Saturday, July 30, 2011

Food Review: Thaijindesu, Williamsburg, VA

I had the pleasure of dining with a couple of friends last night at Thaijindesu, a Thai and Japanese restaurant that has replaced the now defunct Thai Pot. While it was not my first time visiting the restaurant, my experience was so exquisite that felt it was necessary to write a formal review. I am a big foodie, having eaten at a majority of the restaurants in Williamsburg and finding a number to be great, but most purely mediocre.

The first time I went to Thaijindesu, I was just looking for a takeout menu. It was the first week they were open, so they did not have menus yet for takeout.  The owner of the establishment, Ken, introduced himself to me and was very friendly and outgoing.  I could tell that his interest was serving customers, not just running a restaurant. His greeting made me feel immediately welcome and I was excited about my return visit. My second visit was when I had a brief business lunch a couple of weeks later.  I ordered the Chicken Cashew from the Thai menu and was very impressed. I left with my hunger fully satisfied and my wallet barely lacking.

Last night was the first occasion that I had been in the restaurant at night.  I felt like the ambiance was more appealing in the evening with the lights low and no sunlight coming into the restaurant.  While the establishment is rather small and the tables are close together, everyone inside seemed comfortable. The decor is up to date with clean walls and a new bar, I felt like I could have spent more time there than I did and be perfectly comfortable. My visit to the restroom was pleasant as well. Despite the collection of some cleaning tools in the hallway to the restroom, that area of the restaurant was also nice.  The restroom seemed to have been well thought out with unique fixtures and elaborate decoration.

Aside from the owner, who wasn't present, everyone else was very accommodating and polite.  Our service was top notch with our server going above and beyond to be sure that we had everything that we needed.  We sat at the bar as we wanted to try a few sushi rolls and were impressed with the outgoing nature of the sushi chef as we engaged with him about the sushi menu.  He was polite and funny and gave us plenty of information about the choices of sushi that we were considering. The only hiccup was the delay in the delivery of the takeout order that we placed.  I couldn't tell if they forgot about it or if they were just waiting for us to finish so it would still be hot. Either way, it only added about five minutes to our stay.

The menu was expansive. The owner, as told to me by a friend, is a culinary master, having studied both Thai and Japanese cuisine. One side of the menu focused on the Thai choices and the other focused on Japanese. I was in the mood for Thai, so I largely ignored the Japanese side of the menu. The Thai menu, however was impressive. Overall, I felt like there was a vary wide selection to choose from, but there were not too many choices. The presentation on the menu was also very attractive; all of the pictures were in vibrant color, printed with clear descriptions on a large, laminated piece of paper. The sushi menu came separate and was about half the size, but was of the same quality and depth of choice.

What was most impressive about our visit was the meal. We were immediately served glasses of water and made drink choices from the bar.  The full bar was impressive and included a wide selection of unique beers to choose from. I ordered a Sapporo that ended up going beautifully with my food. For our dinners, we started by sharing a sushi combo platter.  While I tend to prefer specialty sushi rolls, we wanted to try out their most basic selection. We ordered three rolls, a spicy crunchy salmon roll, a tuna and avocado roll and a crunchy yellow tail roll. The yellow tail was by far the very best, a unanimous agreement, but all three rolls were impressive. While we were waiting on our food, the sushi chef presented us with a complimentary cucumber roll with imitation crab meat inside. It sat in a bed of vinegar sauce that was to die for. I didn't ask him what it was called, but it looked and tasted amazing.

For my entree, I was looking for something spicy, so I chose the Wild Siamese Chicken. The plate came with a healthy portion of chicken, fresh string bean, holy basil,bamboo shoots and pepper corn stir fry in a red chili paste. It was accompanied by a bowl of white rice that became necessary to cool off my mouth and to soak up the chili paste in the bottom of the plate. While the dish was not too hot, it was infused with a ton of flavor. I would recommend this dish to anyone who is not too sensitive to spicy foods. I had the choice of chicken, beef or pork, but I chose chicken as it is always a safe bet.  I look forward to ordering the same thing again in the future with pork.

The prices as displayed on the menu were very reasonable, but when the dish came and I saw the portion, I was more than happy with the price. I felt like I got a tremendous value for both the sushi combo, priced at $15 as well as my entree which was $12. I was happy to leave a healthy tip as the service was great and the rest of the experience was to be modeled after. My entire check after tip was just under $42 (I picked up the bill for the entire sushi dish).  While I don't make it a habit of spending that much on a dinner, for a special treat, I was pleased with the price that I paid.

Despite just a couple of small infractions, I would say my dinner experience was perfect. I give Thaijindesu five stars for all areas of the establishment and would recommend that anyone go there. There is a wide enough selection to please any palette and I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find anything less than a superb experience.

For a look at the menu, visit the website at http://www.thaijindesu.us. The site only lists the Newport News location, but there is a Yorktown location in addition to Williamsburg. The Williamsburg location can be found in New Town at 5203 Center Street.

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