Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shanghai Food Review: T for Thai

Hello everyone! I’m back again and this time, it’s to share my thoughts on another restaurant here in Shanghai. Continue reading about my experience at T for Thai…

The infamous T for Thai bar!

How I selected this restaurant:
 I was never into Thai food before I moved to Asia, but after going to a few Thai restaurants and learning how to cook a couple of Thai dishes at home, I can say with certainty that Thai food is one of my top five favorite cuisines.
I choose T for Thai not only for my love of Thai food, but also its Shanghai Restaurant Week menu and price (FYI for visitors: Shanghai Restaurant Week is held twice a year in the Fall, and then again in the Spring). I wanted to try this restaurant for a while and I guess the stars had perfectly aligned. So, I rounded up some fellow foodie girlfriends (also big Thai food lovers) and we trekked over to the Former French Concession (FFC) to get our grub on!

First Impressions:
The restaurant is located on the second floor above the French restaurant Cuivre. It’s a bit difficult to find, but once the waitress of Cuivre restaurant directed us where to go, we ascended up the many flights of steps (it wasn’t exhausting by any mean, but it’s not exactly ten steps either) and arrived at T for Thai.

Time for a Thai Tuk Tuk ride!

The view from our table
Immediately, you have the feeling of being in Thailand (well, the brief feeling) with images of elephants, trees and tricycles in front of you before you enter the restaurant. Once you enter the restaurant, it's very nice and vibrant with loads of neon colors and neutral colored tables and chairs. We were greeted by the friendly hostess who led us to the back of the barely busy restaurant near the bar (these points are crucial to the story). Once everyone arrived, it was time to order….
Drinks and Food
The menu at T for Thai was on an iPad; thus, my guests and I were able to touch, tap and swipe through our choices. Since I already knew what I wanted food wise (I was going with the Restaurant Week Menu), I went ahead and looked over the drink menu. As I spoke to my friends about the drinks, they warned me (since they had arrived at the restaurant before me) not to order any drinks since the waiter had told them there was only one man at the bar and drinks would take a long time….

SMDH….Only in China!

Forget the paper's all about going digital!

I settled on some water and once we were able to flag down a waiter, I selected the following four courses:

First Course: Meat Satay Skewers
Second Course: Pork and veggies with a creamy dipping sauce (sorry the name escapes me)
Third Course: Prawn Pad Thai
Dessert Course: Mango Coconut Sticky Rice (seriously one of my favorite desserts).

First Course: Meat Satay Skewers
 After 15-20 minutes, the waiter returned with our satay skewers (the whole table got them), which were a mix of beef, chicken and pork (not all on one stick, but different sticks). They looked nice and grilled and they arrived with a side of lime juice and satay sauce. We were getting ready to dig in until there was a very loud and audible sound coming from behind a door close to the bar. It was that oh so familiar sound, one you would instantly recognize if you’ve ever lived or visited China, you know what sound of talking about…

The hacking and spitting of phlegm!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, remember how I told you my party and I were seated by the bar in the back of the restaurant. Well, behind the bar was a storage area and the bartender went back there to clear a day’s worth of phlegm.  The whole table looked at each other in disgust and nobody touched their food for a good five minutes. We were all upset and we lost the happy feeling we had when we entered the restaurant. Finally, we got past the disgust and dug into our first course. The skewers were very good, but I’m sure they would have tasted better without all that hacking. After 10 minutes our second courses arrived…

Apparently, the waiter forgot there were five of us and he only brought three dishes. He somehow came back with the third course and once we told him we hadn’t received the second course, he said he would look into the two missing dishes. After another 15 minutes, he returned with the two missing dishes.

Second Course: The veggies and meat with the sauce!

I thought this dish was ok, it was wasn’t warm enough and the sauce could of used a bit more spices. I liked the crispiness of the vegetables and the taste of the meat, so I continued to eat until the third course arrived.

Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes and when it arrived, I got very excited! Unfortunately, my excitement turned to disappointment when I counted a mere two prawns in the dish.

Third Course: Prawn Pad Thai

Yes, there were two, medium sized prawns in the whole dish of pad thai. In addition to the lack of prawns, there was a lack of flavor and I found the dish to be lacking that zing of a good pad thai. As I was eating, I heard the bartender once again clear his mucus filled lungs (I’m sure the rest of my friends heard too), but I just had to block it out again and have my meal. I will say that the noodles tasted pretty good and there was a nice amount of peanuts.  Finally it was time for dessert….

We waited and waited and waited some more, but no dessert. As I mentioned earlier, the restaurant really wasn’t busy and by the time it came to the dessert course, there were only 3 other tables of people left. After 20 minutes, we flagged down the waiter to inquire about the dessert and he looked a bit puzzled and finally said “Oh, OK, please wait.” We waited for another 20 minutes and finally he returned with a small strip of mango and what must have been a spoonful of sticky rice (no joke). My table had a hearty laugh and in the end, we decided to just let it go and enjoy what we had in front of us. The dessert was good, but, I’ve had better at another Thai restaurant in the city.
Dessert Course: Mango Coconut Sticky Rice

Overall thoughts and Score:
I would give T for Thai a 2.5 out of 5 (they lost a half point on the phlegmy bartender). While the food was good, it was nothing really to write home about. There are better Thai choices in the city. Perhaps we came at a bad time, Sunday night on the last day of Restaurant Week, but I didn’t find the service to be amazing either (but better for what you get in Shanghai). I will say that the bathrooms were incredibly clean with toilet paper and handsoap (Yes, this speaks luxury in this city). As I always say, I would have to give it a second chance to really get a feel for the place. I’ll just make sure to request a table very, very far away from the bar.

Thanks again for reading and come back next time!

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