Monday, November 26, 2007

Royal Thai Nashville

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Royal Thai
120 19th Avenue North

Sometimes you just have to go with the standby joint. It’s the restaurant that doesn’t jump out as a must do, but when faced with adversity you can turn to for a decent meal. Royal Thai in Nashville is our standby joint. The other day we went out with friends to Fatoush, only to find them closed a half an hour before scheduled. We quickly fell back on Royal Thai.

There are several Royal Thai’s in the area, including Brentwood, Franklin and Hermitage. Everyone has a favorite and it seems everyone has a gripe or two about each location. It’s about the same for us. A few things we almost always enjoy. The soups are usually good. This time out we ordered the classic Tom Ka Kai, a coconut milk based broth with chicken, mushrooms and lemon grass. It hit the spot on a blustery night. Next up was Satay kai, curried chicken strips on skewers with peanut Satay sauce. While the Satay sauce was good, the chicken was a bit dry and overcooked. The vegetarian appetizer combo did better. The battered and lightly fried zucchini mushroom and tofu was handled delicately, leaving the veggies room to do the talking.

We’ve complained about bad Pad Thai before. It’s really unforgivable at a Thai restaurant. It’s been hit and miss at Royal Thai and this night was a big, huge miss. The noodles appeared to be microwaved or massively overcooked and sauced to a floppy mess. It also had a bizarre taste to it, perhaps of fish sauce or something more exotic. It actually had a faint chemical tinge to it. We moved on to the chicken Pa-naeng, which is a coconut milk based red curry with nice spice and lemon grass. It nearly made up for the Pad Thai disaster. Our friends ordered Neua Pad Namman Hoy, sliced beef, onions and bell peppers in a brown oyster sauce. It was good.

Veggie Eater:
I ordered the Pad Pak Bai Kra Prao; these were veggies (cabbage, broccoli Napa cabbage, carrots, peppers, snow peas, mushrooms, etc) stir fried with a spicy sauce. I am normally a sucker for noodles, but since the group ordered the veggie Pad Thai, it allowed me to deviate a bit from the norm. The veggies had a bit of kick and a nice garlicky flavor. And there was a whole lot of them…I concur about the Pad Thai; just kind of weird. I really have a hankering for consistent, great Thai food and I am sad to report that Royal Thai does not fit the bill. Will I continue to go there when I want Thai food? Yes. Does it make me wax nostalgic about Thai restaurants in cities elsewhere? Yes.

Meat Eater:
The total was $84 for four entrees, two apps and the soup. We’ll probably keep heading back to Royal Thai, but they should be careful. If a better Thai place opens up in that part of town, we may be testing new waters.

Royal Thai on Urbanspoon


Lesley said...

I really miss Salathai for the large vegetarian selection and that awesome peanut dressing, but I have heard good things about Basil's and Jasmine down in Williamson county. I just never make it down there, so I make do with Siam Cuisine and Golden Thai. Royal Thai doesn't really do much for me.

Eric and Katie said...

Siam is pretty good and like you we just never make it down to Williamson County. You would imagine a really good Thai place in Vandyland would do well.

Lannae said...

This sounds a bit so-so. I went to a RT in downtown (where SATCO is off of 2nd Ave No now) when I first got here 10 years ago, and it was bad, as bad as mall Chinese food. I went to the RT in C.S. about 8 years ago and it was barely a step up from mall food. I have never gone back. Basil, although not really Thai, it is more Asian fusion, is tasty, but it is all they way in the "belly of the beast" C.S. I would have to say that Golden Thai is better than the rest.

The Thai standby for me right now is Thai Kitchen near 100 Oaks. It is kind of grey looking, and worn out, and next to a strange motel (with probably some business going on in there). But the owner of Thai Kitchen used to cook at Siam a few years ago when Siam was actually good. Most food is pretty good, some ok, but the veggies are always fresh, and the food is way cheap $5-7 per entree. I never eat there, I always take out. For what ever it is worth, I have a little soft spot for this little shop.

turducken said...

Dang it! I was craving pad thai and went here for dinner tonight. It was easily the worst pad thai I've ever had. Wish I had remembered to check here first.

Veggie Eater said...

I have gained a bit more respect for the difficulty of making great pad thai after attempting it myself this weekend. I consider myself a pretty good amateur cook, but boy, I missed the boat on this. Makes me appreciate really fantastic pad thai even more, now that I know I won't be getting it in my own home...