Saturday, January 26, 2013

Le Thai @ 523 Fremont St, Las Vegas

I'm a big fan of the Downtown area, it's gelling into an authentic urban streetscape that makes me want to move to the area just so I can see it realtimes...albeit I like it more at night than in the daylight hours... (less visible decay)... don't hate me...

I wanted to get more involved with Downtown, and when The Downtown Project presented a panel series of inspirational speakers, I decided it was time to climb out of my nested cocoon and head on down.  And to piggyback the event, I wanted to try Le Thai, a much raved Thai restaurant that recently opened on Freemont Street.

  And from the street, the place looks awesome; from the modernness of the corrugated steel facade juxtaposed with the the retro neon signage, it's managed to synthesize old and new Vegas without any gaudy Disney/stripper pole/bordello theme in which the Strip seems to steep itself until a bitter brew.  It's a breath of fresh air, frankly and with other venues like Commonwealth and Velveteen Rabbit bring life to an already transform Freemont Street, it'll making coming Downtown an enjoyable night out.

With the Maitre' D out front, it looked like the interior was super tiny and jam packed, but there's outdoor seating in back with heat lamps, which turned out to be a roomier sitting area.  This would be a great place to sit and drink in the coming months before the heat sets in, not quite sure how they would cool that space...   One wall is covered with a colorful mural, but otherwise, it stays true to an outdoor atmosphere with exposed wood beam frame, rope lights and garden furniture.

Seeing one of my favorite appetizers on the menu, I was excited and anticipated a great evening: Pork Jerky + Sticky Rice + Waterfall Sauce. And when it arrived, it did not disappoint, juicy bits of succulent Pork accompanied with a most amazing Sauce bringing it to a higher level of flavor.  And with the Sticky Rice, its just such a comforting dish I feel like I'm at home...

And as a measuring stick, I always judge a Thai restaurant by it's Pad See Ewe.  I ordered the spice level of two (normally zero) just to gage how Le Thai handles its hotness scale.

When it came to the table, it arrived in a large heaping bowl, steaming, piping, right-out-of-the-wok furnace of noodles, where you know you're gonna sweat halfway through the meal. It's a love/hate relationship, appreciative and ~~~~at the same time..

A spice level two at Le Thai was not quite as I expected; for it had an unsurmountable amount of spice, (as a Thai for 'not too spice' and they might as well pour gasoline down your throat and chuck a match) which would have been fine, but the dish lacked that Soy umami flavor in which Pad See Ewe comes in abundance, the flat broad noodles sucking in that sauce and trapping it it's chewy cells.  To top it off, by adding the searing heat of a thousand suns, it was hard to taste much of the dish. A shame, since I was very impressed with the quality and amount of Beef, as well the Chinese Broccoli- you can tell the ingredients were premium, just the balance was off.  As a test, I had the cold leftovers the next day, and it was the same, lotta heat, little Soy. Somewhat of a disappointment.

However, since I only had two dishes with a fifty/fifty success rating, I vow to come again and order more and reach outside my comfort zone before the final strike of the gavel.  I loved the ambience and the service was impeccable.

Ratings (Out Of Five Stars)
Food:           4
Ambience:   5
Service:        5

Le Thai on Urbanspoon