Some friends of ours invited us to this Thai place up in Northern-ish Ogden for a birthday awhile back. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it at the time, but I was quite intrigued when I heard about a Thai place in Ogden that only served Thai food, instead of some Chinese-Thai hybrid to appease the masses. It was definitely worth the trip.
I guess I can thank Rod and Joy for introducing me to Thai food during our vacation to Portland, Oregon last summer. And what an introduction it was! I also must thank Pok Pok for making such terrific food for me to be introduced to. The chef of Pok Pok, Andy Ricker, was the 2011 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest award winner. What better introduction could I have asked for, shy of going to Thailand? Something interesting that Ricker said during an interview that I read in the Oregonian was that one of his main inspirations was another chef (who’s name escapes me now) who was also doing Northern Thai Food but out of a strip mall. He talked about how the he enjoys places that offer hyper-focused cuisine, and many times they can be found in places you’d least expect, like strip malls. Normally, strip mall restaurants are synonymous with chains and franchises or various money grubbing institutions. Just look at Layton or West Jordan. After reading this interview, I realized that there are probably a few diamonds in the rough. But enough about restaurants in far away lands.
Upon arriving at Aroy-D (located in a small strip small), we were a little depressed to see that we were the only customers. That usually isn’t a good sign. We were promptly seated and my wife was treated to a television playing Thai music videos, complete with Thai sing-along subtitles. We saw a small advertisement under the glass tabletop that read something about a $25 Monday Tuesday special that offered a pretty good variety of the menu, including an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert. We opted for an additional appetizer, instead of a dessert, but that wasn’t allowed. And looking back now, I’m glad.
We know we wanted Pad Thai but from there we more or less let our waitress do our ordering for us.
We started out with some egg rolls. I’m sick of egg rolls. I don’t even know if they are Thai (they probably are), but for some reason we ordered them. They were regretfully, forgettable. Maybe I just don’t know enough to appreciate them. But they seemed average.
One nice thing about being the only people in the restaurant is, hopefully, the speed with which you get your food. The staff was quick and well paced. As soon as we had finished our appetizer, our main dishes arrived, along with jasmine rice.
We both shared the Red Curry and Pad Thai.
The Red Curry was hot. At restaurants where I’m given the option of how spicy I want my main entrée, I’ve started to order pretty hot. Too many times have I tasted what I though was going to be medium and it ended up being too mild for my taste. And after seeing the options of mild, medium, hot, and “native hot” on Aroy-D’s menu, I decided that hot would be a good choice. It was my limit. Any spicier and it wouldn’t have been enjoyable. However, when eating the curry, sweating from my bald spots, and feeling it burn all the way down, it became quite enjoyable, almost thrilling, like playing with fire, testing the limits of the flame more and more.
The curry itself was slightly thinner than I imagined it would be, but the flavor was not lacking in the least. The thinness of the curry lent itself to more leftovers later.
The Pad Thai was amazingly addictive. I had to stop myself from eating all of it, especially since technically it was what my wife ordered and my curry was a bit too painful for her. It tasted slightly of nuts with interplay of textures between the meaty chunks of chicken, tender, slippery noodles, and crunchy bean spouts. The lime squirt on top was the icing on the Pad Thai. We ordered that medium and it was perfect.
If you’ve been reading my other material, you’ll know that I’m sick of the dessert menu at many restaurants. It seems like Utah is stuck in an ice cream and chocolate cake filled rut. So when I see something on the menu that is even slightly unique, ethnic, traditional, original, whatever, I order it. The mango sticky rice was just what I was looking for. Deceptively simple, it consisted of a small mound of sticky rice and half of nicely ripe diced mango, all of it drenched in sweet coconut milk.
The final touch of this dish being toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top that actually added a lot of texture to an otherwise mono-texture dish. Maybe they were meant to be garnish. The fragrant sticky rice, nutty toasted sesame, and coconut milk that was just thick enough, was a wonderful combination. It was lovely to suck on a spoonful, pressing it between my tongue and palate, filling my mouth flood with perfumed milk…that was a little food-porn-ish. Sorry about that.
Some other random things that I really enjoyed about Aroy-D: They don’t charge you for extra rice if you want some, the owner opened the door for me and gave me 10% off the next time we went in (we ordered take-out), they have a strategically placed barrier right next to the door so that there isn’t a table in the joint that feels like people are watching you eat while they wait by the door.
If you ever find yourself heading up to Logan or on your way back from Idaho, Aroy-D is right off the freeway coming back into town. To me it’s even worth the drive itself without an excuse. It’s run by a white guy who married a Thai girl who I’ve been told used to own a restaurant in Thailand. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them. Their daughter and her friends are the wait staff.
We like to people watch out the windows while dining. “Do you think those people are going to get suckered out of their money at the payday loan place or rent-to-own? Or maybe they just need their hair cut”