Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thai Pepper

Restaurant: Thai Pepper
Address: 631 N 114th St - Inside a strip mall
Website: www.thaipepperomaha.com (currently down)
Genres: thai
Check Constraints: Do not appear to do split checks.
Chain: Possibly. With the website down, it's hard to check.
More Omaha Locations: No.

==Chamelaeon==
Ordered:

  • Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup ($3.50)
  • Red Chicken Curry ($8.25)
    • Red Chicken Curry
    • Cabbage Salad
    • Rice
    • Fried Won-ton
  • Fried Banana ($5.00)
  • Diet Coke ($1.50)
Deciding where to do lunch this week was not a fast process. Many suggestions were floated, but after all this bouncing about we've been doing, our ability to make snap decisions about food has been drastically overworked. Additionally, I have been far too preoccupied building my wall of Diet Mountain Dew bottles. After a prolonged period of silence, we came to the (perhaps) inevitable conclusion that we were hungry for something from the Eastern hemisphere this time. Because it's been a while since I've had my taste buds seared off, I suggested the Thai Pepper.

For a restaurant which has used the questionable interior design choice of inverted paper umbrellas all over the ceiling, the food was good. The service could have possibly been a little better, and the delay from the kitchen was rather remarkable for a restaurant that wasn't all that busy; it took us easily an hour and a half from sitting down to standing up. Granted, we had a three course meal.

Speaking of, on to the meal itself. The curry was delicious, with a good flavor and a decent heat behind it. Thai Pepper, like some other thai places I have been, allows you to customize the heat of your meal on a 1-5 star rating. I went with the 4-star curry, since I've never been here before, and people's ideas of "5 star heat" tend to vary. I broke into a light sweat, but the heat was easy to handle and complemented the taste rather than utterly overwhelmed it. I'm sure it dulled my enjoyment when I tried the other dishes on the table, but when you go in for the high heat, you kind of expect such things. The curry was served with a salad, made of sliced cabbage, carrots, green onions, and sunflower seeds. It came with a peanut vinaigrette, something I've not had before but would certainly eat again. It also came with rice, and something which may not have exactly been a fried triangle of won-ton, but was certainly very close.

The soup was a unique experience. Carrots, squash (I suspect it was zucchini), onions, and tomatoes are not things I usually expect to find in my hot & sour soup, but it was very good nonetheless. The broth had what I consider to be the "standard" flavor, and the addition of the vegetables transformed it into something like a ratatouille. For $3.50, you're better off getting this as a starter than one of the appetizers, as I am sure one of the guys below will tell you.

Generally, I'm a big fan of fried things, but the fried banana did not quite live up to expectations. The breading added almost no flavor, just a crunch and the slightly browned taste that comes with frying. If it had a taste, it was overwhelmed by the (blessedly au naturel banana). Serving something closer to a Bananas Foster would likely have gone over a little better with me.

All in all, it's solid thai food. Their lunch menu differs from their dinner menu largely in just size and cost, and it's my guess they serve their dinners in what I call family-style, with large helpings meant to be split, or eaten by one hungry person.

Next time, I ask if they'll take it up to 6 stars.

==NinjaDebugger==
Ordered:

  • Chicken Pad Thai ($7.75)
  • Ice Cream & Sweet Rice ($5.00)
  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Thai Iced Tea ($3.00)
I was barred from eating both soups and a quarter of the stuff on the menu, as I'm fairly allergic to mushrooms. The appetizers below, though, were both good, but not good enough for the price. The chicken skewers came with a very mild peanut sauce that can't really be described as "there". The deep fried coconut-breaded shrimp wasn't as coconutty as I expected, either, but was still decent. At seven and eight bucks, respectively, though, give them a pass.

The thai iced tea is -well- worth getting, and when I accidentally ordered something just over the top of my heat comfort zone, it made the meal palatable. It's a very strongly brewed tea over ice and sweet cream. They apparently do the same with coffee, and it might even taste better, but the tea was amazing. I could easily have gone through more than one of them.

The ice cream and sweet rice was a decent dessert. A generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and cherries on a bed of warm sweet coconut rice. It was pretty good. Maybe not five dollars good, but judge that one for yourself.

The chicken pad thai was actually pretty good, once I got past the heat. My normal maximum of heat is at BWW's Spicy Garlic sauce, and this was right around there, and this was pretty close to my upper limit. Luckily for me, it wasn't a lingering heat like the damage-over-time rasta pasta in an earlier entry. I could have done without the large chunks of green onion in it, but otherwise, it was pretty good. The noodles were too tender and slippery to eat easily with chopsticks, though, so I had to resort to a fork. The accompanying fried wonton triangle was exactly as bland as it sounds, but the salad, exactly the same as Cham's, was very good. The taste ended up being somewhat reminiscent of a slaw, because of the cabbage and vinegar, and the mixture of that with peanut and sunflower seeds was a really nice finish to the pad thai.

I'm not opposed to going here again, but if we do, I need to remember to get something based on rice, rather than noodles. Also, people who take it up to six stars scare me. Insane, all of them.

==Moogle==
Ordered:

  • Coconut Shrimp appetizer ($8.00)
  • Basil Rice with Chicken ($7.25)
  • Diet Coke ($1.50)
We got five butterflied coconut shrimp with a side dish of sauce. They were good, but there wasn't very much for the price. They had a good crunchy coconut coating, and the sauce went very well with them. To me, the chicken appetizer wasn't that interesting. The peanut sauce was pretty good, but I couldn't really taste the other one. It was also seemed on the expensive side at $7.00 for 5 skewers.

I was a little afraid that the basil rice would have an overpowering basil flavor, but I was pleased to find out that it didn't. It had a good flavor with bits of red and green peppers, tomato, and basil. You also get a good sized portion for your money. I ordered it with Medium spice (two stars), which was a good level for me. It got my nose running a tiny bit, but it wasn't hard to eat. I think my upper limit might be three or four stars, depending on the dish. The side salad was a different sort of salad, but good. The dressing made it a bit sweeter. I could have eaten more of it, but they only give you a handful.

The fried banana was interesting. Warm, soft banana with a crunchy shell and served with ice cream. I have had fried candy bars before, and the breading was a bit much on that. I was afraid that it would get in the way with the banana, but it didn't. In fact, the flavor you get is mostly banana, and the breading just gives it a crunch. I didn't try the rice dessert.

==Mecha==
Ordered:

  • Chicken Satay ($7.00)
  • Chicken Coconut Soup ($4.50)
  • Thai Pasta with Chicken Curry ($9.00)
    • Red Chicken Curry + Noodles
    • Cabbage Salad
    • Rice
    • Fried Won-ton
The Chicken Satay had a yellow curry on it, and came with a peanut sauce (mmmm) and a sort of cool cucumber/something watery dip or dressing. The satay was pretty slender, but tasty. I have to agree that it's not much for 7 bucks. The coconut shrimp was tasty but, again, 8 bucks. I'm a sucker for peanut sauces, though. Mmm. Ahem.

The Chicken Coconut Soup was almost curry soup, and it was fantastic. Hints of lemongrass and curry and a number of vegetables and chicken and really just delicious. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

The pasta with curry was very good. I got it at 2 stars, which was the minimum for that dish (all the curries minimumed at 2.) It wasn't overly hot, as curries are good at having warmth without burning lasting pain, but it was spicy and pleasant. Comparing to ND's dish, it seems that curries are a bit lighter than non-curries straight out. The mini-salad had a lot of good contrasts, and the dressing it came with was delicious. The leaf underneath even made the possibility of wrapping the salad up and eating it like a leaf wrap.

The deserts were more or less as described. The ice cream and sweet rice was very coconuty, and the banana was strong tasty banana, hot too. Not really my thing so much for desert, but not bad. ND's drink was indeed very good. It felt like a sweet coffee drink without the coffee, which I'm very pro.

From an ambiance PoV, it was okay. My largest complaint was that it was surprisingly slow service, and the restaurant really wasn't that busy for that. Also, it's worth noting that they do different costs and portions for dinner, and keep odd hours. Still, it's pleasant and I might consider hitting there for a nice dinner.

1 comment:

balconyfool said...

This place is right across the street from where I work, so I've given it a try several times when I was jonesing for a little Thai. After two two fairly severe disappointments, I definitely won't go back.

It's well worth it to drive the extra ten minutes to either of the Thai Spice locations (108th & Maple / 156th & Dodge). Not only do the flavors pop more spectacularly, but you get those inimitable deep-fried "vegetable balls" with every meal. They're so good, I usually get an extra order as an appetizer. Service is usually a little slwo, but the prices are unbeatable, and the food is fantastic.