Though the owners have plied their trade at the same humble location in a small strip of stores on Blanco Road, the city’s lovers of Thai food tend to return to Thai Dee time and again.
While the exterior might not seem promising, the interior is inviting. A few years ago, the owner bought enough Asian-style wood paneling to cover all the walls, which added an exotic, cozy feeling to the dining room.
Thai Dee’s other treasure is the unfailing courtesy and attention that comes from all of the staff. Even youngsters, over the years, have welcomed guests with warm smiles, as well as swift hands for bringing water and drinks, and clearing away dishes.
When you go, check out the menu board to the right of the door once you are inside. You don’t want to miss such things as stir-fried clams or soft-shell crabs and the like.
Whether it is lunch or dinner, you’ll want to order some of the crunchy little Thai egg rolls to dip into the sweet-hot sauce that comes along. Seared calamari, sliced into large rounds, brings a briny ocean scent to the table. No thick breading — just another bit of sauce, this one with a mound of chopped peanuts — accompanies the chewy seafood. Another sweet-hot dish we sampled recently was a soup with a clear, slightly viscous broth that was sweet, but balanced with red pepper and improved with chunks of tofu and bamboo shoots.
Move into cool-hot territory by ordering one of the Thai salads. We ordered beef salad at lunch on a day when the temperatures outside were mounting up to the high 90s. Slices of cucumber, shredded carrot and fresh lettuce, topped with a small mountain of seared beef, were a perfect summer lunch. We might add that this is a good dieter’s special. Even so, the fresh flavors and hearty beef make it a treat.
The curries on the lunch menu are creamy and spicy, with all that richness from coconut milk to soothe the heat. Many of the lunch specials, with rice and egg rolls, come with a choice of meat. When taking your order for most of the hot dishes, the server will usually ask how much heat you want. Order “Thai hot,” if you don’t mind tears running down your face.
A mound of perfectly steamed white rice accompanied a friend’s order of ginger fish. It was briskly fried to crusty brown, making for plenty of surface area to soak up the gingery, peppery sauce.
Finally, have ice cream for dessert, whether it’s the coconut or green tea. The sticky rice at lunch a few days ago was so sticky, though, that we could have used a scissors to cut through the glue-like texture. Even so, the melted coconut ice cream, the heat of the rice, even the ultra-springy texture, combined to make a perfect treat to be shared by two at the meal’s end.
If you’ve driven past Thai Dee over the years but never stopped, we’d suggest you pull in one day. You will almost certainly return.
5307 Blanco Road
Lunch, dinner: Mon.—Sat.