Downtown Santa Monica is something of a diner’s paradise, with virtually every style of cuisine available, from virtually every country in the known world.
I like to think I have a pretty good knowledge of what options of gastronomic joy are available in Santa Monica, so when my friend asked me if I had ever had T’s Thai food, I must confess that a mask of bewildered ignorance cloaked my face, as I had absolutely no awareness whatsoever of this particular restaurant. He did admit that it was a little innocuous and hard to spot, but it had been around for quite some time, and had something of a reputation for those “in the know” as being a great place for good, bargain, Thai home-style cooking.
So a’ sauntering we did go to Downtown Santa Monica for a late Sunday lunch at T’s Thai Restaurant.
Upon entry it was evident that T’s is more of a café style eatery than a full blown restaurant, however it did retain a smattering of Asian dining prerequisites, such as the obligatory Buddhist God effigies, a ubiquitous tropical fish tank on the counter and the ever- popular menu translation error (“sliced of meat with mixture of green chili and basil”!).
There are some interesting art pieces adorning the walls, including a deliberately out-of-focus photograph of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris that initially had me reaching for my reading glasses in a moment of near panic.
The furniture at T’s is minimalist and stylish, and, as is common with Thai establishments, the restaurant appeared to be a family affair, with our server being a hip and genial young Thai guy.
The menu is standard Thai/Chinese that includes such traditions as Panang Curry (with special curry and coconut milk, $6.95) and Ginger Stir-Fried (slices of meat, fresh ginger roots, onions and mushrooms stir-fried in their house recipe, $6.95) as well as a couple of ever so slightly left-of-center dishes like Catfish Supreme (crispy deep fried catfish with a three flavor sauce, $11.95).
My friend and I followed the traditional protocol of Asian dining and ordered a number of dishes to share, family style, if you will.
Firstly, we appetized ourselves with the Chicken Sate (six chicken or beef filets on bamboo sticks, marinated in a mixture of Thai herbs and coconut milk, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, $6.95).
These arrived quickly and were all white meat, generously sized, supremely tasty and succulent and, with the flavorful cucumber salad and deliciously rich peanut sauce, made for a delightful prelude to the rest of our lunch.
Before we had finished enjoying our appetizers, our table was rapidly being dressed with the other dishes: Mixed Vegetable Fried Rice ($6.95), Pineapple Curry with tofu ($6.95) and Prig King (often spelled Prik King, and consisting of slices of beef, chicken or for an extra buck, shrimp, sautéed in curry paste sauce with green beans, $6.95).
We opted to splurge and invest the extra dollar to include the tender and juicy prawns that, with the al dente and well-spiced green beans, certainly satisfied the palate.
The rice was fluffy without a hint of grease and amply adorned with a traditional medley of Asian vegetables, including peppers, snow peas, thinly sliced carrots and broccoli.
The pineapple curry was a very large serving, aromatic and mildly spiced, with the coconut milk giving it a rich and creamy texture, and the pineapple, greens and baby corn adding enough flavors to compliment the delicate cubes of tofu.
With a delicious and rather large Thai iced tea we thoroughly enjoyed T’s, and I am now grateful to my friend for introducing to me what, I am sure, would have remained one of the great unknown (at least to me) cafés of Santa Monica.
Hmmm, I wonder how many more can there be?
T’s Thai Restaurant, 1215 4th Street, 310.395.4106