J. and I have very different schedules. I am a night owl and J. is up at the crack of dawn getting ready for the gym and/or reading on the Web. This makes things interesting when we are together because it means that, except for a few rare occasions, we eat lunch and dinner together, but breakfast places never really see the two of us together.
That isnâ€™t to suggest that I donâ€™t at least try to be there for J. at breakfast time, but my good intentions were not enough to get me out of bed and into the shower in time for at least brunch. Nope, it was the lunch hour by the time I pulled myself out of bed. J. had already done some gym work, downloaded who-knows-what on my computer, and tackled various monsters in various online games.
J. asked me where we were going for lunch when I got out of the shower. I suggested something Asian and gave J. a choice: Chinese or Thai. J. jumped at the chance for Thai and I said that we would try a place in North Scottsdale that I saw in passing when reviewing another restaurant. â€œWhy am I not surprised?â€ J. stated.
Feel. The. Love.
We headed to Shea Boulevard and Frank Lloyd Wright and pulled into a strip mall. We parked and entered Osha Thai. I remember the signage when I went to Blue Adobe Grill right across the parking lot. Upon our entrance, we were immediately told to take a seat anywhere and we selected a booth against the wall. We were handed menus and our server took our drink order. I had a Diet Coke ($1.50) and J. had an Iced Tea ($1.50). J. noticed that we were handed luncheon menus and wanted to look over the dinner menu as well. Our server was more than happy to provide us with the dinner menus and said we could order off of either menu.
As we reviewed the menus, we struggled to make our selections. We both were famished and I wasnâ€™t sure what we should order to kill the hunger pains, but a couple of things stood out. First, we wanted to try the Corn Cakes ($5.95). Then, J. thought the Osha Golden Pockets ($6.25) sounded excellent, so we went with that as well. I was thinking of getting some of the Thom Kha Soup ($9.95). J. chimed in with approval so we went with the large hot pot instead of individual servings.
Our server returned with our drinks and we told her about our choices for appetizers and soup and also ordered entrees. J. had the Spicy Cashew Chicken from the Lunch Menu ($7.15) while I had the Pad Prik Khing from the Dinner Menu ($9.25). We both ordered the brown rice to go with our meals. Our server asked us the inevitable question of how spicy we wanted our food and J. and I both blurted out â€œmediumâ€ although J. said â€œmedium hotâ€ for the Cashew Chicken.
As we waited for our meals, I sat back comfortably in the booth and looked at the charming interior. The place was small, but completely relaxing with plenty of posters from Thailand and lots of Asian touches throughout. Although there were several other couples in the place having lunch, the place was quiet and relaxing. Despite the 100-degree temperature outside, the interior was cool and tranquil.
Our Corn Cakes arrived and the cakes were steaming hot. The golden brown discs were patties of corn meal, corn kernels and other minced vegetables that were deep fried and served with wonderfully cold cucumber chutney. The cakes had a slightly crisp exterior and a warm, soft interior filling. The corn flavor was excellent and the addition of the cucumber chutney had us wondering if we should have ordered a second serving.
The Osha Golden Pockets followed the cakes and they were gorgeous to look at. Four pouches were sitting on a plate awaiting us to dig into them and discover what was inside.
When I grabbed one from the plate, it was searing hot and I was surprised the rice paper pocket was super crisp. I turned it on its side and cut into it with a fork. A billow of steam rose from the broken pocket and revealed a wonderful curry aroma. The filling itself was a mixture of minced chicken, carrots, onions, potatoes and a bit of curry. I drizzled mine with some of the sweet and sour sauce provided and the taste was stellar. This appetizer was perfect and exceptionally creative. We both loved the taste and the hint of curry that made it seem a bit more Indian than Thai, but we didnâ€™t care as the taste was phenomenal.
After clearing our plates from the table, our server brought us the traditional Thai hot pot containing our Thom Kha Soup. The center area had a large flame shooting up from the pot and the soup was simmering around the center ring. The pieces of chicken, mushrooms, and a few kaffir leaves were peeking up from the milky broth. We filled our bowls with the soup and took a taste. The heat, both in spice and temperature, hit us right from the start. The soup was delicious with its overtones of lemon grass, cilantro, chili, galangal, and kaffir. The rich coconut milk made this a very hearty soup. The chicken was in big, thick chunks and the flavor of the soup had permeated the meat. J. and I were thrilled with the soup. It was one of the best Thai soups I have had in the Valley.
We were still working on the soup when our entrees arrived. J.â€™s Spicy Cashew Chicken was a large plate with a sauteed mix of chicken, red bell pepper, carrots, celery, mushrooms, water chestnuts, scallions, and cashews all glistening from the spicy brown chili sauce. A few kaffir leaves were added for taste. J. thought the dish was exceptional because everything was perfectly cooked and there were no downsides to the dish at all. J. also liked the fact that the brown rice was soft and nutty and a refreshing change from white rice, which most Thai restaurants serve. I tried J.â€™s entrÃ©e and thought it was very good. The brilliant colors and spicy taste were top notch.
My Pad Prik Khing was outstanding. The dish was the traditional preparation of beef cooked with green beans in a spicy sauce and topped with crushed peanuts. The beef was sliced and tender. The green beans were tender crisp. I liked the fact that the peanuts were abundant in the dish. There were also kaffir leaves in the dish as well. Like J., I found the brown rice a nice change of pace. If there was any criticism with the dish, it would be with the kaffir leaves. There seem to be a heavy hand with the kaffir and while I like the flavor of kaffir, it can easily dominate a dish in terms of flavor if not handled well.
As far as the spice level was concerned, we were very pleased that medium was quite spicy for our tastes. The kitchen didnâ€™t hold back in making our lips burn a bit from the level of heat.
Although we were very full from our meal, we overheard our server at another table raving about the mangoes being perfect this time of year, so J. couldnâ€™t resist and ordered the Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango ($5.35) while I wanted something a little less elaborate and chose the Thai Custard ($2.95).
My Thai Custard was a simple presentation of a small cup with the custard sitting in the middle. The golden crust gave way to a yellowish interior that was smooth and slightly sweet. This was a very straight-forward presentation that almost seemed boring, but the flavor was excellent. I am a big fan of custard, so this made me quite happy.
J.â€™s Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango was a pretty platter of sticky rice with a cream drizzled across the top and flanked on both sides with slices of bright orange mango. J. thought the dessert was wonderful. I was rather surprised that the rice was barely sweet and almost savory on some level with the sweetness coming almost exclusively from the mangoes. These desserts were a great way to end the meal.
Having over-indulged and making no apologies for it, we asked for the bill. The total was $53.82 which included tax. Certainly this was a big splurge for us for a lunch, but our hunger level was high and we were enticed by so many things on the menu. For the quality and freshness of the food, we considered our meal to be a very good value. Portion sizes were substantial.
The service at Osha Thai was friendly and efficient. We were always asked if we wanted refills right at the time we needed them and our server was more than happy to answer our questions.
After our lunch, we decided to avoid the construction on Shea Boulevard and take the 101 to the 51 and back home. While we drove, we both commented that our lips were still slightly tingling from the spice at Osha Thai. We were content, though. Osha Thai was a bit of a drive from Arcadia, but we had no regrets.
I was also happy I skipped breakfast so I would have plenty of room for our lunch.
Osha Thai CafÃ©
10953 North Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Hours: Monday through Friday â€“ 11 AM to 3 PM and 5 PM to 9 PM; Saturday and Sunday â€“ 4 PM to 9 PM
Alcohol: No service available.
Notes: In the Palo Verde Square mall, directly behind the Blue Adobe Grill.