Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thai Spice - Westlake

701 Capital of Texas Highway South
West Lake Hills, Texas 78746
Tel: (512) 330-0203

My tour of Austin’s Thai restaurants continued last week as I knocked another one off my list, Thai Spice. I went there for lunch with my girlfriend Sarah (with an h). Its kind of out of the way for most people, being out on Capital of Texas Highway, but Sarah works out that direction, so we thought we’d give it a try. She’d eaten there a few times and convinced me I needed to try it. She said their sushi was good. At first I cringed. Not only was there sushi at a Thai restaurant, but it was a sushi buffet at a Thai restaurant. I had a flashback to the last horrific experience I had with sushi on a buffet, I was worshiping the porcelain god for days. I vowed to never again eat sushi off a buffet. It’s just not natural. But, Sarah is quite the sushi aficionado and swore up and down that the sushi was pretty good, so I decided to give it a try.

When I first got there, around 11:30, I noticed the dreaded buffet in the back of the restaurant. The place was also dead; there were maybe 5 other people in the place. I remember thinking “this can’t be good.” We sat down at the table and pursued the menu. The lunch menu had about a dozen options ranging from Thai to Chinese. What really stood out was the price, $8.95 for the lunch! I remember thinking it was highway robbery for pad thai. Who charges that much for chicken and noodles?? Then Sarah explained to me that the dreaded buffet was included. I was going to have to pay for the privilege of eating buffet sushi. Yum.

I ordered Pad Thai (of course) and Sarah got some cashew stir fry called Princess Favorite. We then proceeded to the buffet. There were several different stations, including a salad bar, the dreaded sushi, and two kinds of soup. I got a little of everything. The salad greens were fresh, as were the veggie toppings. They even had pineapple. Sweet! I did make the mistake of getting what I assumed was the “house dressing,” a concoction of a thin amber sauce with what looked to be bits of chilis and some chopped up greens. The dressing turned out to be just a little too strong and cilantro flavored for my pallet. I’m sure a true cilantro aficionado would find it much more pleasing. For the soup, I got a bowl of the Tom Kha. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This Tom Kha was spicier and more complex than the Thai Passion version and didn’t have the pungent aftertaste. The buffet sushi was by far the biggest surprise. It wasn’t awful at all! In fact, I rather liked it. It wasn’t the greatest sushi I’ve ever had, but for buffet sushi it receives a solid A.

The entrees were just as good as the buffet. The pad thai was rich and oily, much better than the Madam Mam’s pad thai and about even with the Thai Passion “pud” thai. I didn’t care for Sarah’s Princess Favorite. It had the odd flavor of a Thai restaurant trying too hard to make a Chinese dish. Sarah said she’s gotten it several times and likes it a lot. I’ll let her stick to that, and I’ll keep the Pad Thai.

Mariah - 8