Food

Worth the Wait

Taste of Thai by Wipa

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

When a friend first mentioned Taste of Thai by Wipa to me, I was surprised I hadn’t even heard of it before. When I finally figured out where it was—tucked into the back side of a strip mall near Fred Meyer in Burlington—I was no longer surprised. I was, however, grateful to have finally discovered it. A cheerfully decorated space with about 40 seats, it can fill up fast on a weekend but is worth the wait.

Wipa’s bio notes that she studied cooking at the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok, then worked in Macau and Seattle as a chef before setting up her own place in Burlington. A charming hostess who frequently checks on her guests, she seems devoted to food and hospitality. Her staff is friendly and enthusiastic, making up for the occasional error with goodwill.

On our first few visits we arrived during happy hour, which includes discounts on appetizers, salads and beverages. We had to try the Tohd Mun Goong ($8), since I have always had a weakness for fish and shrimp cake. The cakes were nicely fried, served with pieces of fresh pineapple and a sweet dipping sauce. Lemongrass chicken wings ($8) are breaded and fried super-crispy, accompanied by slivers of fried lemongrass.

One of my favorite dishes here so far is the Thai beef salad, a deal at $8 but a steal during happy hour. Tender beef, Thai eggplant, and loads of fresh herbs drenched in a pungent, sweet-salty dressing, it’s bright and delicious. I’m used to this dish being insanely spicy but this version was completely mild. On another visit we tried the Larb (ground meat salad with herbs and roasted rice powder, $8) and, daringly, ordered it four stars, but it ended up only mildly lip-tingling.

Pad Kee Mao, also called drunken noodles, lived up to my expectations as a delightful pile of slithery wide rice noodles with generous amounts of chicken and vegetables. The Pad Thai struck us as a little bland and overly sweet, but the presentation was fabulous, with a fancy net of cooked egg draped over the noodles. Khow Soi curry noodles are an indulgent delight, the rich coconut broth cut by pickled greens and sprouts. All noodle dishes are $14 with chicken, pork or tofu, $17 with shrimp or beef.

The fried rice dish we had on our first visit was so-so, but my friends who recently visited Thailand judged the Pa-Nang curry ($14 with chicken) as one of the best they’d ever had.

I don’t usually have room for dessert after inhaling Thai food, but the coconut ginger crème brulee with pineapple candy, gold leaf and toasted coconut ($9) our server talked us into was an elegant presentation. Coconut ice cream and mango with sweet rice were both recommended to us but we haven’t managed them yet.

Thai beer is available, and you may find yourself ordering more bottles than you’d planned just to get more bowls of the addictive sweet and salty peanuts that come alongside. However, don’t neglect the varied list of nonalcoholic beverages. Besides the ubiquitous Thai iced tea, there’s also Thai masala chai ($4), served hot with milk and sweetener on the side, or my favorite so far, the lemongrass tea ($3), which includes fragrant pandan leaf. As with everything else here, you can’t really go wrong.

For more details, go to http://www.tasteofthaibywipa.com

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