Pawit's Royale Thai Cuisine
1968 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay ; 801-277-3658
One of the few Thai restaurants east of Highland Drive. Some glitches in dish execution and timing. Classy decor.
Hours: M-S, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; M-Th, 5-9 p.m.; F-S, 5-10 p.m.
Liquor: Beer & Wine
Recommended Dishes: Steamed spring rolls, Thai dumplings, chicken soup.
February 7, 2007
Minor glitches mar worthy eatery
By Lesli J. Neilson
HOLLADAY -- Is it my imagination or have Thai restaurants been popping up all over the place? Regardless, it's a good thing, for a couple of reasons: Thai cuisine is reasonably priced and what was once considered exotic is now mainstream.
But the service at six-month-old Pawit's Royale Thai Cuisine threw me. On my first visit to the restaurant, the cynic in me dismissed Ponpawit "Pawit" Numnuan's gracious behavior and above-par service as typical of a restaurant owner. But, after subsequent visits, I received that high standard of cordial service from all of the staff. Finally, I'd encountered customer service I could rave about!
Another welcome surprise was the design. The previous occupant's dingy surroundings have been transformed into a tasteful and inviting restaurant. Burnt-orange walls, attractive light fixtures, an aquarium in the room's center, a plasma TV highlighting the sights of Thailand and an ornately decorated altar at the front of the room all add to the restaurant's charm.
Could the same high praise be given to the food? While some of the dishes showed expert execution, others arrived lukewarm, all at once, flawed and, in some cases, with unexpected heat levels.
To be sure, the ample menu -- broken into appetizers; soups, salads and side dishes; noodle/rice dishes; curry dishes; stir-fried dishes; and "Pawit recommends" -- does not lack in options. The majority of the menu items can be had with tofu, pork, chicken, shrimp or beef to please all palates.
Of the appetizers, steamed spring rolls (por pia sod, $5.95) and Thai dumplings (keaw tod, $7.95) stood out. Two halved translucent spring roll wrappers contain shredded lettuce, shrimp, chicken, vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts. Savory peanut dipping sauce rounds out the flavors.
The six half-moon dumplings are filled with ground shrimp, carrot, bamboo shoots and glass noodles. They were a refreshing departure from the often-heavy Chinese interpretations that are filled with pork.
Though popular, I would skip the four chicken skewers (satay, $6.95). The tender but plain protein arrived lukewarm aside curry, peanut and cucumber dipping sauces. I found the same mundaneness with the boneless pork loin (moo yang, $7.95), more than a dozen slices of chewy marinated pork served with a sweet soy sauce.
Chicken soup (tom kha with chicken or tofu, $2.95 cup, $10.95 bowl), on the other hand, was an ethereal blend of green cabbage, chicken, mushrooms, chilies, coconut milk, galangal and makrut leaves, making it sweet, sour, savory and zippy all at once.
The stir-fried Asian eggplant (moo pad makau yaow, $12.95) gave me a similar feeling. The toothsome eggplant paired well with chicken, red and green bell pepper, onions and Thai basil, all awash in a sheen of spicy black bean sauce.
Green papaya salad (som tom, $8.95) was another winner, resplendent in heat and color with tangles of vermicelli and green papaya, chopped peanuts, shredded carrots, al dente Thai green beans and sticky rice.
The kitchen faltered with the yum goong ($12.95) -- grilled prawns with red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemongrass, green onions, mint and Thai chilies. For some inexplicable reason, the prawns came undercooked -- twice.
A stir-fried dish of room-temperature broccoli, carrots, Thai green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, baby corns and onions (pra ram, $9.95) arrived in a congealed peanut sauce. The dish was much better as reheated leftovers the next day.
Red curry (gang dang, $10.95), though vibrant and creamy with red and green bell peppers, bamboo shoots, pork, zucchini, green peas and Thai basil bathed in coconut milk, was incendiary despite the requested, and listed, medium heat.
The kitchen came back strong with a couple of desserts. Thai custard ($4.95), a brown, nondescript-looking rectangle, was anything but. Redolent of coconut and eggs and resting on a bed of coconut-doused sticky rice, the black-and-white-sesame-seed-dotted dessert gave away easily when cut with a fork. Warmed, sweetened sticky rice was also the perfect accompaniment to fresh mango ($5.95). In one bite, the flavors vacillated between hits of warm, soothing coconut milk and tangy, sweet mango.
For a newish kid on the block, Pawit's already has a lot going for it. Now it can begin to fine-tune its cuisine if it wants to stand out among the throng of Thai places dotting the valley.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.