Beyond the Strip, Las Vegas doesn’t have much that every other major city doesn’t also have. Nearly everything is a chain, which is nice in terms of reliability but crappy in terms of unique worth. On the one hand, I do appreciate the fact that when I’m craving Sedona Tortilla Soup or a buttermilk spice muffin, regardless of whether I’m in San Diego or Vegas or Some Other Major City, there’s a CPK or a Mimi’s nearby and I can satisfy my palate.
On the other hand, my insatiable curiosity and demand for attributing unique identites to geographical locations get singularly bored by chains remarkably quickly.
To make my point, and make it quickly: I love finding (or, more appropriately passively, being introduced to) places like the Thai Room.
Having eaten at some super fabulous (and accordingly pricey) Thai restaurants back in SD, I’m now something of a Thai food snob and won’t tolerate anything sub-par for this cuisine. I didn’t realize this until I wound up at King & I with my parents some months back, sulkily poking around "food" on my plate, "food" which I refused to acknowledge as edible.
I’ll be honest: Thai Room is deceptively fantastic, with heavy emphasis on "deceptively." The menu is less than impressive, in both its appearance (old and "updated" by way of marker scribblings) and its offerings. My overall love for Thai food stems from the ever-prolific presence of tofu and vegetarian options; the Thai Room menu doesn’t mention tofu once, and everything is, by default, chicken or beef or seafood.
My girlfriend had heartily recommended the place, though, and as she’s one of the pickiest eaters I know, that counted for a lot. So I waited until our server (who is probably also the owner, or one of them) came to take our order, then inquired about substituting tofu in any of the dishes. He brightly assured me that they could make anything with tofu, so I got a mild yellow curry with potatoes and bamboo shoots and tofu, and Heather got pad see-ew with chicken.
The (free!) appetizers there are carrot slivers served with a peanut paste that is to die for, and I shamelessly asked if I could *order* another helping, but our server just kind of laughed and said it was no problem, then promptly brought us a second (free!) plate. So, you know. Yum. Lots of yum.
And the curry was fabulous and the tofu was perfect and the bamboo shoots were addictive, and I sampled the pad see-ew and never let it be said that they don’t know how to cook them some good noodle dishes.
It’s not the fanciest of restaurants (actually, it’s not fancy at all and sort of borders on kitschy, or at least as kitschy as a Thai place can get) but the service and food are excellent. According to Heather, they’ll make just about anything and when she and her boyfriend took her boyfriend’s family there, the family ordered *everything* off-menu. Which is pretty damn awesome.
Bottom line: Local Vegas Thai-food fans need to keep these people in business while I’m not in town. Else I shall throw you all dirty looks upon hearing of their closure.
Extra bottom line: See if you can get them to start serving sticky rice with mango. They supposedly have the sticky rice, but no mango, but let’s face it: it’s not the same without the mango. So, done. You have your orders. Go!