If Only You Could “Tie One On” at the – Thai House

Susan says…thai-house-curry-dish

When Thai House moved into a Winfield location, I was excited to add another restaurant to our rotation in anemic Teays Valley.  You’d think with all the dual-incomes, single incomes that don’t need a dual to help out, and those trying to keep up with the Jones’, there would be a lot more to choose from in this suburb of both Charleston and Huntington.  Not so in reality, though. 

It took me a while to get to the Thai House, mostly because I wanted to coordinate a group dinner with Misty.  When you have 4 children and 4 jobs between the two couples, synchronization can be a bit tricky.  We did meet there once, only to discover management suffered an unfortunate kitchen mishap and there would be no dinner service that evening.

We enjoyed one meal at the former location in Dunbar, noting tasty food, interesting service, and a small dining room packed with customers.  (Ron will tell you why I used “interesting”.)

The Winfield site is larger, but still devoid of any intimacy.  Linen tablecloths and artfully folded linen napkins caught my eye immediately.  Hope loved the fancy napkins asking if that design is in the napkin-folding book we had recently purchased.  It is.  Hope also noticed all the chairs were mismatched.  That is a girl after my own critical heart.  I am indeed a proud mom.

The menus included what turned out to be accurate photographic representations of the selections.  Unfortunately, for Thai novices, not much of a description of the dishes though.  When we left, I picked up a take-out menu (thumbnails are at the end of this post) and realized the combination of the two menus together provided a good idea of what each dish entails.  Our server was very knowledgeable about the food and gave me a mini-lesson about the curries.  She claims to have tried all the offerings – kudos to her for that. 

I learned that the difference between the red curry, called Gang Dang, and the green curry, called Gang Kiew Whan, is that dried chiles are used in red curry while green curry contains fresh chiles.  I chose the red curry with shrimp.  Each dish can be prepared with chicken, beef, pork or shrimp or squid – seafood costing an extra $1.   We also ordered the appetizer sampler to maximize the flavors we would experience on this visit.

thai-house-appetizer-platter

My impression of Thai appetizers: not nearly as exciting as Thai entrees.  I felt the flavors were bland and flat.  The homemade sweet chile sauce accompanying the nibbles was tasty but lacking the heat I expected.  Every item was okay except the fried tofu.  It had absolutely no taste whatsoever.  The Bangkok spring roll is a crispy thin covering encasing a filling of (I am guessing here) celery, cabbage, and cellophane noodles.  Bangkok shrimp is the same crispy coating around a shrimp.  Chicken cakes are ground chicken combined with a few other ingredients to form a cake and then fried.  Again, nothing to write home about.  Crab rangoons (is this even a Thai dish? according to wikipedia, they have recently become commonplace in Thai restaurants) were creamy, slightly tangy and the best thing on the platter for me.  I did not taste the fried wonton because Hannah (my 10-year old) grabbed it before I could.   Hannah tried almost everything on the plate and I was very happy to see her sample some new things.

My entree was presented by the man I assumed to be the Chef and proprietor.  He seemed very proud to place the dish before the expectant diner.  He did so with every table around us.  I thought it was a great personal touch. 

Deathmatch: Thai House vs. Taste of Asia II –  Battle Red Curry 

Red Curry is priced at $9.95 with a $1 upcharge for seafood.  The dish is described as “delicious red curry…cooked in coconut milk, bell pepper, bamboo shoots and basil leaves” in the takeout menu.  As you can see from the photo, it is presented in a nice blue and white spherical dish which greatly impressed Hope.  And me.  (I buy a lot of plates I don’t need solely because they have a pretty pattern and/or shape.)  At first glance, the food is garnished nicely with a pile of chili pepper seeds right on top of the blushed red liquid.  I ordered mine “medium” afraid of how hot the “hot” would be and certain “Thai hot” would be more than I could handle.  The aroma gave hints of what was to come when I tasted it: coconut, chiles, seafood, basil.

thai-house-curry-shrimp

 Also from the photo you can see one shrimp on top of the heap.  Note the vegetables: green beans, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, bamboo shoots, and peas.  There were eight shrimp in all, medium in size and cooked properly.  I loved the quantity, variety and doneness of the veggies.  The curry sauce was thickened and the heat built as I ate my way through the bowl.  By the end of it, my lips were tingling from the chilis.  It was a delicious meal.

toa-red-curry

Now, let’s take a look at the red curry at Taste of Asia II.  I am a BIG fan of TOA (see my review) and I enjoy their Thai food.  However, after making a direct comparison within the span of a week, I must say the Thai House kicks TOAs butt on red curry. 

TOAs red curry is not as thick or as complex in flavor.  The server did not ask me how spicy I wanted my curry and I neglected to specify so I have myself to blame for the lack of heat.  The metal vessel my food arrived in was okay but not as attractive as the china ball at Thai House. The single cilantro sprig is the garnish and I got chicken instead of shrimp because the upcharge for seafood at TOA is $3 on top of the $10.95 curry pricetag.  A girl’s gotta have a budget.

toa-red-curry-detail

Now take a look at the next photo.  I dipped my spoon into the bowl repeatedly to fish out all the veggies.  I placed all the veg I could find on my plate.  My haul: 2 dices of carrot and 1 green pea besides some bamboo shoots.  That’s it.  I find TOAs Chinese food full of good-quality vegetables, but the 3 bits I found in my curry was a severe disappointment.  

All in all, I enjoyed the thinly sliced tender chicken and the curry sauce.  Compared to Thai House, however… Thai House wins the deathmatch on all components except atmosphere.  Oh, and they have no beer at Thai House.  While it’s not a must-have for me, I do like the option. 

The service throughout our meal was prompt and friendly, as well as informative.  Hannah ended up knocking Hope’s ice water into her lap so Hope did quite a bit of pouting afterward.  (see photo below) Only the heart-shaped rice could pull her out of her funk.  Our server handled the mishap gracefully and without making Hope any more embarrassed than she already was.  Going out with children is always an adventure, isn’t it?

Even though the appetizers were lackluster in my opinion, they aren’t the reason for coming to this establishment.  Perhaps the appetizers are only on the menu because Americans expect appetizers.  Who knows.  I also tried Ron’s duck dish which was every bit as yummy as my curry.  The coffehouse/bakery portion of the establishemnt is not yet open, but is slated to be open soon.

I recommend the flavorful and artfully crafted food at the Thai House.  With better atmosphere and a liquor license they’d get the top rating from me.  As it is right now: FOUR FORKS.

Hope says…thai-house-rice

(Warning: this review is from an 8-year old picky eater’s perspective.)

The  place looked very old fashioned on the inside.  And the plates looked they could have done better shopping .  And I didn’t like that it had a tv with the MENU on it and MUSIC VIDEOS in Chinese and Thai.

Their soy sauce tasted homemade because it didn’t taste like the kind that we have at home called KIKOMAN and HANNAH loved it.  I got RICE. Plain RICE .  And the rice was shapped like a heart .  And I don’t know why.  I think it was because of valentines day.  And the WATER PICTURE was not – I repeat NOT – my fault so if you see me don’t blame it on me.  (Editor’s note: she means the picture of her pouting after the water got dumped in her lap at the hand of her sister.)

thai-house-hope

The RICE was fine. Not perfect, it was FINE.  I didn’t taste anything else we ordered.  I know from what you would hear it’s not natural for me not to taste anything.  Why I DIDN’T eat anything else is that nothing seemed good EXCEPT that YUMMY YUMMY carrot flower. And the carrot flower was GORGEOUS but it was irresistably YUMMILISHOUS.  I just had to eat it! 

And I present them with THREE FORKS.

thai-house-carrot-flower 

Ron Says…

02.21.09

After much debate about what to eat Saturday Evening, we decided to go out.  We had been meaning to come here since we heard that this place relocated from Dunbar to Winfield.     This is the second time we’ve made the trek from Teays Valley to Winfield to eat here, the first time they were closed for some weird reason.  But this time we were in luck, as they were open, and I was looking forward to it.

You see one thing I remember about the Dunbar trip,  was that the couple that runs the place reminded me of an old married couple (Archie and Edith).  I couldn’t understand what they we’re saying but it just seemed to me like they were constantly jarring back and forth, so I really wanted to watch that again just for my own personal pleasure.

But unfortunately it was pretty calm tonight, that’s probably because I never noticed the female part of the equation, so I don’t know if they both were in the building.    (See I was going to make some chauvanistic joke about how things will run smoothly if women aren’t around, but I refrained, lol, sort of).

{sorry couldn’t resist}

So, we get there and are promptly seated and waited on.  The one thing that I do not like is that this place doesn’t serve my idea of liquid vitamins, so I just chose a water, and began perusing the menu.

Deciding to get something I don’t normally get, I went with the duck, I forget the exact name.  (Editor’s note: pineapple duck at $11.95)   Hope just orders rice, Susan being on her low carb kick, doesn’t eat her rice – (Does anyone see where we could have saved money here?)  Hannah did go out on a limb and order something besides just rice, I think this decision induced a stroke on my part as I forgot what it was she actually ordered.  (Editor’s note: Hannah did not order anything besides rice, she just sampled off the appetizer plate.  And Hope’s rice was only a buck. And the kids ate almost all my leftover rice, too.)

Waiting on the food, looking around, the place still has that newly remodeled look.  This is in the location of a former diner that I had eaten at on a few occasions – I forget the name, and before I bash it I will say the food was pretty good.  But the diner had that dingy look, this place is bright, with a few flat screen TV’s showing Asian television.  What is being shown on these TV’s is a great topic for another blog post, but it was like bad karoake meets Ninja Warrior.

Our food arrives, and instead of waiting, I just dig in.  (Editor’s note: the food was much more attractive before Ron tore into it.)

thai-house-pineapple-duck

veeery goood….

All joking aside, the Duck was very tender, the meal was spicy, plenty of excess sauce to be soaked up by my rice.  (that’s how I like to eat my asian, just mix it all up and chow down)

The service was good, and if I’d had recieved my Archie and Edith routine that I had before in Dunbar, I’d have given it that all important Five Fork Rating,  but because I’ve only had one exceptional meal at this new location, I’m going to give it Four Forks, with the promise to come back and review again.

FOUR FORKS.thai-house-menu-2thai-house-menu-1

Thai House
3369 Winfield Road
Winfield, WV  25213
304-586-3160
Thai House Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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10 responses to “If Only You Could “Tie One On” at the – Thai House

  1. We’ve hit the Thai House 3 times now and have not been disappointed. Although the 1st time we went shortly after they opened, they were out of one of the steak options. I had had highly disappointed husband on my hands.

  2. I’ve only eaten there once, though I live right down the street. However, I liked it. Susan, I’m glad you discovered the take-out menu that has the descriptions on it. I’ll need that next time. When we went before, neither of us had a clue what the dishes were.

    So the bakery still isn’t open? When I was there before we were told it wouldn’t be too long before it would open. That was the same weekend you tried to go and they had their kitchen disaster. So it’s been a while.

    I don’t understand why there is a TV in the dining room anyway, and it’s in a weird place too. When I was there it was on Food Network. I drive by there just about everyday and I see the TV shining brightly every time. Sometimes it’s showing sports too.

  3. As an Asian, this is one place I can claim to be my favorite Asian restaurant close to Charleston. My wife and I used to go to TH once every two weeks when it was still in Dunbar. Now, because of the distance, we only get to go there once a month, sometimes longer.

    Here are some things I can recommend. For soup, try Tom Yum and Tom Kha. For the main dish, while all the curry dishes are good, our favorite is Panaeng Groong Yai. If you like steak, Tiger Tear is really good. Something that not a lot of people order, but is really good is their Grouper (breaded, deep fried fillet). It comes with a sweet and sour sauce, but if you want it to taste different, (here’s my tip) order Thai Pepper Basil – Grouper. As for noodles, we’ve been to a lot of Thai restaurants, and TH’s Pad Thai is one of the best ones we’ve tasted.

    As for their coffee shop/bakery, I have some inside info that I can’t really reveal. He’s right though that it will open really soon — maybe as early as this month! Note that his espresso machine is already there and the other corner of the restaurant where the other big LCD TV, has been slightly renovated with two tall tables, and more comfortable seating.

    As for TOA, after finding out that they’ve been constantly getting poor marks at BtKC, my wife and I decided to boycott them. We haven’t been there for more than a year now.

    Great review! Thanks!

  4. demosthenes.or.locke

    This was a good review. I used to go to the thai house when it was in Dunbar. The old man was grumpy but the food was good. I’ve found the thai stuff at taste of asia south charleston to be hit and miss.

  5. LAL-

    The Thai programming on the tv really disturbed the girls for some reason. I thought it was kind of cool. You know, to put you in the mood for the food. I wouldn’t have liked it as much if it had been sports, but Ron would have loved it.

    Reggie-

    Thanks for the recommendations – The Thai Pepper Basil Grouper sounds great to me. But why are you teasing us like that with inside information??? We want you to spill it!

    Demo-

    On this visit, Mr. Owner was very personable when we paid our bill and chatted with us for a few minutes about the kids. He was so serious when he deilvered the entrees to us…I was a bit intimidated. But at the cashier’s desk, I told him the food was delicious and he was quite friendly.

  6. mmm…Gang Kiew Whan. I just got so hungry reading this review and looking at the pictures. Too bad it’s in Winfield and I can’t get there quickly.

    Just a side note, Tofu is also available as an alternative to the meat choices.

  7. Like Winfield is soooooooooo freakin’ far! I guess from the ‘Ville it is. Get your sorry arse here sometime and I might join you!

  8. I was also perplexed when I looked at the menu since I’m not an expect in Thai cuisine, but we must have had the same waitress. I asked her to explain most of the menu. Strange that they wouldn’t put a small description on the menu.
    To me the food was OK. My Thai loving wife thought it was very good (but “not as good as that place over in Charlottesville”).

    Please, bring Hope back. Her perspective is greatly appreciated!

    • Having to ask the server to explain several dishes on the menu was very annoying for me, so I can just imagine how annoying it is for the server, though she was very cordial and knowledgable. I still felt like I was bugging too much.

  9. Good food with odd service. They aren’t big on you bringing under fives either even though it was a weekend lunch.

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