The first thing I saw at Zen Yai Thai was this sign.
It got me pretty jazzed. I got a good little charge out of that. Yeah, it’s a hot hit, I’ll be puttin in my mix like a number one record. So much promise! It’s like, how could they possibly live up to the hype! They totally couldn’t, that’s how. Or, how not? Anyway, the interior of Zen Yai is really nice.
Steve had this restaurant.com gift certificate thing, so we ordered more food than we otherwise might. We started of with Tom Yum soup, because, duh, you should know by now, as well as an iced coffee for Steve and a Thai iced tea for me.
The drinks were fine, pretty average. The soup was my second favorite thing we ate.
There was a good balance of sour and spicy, and nice big chunks of veggies and chicken.
The best thing we got was the barbeque.
We got the pork spare ribs and they were super triple double dog delicious. They were sweet and succulent, not flabby but with the rich flavor of pork fat throughout. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why and get annoyed when people go ape shit over bacon and all that, but when you eat something like these ribs, it’s like, oh yeah, now I remember. Pretty amazing stuff. They come with a superfluous sweet and sour dipping sauce (they already have some sort of sweet glaze on them), a refreshing vinegary carrot salad and some perfectly cooked sticky rice, which is adorably wrapped up in a foil packet. I would love to try their other barbeque items to see if they are equally good. I know that they are equally (ridiculously) cheap at seven bucks.
The rest of the stuff we got, unfortunately, was pretty blah. Green veggie curry with tofu
was bland and a little grainy. It was nice of them to make it for us with fresh tofu, as they usually make it with fried tofu. Although the soy stuff was silky and fresh, it couldn’t save the dish. The spicy squid also fell flat
To start off, it wasn’t very spicy. That wasn’t the real problem though, the real problem was the mushiness of the squid. I like my squid to have a little tooth to it, a snap when you bite into it. This squid seemed to just disintegrate into paste after the first chew. Kinda gross. It’s weird, because the combination of bamboo shoots, squid and chiles sounds like it would hit right in my sweet spot, but this just tasted kind of off. What a disappointment.
It’s a shame that we ordered the wrong stuff here. If we’d just stuck to the soup and the barbeque, I think we would have been pleased as punch. Like I mentioned before, the restaurant has a very nice, clean and modern dining space, and our waitress was pleasant and did a great job. The prices are better than reasonable and at the peak lunch hour on a Saturday we had the place entirely to ourselves. It’s possible that I’ll eat Zen Yai Thai again, since they deliver, but it’s pretty unlikely as long as Lers Ros is still open. Damn you, Lers Ros! You have ruined me for all other Thai restaurants.
Zen Yai Thai
771 Ellis St