Very Thai’s (非常泰) three locations (in Sogo Tianmu, Xinyi District’s NEO19 and on Fuxing North Road (復興北路)) are sleek almost to the point of sterile. With a predominantly black and luminous green color scheme, the walls are pasted over with pages taken from Pop and other arty fashion magazines, while the wait staff is bedecked in sharp black suits and crisp shirts.
Despite the restaurant’s painfully hip interior, its menu features excellent Thai classics. Spicy dishes are sweat-inducingly piquant, curries are creamy and rich, fish is tender, and meats are juicy. Very Thai also distinguishes itself with a drinks menu offering 30 beers imported from 12 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, the US and, of course, Thailand.
The restaurant’s appetizer menu features the basic fried golden shrimp cakes (NT$250), pork or chicken satay (NT$220) and fried egg rolls (NT$160). I opted for the Very Thai Combo (NT$380), with fried shrimp cakes, egg rolls and chicken wrapped in orchid leaf. The latter is available as a stand-alone dish for NT$280 and was wonderful. The meat was succulent and glazed in a savory-sweet sauce. The other two items, however, were lackluster. The shrimp cakes had very little flavor, even after being dipped in the accompanying sweet-and-sour sauce. The egg rolls were slightly spicy, but also forgettable.
My main course, the grilled boneless short ribs with Thai dip (NT$320), made up for the appetizer plate. Each slice of beef, served simply with a spicy dipping sauce, was cooked to flavorsome, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
On a separate visit, my companion and I ordered a Jim Thompson shrimp salad (NT$300), Thai-style raw shrimp (NT$300), green curry chicken in coconut sauce (NT$280) and steamed sea bass in lemon sauce (NT$480).
The Jim Thompson salad (named after the American founder of the Thai Silk Company) was the blandest dish. Sliced cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber and steamed prawns were tossed and marinated in a tart dressing that lacked aroma. But the Thai-style raw shrimp certainly atoned for the salad. Each shellfish was butterflied, with a heap of minced garlic, chili peppers and various spices scooped on top. The garnish left us sweating even having scraped half of it off.
The sea bass’ light yet zippy lemon sauce provided a welcome contrast
to the fish. Fortunately, the coconut milk in our mellow, creamy green
curry, filled with sauteed chicken
strips and plenty of Thai basil, soothed our tongues.
Very Thai’s signature dessert is its homemade ice cream (NT$120). The large coconut flavored scoop we ordered (mango and durian are also available) was well complemented with slices of fruit hidden inside. The “ruby fruit” (small balls of plump and firm pomegranate-flavored jelly) in coconut milk with crushed ice (NT$90) was
also excellent. I had Very Thai’s
signature mojito (NT$170) with my meal, but I should have saved the
very sweet (and only slightly citrusy)
cocktail for dessert.
Address: 2F, 22 Songren Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路22號2樓)
Telephone: (02) 8789-6200 On the Net: www.verythai.com.tw
Open: 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm, closes at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays
Average meal: NT$500 to NT$700 plus 10 percent service charge
Details: Chinese and English menu. Check Very Thai’s Web site for information on the chain’s other branches
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