Thai cuisine has an incredible range. There's the classic creamy peanut sauce, fiery hot curries, sweet basil sauces, and the staple Padt Thai. One of my favorite Thai restaurants around is the often overlooked Pattaya Thai.
Pattaya Thai is not one of the big names around town but certainly a big deliverer. It is owned by an American gentleman, his Thai wife, and their chef son who takes his mother's traditional Thai recipes and throws in some modern flair.
Since the lady hadn't had any Thai food (at least not recently enough that she could remember it), I was itching to introduce her and Pattaya seemed like the perfect place to do it. The restaurant itself has a nicely done interior; mellow, classy, but not intimidatingly polished.
Taking it slow, we started with the Spring Pair spring rolls: Two crispy fried rice shells tightly wrapped around a seasoned mix of ground pork, bean thread noodles, julienne cabbage, carrot sticks, sliced celery, and diced waterchest-nuts with sweet chili sauce. For me, fried spring rolls rarely deliver but these are quite the exception. They were so good that we devoured the lot before I could remember to take a picture.
Again, wanting to make a safe introduction to Thai food, I decided that the quintessentially Thai peanut chicken would probably be the best choice for the main course. Not too spicy and, although peanut sauce is very un-Western, the ingredients in the dish aren't too exotic. Although she had scoffed when I had described it earlier, thinking that peanut butter and chicken should never meet, she really enjoyed it.
However, this choice was incredibly hard for me. Thai Red Curry is my staple at Thai restaurants, it's my gauge by which I can measure their worth. I love it hot and they do make a good one.
But it wasn't actually the curry that I was after. Pattaya Thai has a dish that is so delicious it haunts my dreams: the Soh Basa Filet: Basa filet battered and fried crispy. Topped with a brown sauce composed of Thai sweet basil, garlic, onions, bell peppers, chili and ground pork. It is so amazingly delicious and I wanted it so bad. In all seriousness, I had been lusting after it for weeks. Even now, not hungry at all, I am craving it with such an intensity that the only thing stopping me from heading to Pattaya Thai right this moment is the time. And maybe the price. That's the real reason I didn't get it that night. $10 for a lunch portion, $24 for a dinner portion. Hey, you should know by now that I am one cheap bastard, but still I was so tempted.
It is a good thing, however, that we decided to share a meal rather than order our own because it saved room for a very rare occurrence: desert. The coconut ice-cream, three scoops of homemade coconut ice cream topped with crushed peanuts, had been calling to us throughout the entire meal and the extra girth incurred was well worth it.
Pattaya Thai may be my favorite Thai restaurant around town that I've tried so far, and there's some pretty stiff competition. While other places might do some dishes better, I just know that throughout the entire meal I'll be dreaming about that fish.
9551-1 Baymeadows Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32256