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The Journal Gazette

  • Pork Pad Wun Sen at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Egg rolls at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Basil Eggplant with shrimp at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Pot stickers at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Beef noodle soup at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Thai chicken cashew at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Yum Thai Sampler at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Beef laarb at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Clay pot prawns and scallops at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

  • Chicken pad Thai at Yum Thai in Georgetown Square.

Sunday, December 17, 2017 1:00 am

Georgetown Thai eatery able to spice it up

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

Yum Thai

*1/2

Out of a possible five

$$

It was a bit of a red flag during my first visit to Yum Thai when I asked my server what the best things on the menu were.

Her choices were the egg rolls and crab rangoon. That didn't scream Thai food to me. She then said the pad Thai was good, which didn't make me feel any better since pad Thai is the most generic Thai dish there is.

The pad Thai was good, yes, but it was not exciting or unique – it never is – and didn't make me want to run back to this new eatery in Georgetown Square (not to be confused with Yummy Thai farther west on East State Boulevard).

The best way to sum up my visits to Yum Thai were that they were pretty confusing.

My favorite dish was the Guew Teow (noodle soup) that the menu said was similar to Vietnamese pho. Not only was it similar, it was basically pho with no Thai spin whatsoever. The beef broth was rich and nicely seasoned, it had tender meatballs and thinly sliced steak and plenty of sprouts.

But it wasn't Thai. And it did not include the raw fresh herb accompaniments that are key to completing pho. Had I ordered it at a Vietnamese restaurant, I would have not considered it great. But given how lackluster the Thai food was at Yum Thai, it proved to be the best option.

There were two Thai offerings that I might go back for, the Pad Wun Sen and the Basil Egg Plant.

The latter was highlighted by big cubes of the name ingredient that were charred a bit to have added texture and flavor and were super creamy inside. I had mine with shrimp that were perfectly cooked. The basil carried the sauce, which also had a lot of crunchy onion petals and red pepper in it. All in all, it was a fine dish.

I had the Pad Wun Sen with pork and though its sauce was a tad sweet, the transparent glass noodles were just right, it had a nice amount of egg scrambled in it and its red and green peppers were fresh.

The same glass noodles failed in the Goong Ob Mor Din (clay pot prawns). The noodles in this mix of scallops and shrimp baked in a pot were so overcooked that they were basically mush. The scallops – there were only two – were also mushy and kind of gross. It was also topped with a sprig of pale celery top with thin stems and leaves that most of us throw away or save for the stock pot.

Yum Thai got its spice right in all of my dishes. My Thai Cashew Chicken, which I ordered “Thai hot,” lit me up and would have been a nice choice had it not been lacking cashews.

The highly recommended egg rolls in my Yum Thai Sampler were not worthy of the praise the server gave them. The filling of chicken, carrots, onions, cabbage and glass noodles was bland. They were crispy, but really their only flavor came from the sweet dipping sauce.

After trying them, I didn't trust that sever enough to even try the rangoon.

The best item in that sampler was the Tod Mun Gai (spicy chicken patty). This patty was formed with ground chicken, kaffir lime leaves, green beans and chili paste and then dredged and fried until crisp. It was very spicy, but its interior was moist and flavorful.

The other parts of the sampler – shrimp wraps, chicken satay, fried pork ribs and crispy chicken wings – were not even worth describing.

The pot stickers were worth describing because they were so poor. For starters, they were not even pot stickers because they were deep fried little chicken dumplings (pot “stickers” are pan-fried/steamed because they stick to the pot to brown on one side). But what made them so bad was, I suspect, the oil they were fried in because they had an acrid taste that usually comes from old oil.

Though the pad Thai was nicely assembled with plenty of beef and a lot of crushed peanuts on the side to add as I liked, it had no egg, which was a major letdown. The menu said it was supposed to have egg, but this was not a one-time thing. A dinner companion ordered chicken pad Thai during a different visit and, again, no egg. That chicken version was much better than the beef, too, because the meat in my beef pad Thai was dry and tough.

It wasn't the worst beef, however.

The worst beef – and dish, for that matter – I had at Yum Thai was one of my favorite Thai dishes, laarb salad. I asked which version I should have – chicken was also offered – and, again, my server's strong suggestion was a wrong suggestion.

This salad did not have minced beef; it was made with ground beef, which is not too uncommon. But this hamburger was of very poor quality. The only way I can describe it is as Thai Hamburger Helper. It was too salty and had a terrible aftertaste. Most of the vegetables with it were cut into big, decorative shapes that were more for garnish and were a chore to cut down into bite-sized pieces. It only had red onion, garlic and a little fresh herbs actually cooked with the meat.

Aside from the poor suggestions, the service was uneven with long waits for food when it was not busy at all.

There is not much of a decor in this former carry-out pizza spot though along the back wall there is a large print of a painting of a sampan riverboat that was cool.

Comfort was the biggest issue. It was cold inside, for starters, and the place needed tablecloths or at least coasters for the glass-topped tables because the beverage glasses created puddles all over them as they sweat. All of the food was served on oversized plates that crowded the table, making things awkward.

Restaurant: Yum Thai

Address: 6420 E. State Blvd.

Phone: 748-0168

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: Thai

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: No

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Yum Thai Sampler ($15.99), pot stickers ($4.99), Pad Thai ($10.99), Pad Wun Sen ($10.99), Basil Egg Plant ($12.99), clay pot prawns ($15.99), Thai Cashew ($11.99), laarb ($11.99)

Rating breakdown: Food: 1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.