Spice Asian Bistro

29 11 2008

rollThere are a lot of lame oriental restaurants in town. You know what I’m talking about – you’ve eaten at them. Spice Asian Bistro is not one of those. I’ve eaten there twice and been happy both times. For the most part, the menu is comprised of Thai dishes. There is also a comprehensive sushi menu as well as a few Chinese dishes as well. However, I went for the Thai food.

To be clear, I am not one of those newspaper food critics that goes in to an establishment with three other people who order and share numerous appetizers, entrees, and desserts…and again on a second or even third visit. On the other hand, I’m just a regular joe who can afford to eat out on a not-so-frequent basis. So, my wife and I order two entrees, and maybe an appetizer as well. However, those two entrees should be emblematic of the restaurant as a whole. If the food I’ve ordered is made well and tastes great, I can be fairly confident to expect the rest of the food to be just as satisfying.

And that’s exactly what I have found at Spice. This is the second restaurant opened by Mon Shirley in San Antonio. The first is Mon’s Thai Bistro on Broadway. My understanding is taht the food is the same, but the decor is different. Spice’s interior design is minimalistic, but with an upscale and modern feel.

I’m a sucker for Spring Rolls at any oriental restaurant. There were two extra long rolls with a tasty fish sauce and cold crisp lettuce. This spring roll, like most others, is filled with chicken, cabbage, and glass noodles. However, the filling was compact and seemed to be pressed together. This is great because is does not fall apart once dipped in the sauce. Missing was the chili sauce normally found on the tables – we had to ask for it.

My wife and I split two entrees. The Devil’s Chicken, as described by the menu, is stir fried with Asian herbs (whatever that is), coconut milk and cabbage. The taste was very complex, accented mainly by the sweet coconut milk, the pungent basil, and the spicy chili. The cabbage and the green pepper were firm and not limp, and the accompanying rice was perfectly cooked.

The second dish was the Gang Karee, which has onions, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes simmered in a yellow curry. I had this dish on my first visit and remember it being tastier. It seemed a little bland this time around, for a curry. The potatoes were a little firm and lacked taste. The bowl was a little short on onion and tomato, and the curry was not as bright as I remember it from the first time. Nevertheless, it was still tasty.

For dessert, we ordered the fried bananas and coconut ice cream. Frustratingly, they were out of bananas. C’mon. Bananas! Cheap…ubiquitous. We settled for the sticky rice and ice cream (not really). Both were great. I could always go for more sweet sticky rice. The service, both times, was great. The waitstaff really seemed to care. Most curries and pad thai dishes are about $11. Specialties are about $14. I’m not sure about the sushi pricing, but its out of my range for the amount of food I normally need to eat to get full. I ordered both dishes at a heat of two chilis (out of 5). It was just fine for me. I can take quite a bit of heat and the two chilis provided and excellent complement to the flavor.

I would certainly recommend this place. If you go, let me know about the sushi or anything else you might try.

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