 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. The phone number there is 407-841-8981.