Review: Thai Taste

Thai tasteWest Siders, please let me know if I’m incorrect in this (and I know you will), but I stand by this statement:

The West Side doesn’t have many good, independent restaurants.

There. I said it.

And in talking with a bunch of West Siders last night, they agree.  We struggled to come up with really good restaurants (and they’ve all lived there for years).  Sure, you have standbys like Sebastian’s, Price Hill Chili and Maury’s Tiny Cove. You have some pretty good places, like Vitor’s and Primavista. But there’s very little “ethnic” food, and the trend is more greasy spoon than innovative (or even exotic) cuisine.  “The only restaurant anyone thinks of over here is Price Hill Chili.  For a nice meal, everyone just drives to the East Side,” one said.  “Even our Applebee’s stinks.”  Ouch.  When I lived there, I remember being so frustrated by the fact that I had to drive out of the West Side to get anything that wasn’t a double decker or chili– that is, until Thai Taste came in.

Thai Taste specializes in Thai food, of course, but also has a sushi bar and a limited Chinese and Vietnamese menu. Their sushi is good– that I can recall– but their standouts are their Thai dishes. They have the standards (pad thai, pad see ew, thai spicy noodles, etc.) as well as Thai desserts. The atmosphere isn’t anything special– it’s a hole-in-the-wall with pan-Asian decor– but it really doesn’t matter since the food is very good.

Thai tasteI happened to be over on the West Side last night, and realized that I really ought to revisit Thai Taste. On my way over, I called and ordered two dishes: pad see ew and pad thai, and was told it would be ready in 15 minutes. It took me about five minutes to get there, and was ready about five minutes after I arrived. Ten minutes isn’t bad for carryout.

For $25, I got two dishes– pad see ew with shrimp and pad thai with chicken, both at a level 4 spiciness (their scale goes from 1-10). The pad see ew was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. The noodles were a little sticky (probably not from the 15 minute drive home) and the vegetables were mostly broccoli; I prefer the Chinese-style broccoli to the big, thick chunks of broccoli in the dish, but overall, the flavor was good. I think I could probably go up to a 5 on their spiciness scale.

The pad thai, however, is fantastic. It’s a little on the sweet side, which is counteracted by the spice (again, I could have gone up to a 5), and the noodles are the perfect texture and consistency. The chicken is all white meat and sliced thinly. It’s quite a bit more moist than most pad thai I’ve had (I’ll have to add a little bit more sauce when I make my own– I like that consistency). It’s one of my favorite pad thais in town.

Portion sizes are huge– two dishes easily fed two people with plenty of leftovers. They also offer tofu, pork and beef as the protein in their noodle dishes for an extra charge. Thai Taste has been around for about five years and seems to do a steady business– I hope other restaurant owners can see the success Thai Taste has had and choose to open in the same area.  Maybe Indian?  Residents, what would you like to see?

Thai Taste on Urbanspoon

  • Krystan

    I lived on the west side for a year before calling it quits. One of the things I hated the most was the food options. You are right; Sebastian’s was the best independent place they have. We cooked at home a lot, out of necessity.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      And what’s sad is Sebastian’s isn’t even that great compared to other gyros in town– I think they survive because they’ve been around forever and they’re one of the few good options over there.

      • Krystan

        It’s not the most mind-blowing gyro I’ve ever had, but it is very good – especially when you never know if a gyro you are ordering from a restaurant comes off a spit or from a pre-packaged ziploc bag. Where’s the best gyro in the city? I’m always up for trying a new place.

        • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

          I’m a huge fan of Areti’s at Findlay Market.  Taz used to be my favorite, but they closed a few months ago. They were supposed to switch to a food truck but I haven’t seen that happen yet.

          • Krystan

            I do remember eating one of their gyros a while ago and fighting the urge to go back and buy two more, even though I was stuffed. Let us know if Taz ever comes back; I will definitely give it a try!

        • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

          Aretis’s in Findlay Market or Chicago Gyros in Clifton are my top two. I’ve had several others but none compare in my opinion.

    • Michael

      That’s part of being a westsider.  Going out for a great steak means heading to one of any number of fabulous butcher shops, buying a steak, and grilling it at home.

  • Kasmira

    I’ve eaten at Baba Schwarma (mediterranean) a few times and really like the Vegetarian Platter:  dolmas, falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, and pita!

    • Kasmira

      BTW – Baba Shwarma is in Cheviot/Bridgetown.

      • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

        I am so adding it to the list!

  • Nikki Mayhew

    Julie – good little review. As I mentioned via FB and Twitter, I LOVE Thai Namtip and hear they’re related. I am loyal to them over Thai Taste. However, one place I think shouldn’t be missed in terms of ethnic food on the Westside is Baba’s Shawarma. Huge portions, and quite inexpensive. And the best Falafel I’ve had in town. Falafel is hard to come by in CIncinnati, much less on the westside! :)

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      Two votes for Baba Shwarma.  Definitely on the list.

  • Beth A

    My ONLY issue with Thai Taste is that I will request a level 11 and still have to ask for more spices.  I love spicy and we have told them many times that we really mean an 11 and really want it spicy, to no avail!  But, man, their food is tasty!

    • Classicgrrl

      Next time, ask for 30. I’m serious.

      • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

        Ow.

  • Michael

    Thai Taste is really good.  Next time you’re there, try the Beef Salad (Thai Style Cold dish), but be careful about how hot you ask for it.  The cold temperature it is served at really kicks up the heat.

    Other noteable West Side places to eat:  Dena’s Diner (Breakfast and Lunch), Golden Dragon Chinese (on Cheviot, not the buffet on Colerain), Ron’s Roost, Noce’s Pizza, and Barnesburg Tavern & Grill just off the top of my head.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I LOVE beef salad– I will definitely try it.  And thanks for the other suggestions as well.  I had wondered if there was any decent Chinese left.  Grand Oriental wasn’t fantastic, but apparently it was shut out by Panda Express across the street, which is sad.

  • http://www.smallgirladventures.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    Goodness, I haven’t been there in a while, but I can still say that I love Thai Taste. westside has very limited options aside from chili places and chains, especially in Delhi. I would really just like to see a nice local restaurant using fresh ingredients, a new rustic Italian place, Indian, maybe a new Chinese place (I miss Grand China), something with healthier fare!  

    -Westsider all my life and can’t wait to get out!

  • A Non-Native West Sider

    Thai Taste is decent, it’s in our weeknight carryout repertoire. What the West Side really needs in terms of dining is diversity and modern cuisine. There is precious little of either to be found on this side of town
    (ditto for it’s populous)  . There are so many chili / double decker establishments over here, and while there are places that do the aforementioned better (Thelma’s, J&J) than others (Price Hill Chili), 
    One can only eat so much of it. Ditto for Pizza or wings. The sit down restaurants on this side of town tend to be older establishments that cater to an elderly crowd (whether “elderly” in actual age or in tastes) and serve the same tired, mediocre food that they have served for 35+ years. Maury’s, Nick & Tom’s, Ron’s Roost, Kenning’s Circle K, et al all fit that description. Then there are the chain restaurants that increasingly choke the West Side, and which are universally awful. I would love to see an Indian restaurant open on the West Side (does Clifton really need another one?), or a real bistro serving modern food, or a modern pan-asian restaurant like Suzy Wongs come to this part of town. However the question a restaurateur must ask themselves when considering opening an establishment in the West Side is “will the West Siders come?” The people on this side of town are notoriously provincial, close minded, miserly, and set in their ways. I hate to generalize, but so often it’s the truth, particularly with those West Siders over the age of 50. So at the end of the day it’s a massive gamble for a restaurateur to invest their (and/or their investors) money on the West Side. Then there’s the reluctance of those living on the Eastside or even downtown to navigate the West Side in order to get to a restaurant, even if it’s highly recommended, so any establishment on this side of town has to almost completely rely on West Siders for support, and history says that’s a dicey proposition.

    Just food for thought (pun intended)

    • Anoneee

      That type of westsider is known as a “meatball”.

  • Nancyjacob

    Ok – I’m one of those 50+ west siders, not a native, but have lived here for 30 years.  When we go out we almost exclusively go to locally owned restaurants, avoiding the chains at all costs.  I didn’t see a mention of Nick’s in Cleves or Nick and Tom’s on Bridgetown, both do a good job.  I would like to see some diversity of choices though.  You can’t beat the Werkhaus for pizza though and Sebastians have the best gyros as far as I’m concerned, passing up the others discussed below. Vitor’s has been a great addition to this side of town and we love Primavista for special occasions.  We do go to Clifton a bit and had a great meal (our first) at VanZandts on Galbraith Rd last weekend (#5 hamburger by Cinti Magazine)

  • Westwood2

    Julie,
    Really like your blog — I check it every day or two, hoping for a “scoop” on new restaurants, etc.

    But I have a pet peeve that your review of Thai Taste reminded me of: the habit of people who live east of I-75 to refer to everything west of I-75 as the “West Side”, capitalized as if it were a place name. It’s not. There are actual neighborhods over there, just like they have on the other side of Cincinnati: Westwood, Price Hill, Cheviot, Green Township, Cleves, Covedale, Bridgetown, etc.

    I went back through a few of your previous reviews, and here are some restaurants and place names mentioned:

    Brew River Gastropub / Maribelle’s — East End (with Maribelle’s moving to Oakley).

    Taste of Belgium — corner of 12th and Vine in Over-the-Rhine

    Mayberry — Over-the-Rhine

    Mai Thai — Florence

    Pretty good about mentioning the actual neighborhood. No “North Side,” “South Side” or “East Side” in sight!

    It would be nice if reviews/stories having to do with the “West Side” would actually take an extra 30 seconds to lookup the actual neighborhood involved. Might even increase the “streed cred” with people who actually live there.

    Sorry for the rant. The Enquirer is especially bad about this, too.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      No, I understand. I’m actually a native West Sider (from Delhi, actually), though I haven’t lived on the West Side in several years.  To be honest, Thai Taste is in an area that’s a little difficult to identify. Is that Westwood? Is that Covedale?  Have we crossed over into Green Township?  And then the whole thing that Western Hills isn’t a neighborhood at all… Some locations are just more well-defined: if I were talking about Corner BLOC, I’d indicate it was in Price Hill or if I were talking about Maury’s, it’s in Cheviot.  

      Anyway, I get called on the carpet about Clifton too (Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview) and I promise I’ll try to be better in my next review of something west of I-75.  Promise!  And feel free to call me on it if I don’t live up to my promise.

  • Qltdiva1

    You’re right about few and far between when it comes to restaurants on the west side but I do like Thai Taste.  They have cleaned it up inside so it’s a more professional atmosphere and the chicken pad thai is my favorite.  I usually have half for dinner and half for lunch the next day (it reheats very well and I don’t normally eat leftovers!). 

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I actually like cold pad thai. Weird, huh? The portion is so huge, it’s easy to have leftovers.

  • Brian B.

    I’m a West Sider all my life as well, and routinely head to the “East Side” for better dining options.  Another great little place is J. Gumbo’s on Cheviot Road in White Oak.  I know there’s one downtown, but it’s one of the few places with outdoor seating on the West Side.  Their food is good, fresh, and as spicy as you want it!  Of course, to really take advantage of the outdoor dining, you may want to wait until the Spring…

  • Amy

    Julie, thanks for reviewing Thai Taste, our best of the few real ethnic restaurants over here.  As an East-sider now living in Delhi, I’m appalled by the lack of choices.  Is Delhi Pike really only good for banks and fast food restaurants???  Thai Taste is always busy, so clearly there is a market for quality ethnic food.  To increase quality options in the area, one only need to try to get into Panera or Chipotle at lunch.  They’re slammed!  Why?  Convenience and relative quality/freshness.  An independent with similar themes could do well, though I’m still praying for an Indian place to open up!

  • Cincinnati32male

    You should try Black Sheep on North Bend