REDLANDS >> Redlands Thai House was my first experience with Thai food when I moved here from North Texas in 1997.
Also hard to believe, at that time Thai House was one of the two or three Thai restaurants in Redlands. Nowadays, it seems like there is one on every corner.
Having said that, Thai House is doing something right as I went there last Friday for lunch at 1pm and there was a 20 minute wait.
What I observed during the wait was a strength that many restaurants lack these days – structured management. Everyone who works at Thai House clearly has a function and a purpose, making guests feel at ease during a dining experience.
I was impressed with the extensive menu and grateful to my friendly waiter who guided me to the restaurant’s most popular lunch starter, the traditional red curry in coconut milk with bamboo shoots ($ 8.35 ).
The meal was accompanied by a choice of soup or salad, fried or steamed rice, fried wonton, and a fried egg roll.
I also ordered a summer roll special starter ($ 8.95) and for dessert I chose another seasonal special, mango with sticky rice ($ 7.95).
There are several ways to customize orders at Thai House, including spiciness levels or the ability to make any meal vegetarian by substituting veggies or tofu where meat would otherwise be served.
Upgrades are also possible. For example, shrimp can be substituted for meat or added to a main course, or you can choose a particularly delicious and nutritious variety of purple colored brown rice rather than steamed or fried options.
Of all the items I tried at Thai House, the most surprisingly delicious was the fried wonton and egg roll that came with my red curry dish.
Fried foods are commonplace but there is an art in this form of cooking, a delight if you will. Clearly using fresh oil and quality ingredients, the kitchen had basically made peasant food that just melted in my mouth. I made a mental note to try more fried appetizers out there in the future.
Sauces from Thai House are also particularly successful because they are made on site. The generous serving of summer rolls came with two sauces that each significantly complimented all of the fresh ingredients carefully placed inside the delicate rice paper wrappers. The flavors of fresh cilantro, crispy bamboo shoots and savory tofu were also enhanced by a peanut sauce and a sweet sauce made from oil and vinegar.
My only regret was that I didn’t order my spicier curry. The velvety flavor of the starter would have lingered in my mouth longer if it had had more spice. It would also have made the coconut-sweet freshness of the Mango Sticky Rice Dessert more useful than just decadent.
Nonetheless the meal was impeccable and I can’t wait to go back and try other dishes and one of their very affordable martinis from the extensive bar menu. I actually did a double take when I saw that some of the non-happy hour drink prices were way below $ 10 each. Haven’t seen a $ 6 specialty martini on a menu since, well, 1997.
Tabetha Wittenmyer is a freelance journalist with a BA in Creative Communication and International Culinary Writing from the Johnston Center at the University of Redlands. She has observed and written about food and restaurants in the United States and Europe for over 15 years. She can be contacted at [email protected]
MAISON THA RESTAURANT
1824 W. Redlands Blvd., Redlands, CA 92373
5 out of 5 plates, price $ – $$
Cleanliness: 5 plates. Clean restaurant inside and out.
Service: 5 plates. The staff at Thai House love a gastronomic institution and it shows in their professionalism.
Quality of the dishes: 5 plates. Exceptional and authentic Thai cuisine.
Preparation / Presentation: 5 plates. Generous portions of beautiful and fresh Thai cuisine.
Price: 5 plates. Food and drinks at very reasonable prices, as well as happy hour and lunch specials for added value.