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Grand Avenue Thai Cuisine

Posted by shellyak on 2006.09.11 at 14:39
Current Mood: blahblah
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merle_/merle_food and I met for lunch today. We had attempted to go to Los Cantaros, but they were insanely loud and busy at 12:45pm on a Monday. In under a minute I gave up and Merle suggested Thai.

I had eaten at the Grand Avenue Thai place once before, but had not been stunned. I thought the food was overpriced, the service was mediocre, and the flavors were pallid. That was dinner, two years ago. I hadn't been back since, despite it being within walking distance of home.

Today's meal was off the lunch menu, which means the pricing structure was more reasonable. There are ten choices each for $6.95 which come with the house salad and rice. Most dishes are your choice of chicken or beef or tofu, or shrimp for an extra charge of $2. The options seem fairly standard. Red curry, yellow curry, stir fried vegetables, some other stuff that sounds like a cross between those. They also offer an appetizer course (which is served with the meal) for $2.

The house salad is shredded cabbage with thinned peanut sauce. It's not at all enticing. There's nothing wrong with the ingredients, so I ate it, but I think they would be better off skipping it since they cannot afford lettuce.

I opted for the yellow curry (no bell peppers) and Merle got the red curry (it had bell peppers). I got chicken and was pleasantly surprised by the curry flavor which permeated the chicken. The potatoes in my curry were undercooked. The curry sauce was thin but flavorful and not as over-rich as some places.

Merle said that "cooked in the curry" taste was absent from the beef curry. I tasted the red curry and the bell pepper flavor was not as overpowering as some times, but it wasn't a great flavor and did not go well with the beef. The sauce was somewhat grainy and tasted vaguely of peanut sauce.

I had opted for the satay appetizer and the beef was nicely grilled, but very chewy. The peanut sauce was in an extremely shallow bowl which made dipping difficult. Merle ate all the nasty cucumbers which accompanied the satay and politely abstained from the peanut sauce so I could re-dip my skewer. (I suppose I looked rather pathetic.) The skewers are extremely tiny and certainly not worth a dollar each. Given that experience, I would recommend against paying for additional options.

Drinks start at $1.95 for Thai iced tea. Herbal teas cost more than their beers.

Overall, the food was decent. There isn't anything wrong with the place. They have average service, decent food, the prices are a only a bit high (though they would be ludicrous at dinner when everything costs extra or if you were ordering beverages). We spent $10 each with tax and 15% tip.

There are worse choices, but unless you live or work nearby, there are inevitably going to be better choices elsewhere. Zero parking available on the street because of the Round Table Pizza (with weekday lunch buffet) is next door. There are no lots nearby either. There is also an (untried) Ethiopian restaurant and a Korean restaurant (which still looks like an opium den from a James Bond movie).

I will be going back to Champa Gardens before I return here, even though I have to drive to Champa Gardens.

Grand Avenue Thai Cuisine
384 Grand Ave
open M-Su, 11a-3p & 5p-10p (no lunch on Sunday)


lexica510 at 2006-09-12 19:08 (UTC) (Link)
It's been a long time since I last ate there, but my memory of Grand Avenue Thai was that the food was at the "way too sweet" end of the spectrum. Bleah.
shellyak at 2006-09-12 19:55 (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't sweet this time, or maybe I ordered things which were the exception. It wasn't sweet compared with say, Shan Dong.

Grand Avenue Thai was actually better this time than the previous time from two years ago... but it's still just food. The company was good, but that wasn't enough to make the overall experience enticing. Not like you can hand a food person a peanut butter sandwich for a meeting, but it was about like that.
Merle [Food]
merle_food at 2006-09-13 23:32 (UTC) (Link)
I suppose the beef might have been cooked in the curry, but if so, they chose a very tough cut of meat and didn't let it simmer for the hours that would be required for it to soften. Really it was more like a curry with some separately boiled beef added. The beef was well trimmed, but was not a great cut -- it seemed more like standard stirfry beef, just cut thicker and cooked a lot less.

The curry was just spicy enough. It had that sort of creeping spiciness, where the first few bites seemed bereft of heat, but after a few peppers and more of the sauce, it got towards the hot end.

An.. interesting place. Not great. But compared with downtown's options of Take It Easy (not real Thai), Thai Corner (not many Thai flavours), Manyda (everything prepared in two minutes), or the now defunct Sabuy Sabuy Jr (feh), it seemed okay. Compared with any random Thai place in Berkeley, though, it would not be worth visiting.

The Korean place is Jong Ga (my latest visit), which usually scores in the top five for Oakland Korean places (Koryo and Sam Won always taking the first two spots). I may have to try that Ethiopian place later.. it has been a long time since I have had Ethiopian food.
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