When it comes to seeking out Thai food in Buffalo, there are plenty of places to choose from. For the most part, I tend to stick to a couple of Thai restaurants that I have become overly familiar with, but a few days ago, I paid a visit to a new place that was not on my radar. I was with a friend of mine on Kenmore Avenue, when we spotted Yummy Thai. From the outside, the place looked very nice, so we decided to stop in for a bite to eat.
It must have been an off night for the restaurant, because we were the only ones dining. That meant that we could sit anywhere we wanted – there are a few different seating options. We chose to sit at the bar, so that we could discuss the food with our server/bartender, Nova. It turned out that Nova was a Karen refugee who had come to Buffalo by way of Michigan. She was fairly new to the city, and we were happy to talk shop (Buffalo) with her. She was chatty, which was great because we were interested in learning more about the restaurant at the same time.
Nova told us that there is another Yummy Thai in North Tonawanda, which has been around a lot longer than the one on Kenmore. She also mentioned that we were really going to like the food because the Thai owner only cooks what he himself eats. She said that he makes everything from scratch and is extremely proud of his dishes. Apparently he has a devote following of Thai food lovers who come in religiously. To us, it sounded like we had come to the right place.
My experience with Thai food is mainly from eating at restaurants in WNY. My dinner partner has taken trips to Thailand, so I was interested to see what his thoughts were regarding the culinary authenticity. After looking at the menu, he opted for the basil fried rice with chicken (spicy fried rice with egg, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, napa, broccoli and basil leaves in spicy chili sauce. He ordered his “hot”, but not “super hot” or “Thai hot”, just to be safe. Nova suggested that I order a seafood dish, due to customer praise. I quite literally ‘chickened out’ and stuck with a dish that I was more familiar with – the sesame chicken (crispy fried chicken in sesame sauce with ginger and garlic, sprinkled with sesame seed and scallion). I was bummed that my wife was not there, because she’s a big fan of Pad Thai, a dish that can be a good litmus test for how to rate a Thai restaurant.
As we waited for our food to arrive, we continued to chat with Nova, while looking around the place. We both liked the atmosphere. Apparently the owner brought back all of the decorations back from Thailand. There’s a genuine authentic vibe, except for the music, which we figured out was a bit like listening to Thai elevator music (it sounded like Americanized pop). But at least there was an attempt to cover all bases when it came to providing a true Thai experience, from the decor to the food.
Yes, the food. We started with an order of fried vegetarian spring rolls. They were excellent (and bountiful), served with a nice light dipping sauce. After devouring the rolls, we moved on to the main courses. My buddy could not stop raving about his basil fried rice. He loved the flavors, the heat, and the presentation. I was also very happy with my sesame chicken, except for the fact that there was little heat. Upon ordering, I was not aware that there was a “super hot”, which was a notch down from “Thai hot”. Next time, I’ll try the “super hot”, and if that’s not enough, I’ll go for the top of the heat scale. With a little more heat, I believe that I’ve found my new sesame chicken go-to in Buffalo.
Yummy Thai has large portions, tasty food, a fun atmosphere, and sake and Thai beers. We both mentioned that we will return sooner rather than later, to sample some more of the offerings. I’m happy to find another great restaurant on Kenmore Avenue, to add to my growing list of places to eat. There’s always more room for delicious Thai food in the city.