My recent dinner at Thai Erawan left me disappointed with just one thing. Unfortunately, it was the food. I had seen some good reviews for this place on urbanspoon.com and was in the area on a recent Saturday evening so decided to give them a try. The interior is lovely, very soothing, spacious and elegant. We were greeted promplty and seated and our waitress was very attentive the whole evening. The service, decor, and even presentation of the food was all marvelous, but the food itself fell short of what I expected.
We started with two appetizers. The first was the Steamed Dumplings. The filling itself was somewhat indiscernable, looking sort of like sausage, though it was indeed tasty. According to the menu it was composed of shrimp, ground pork, crabmeat, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. It was served with a soy sauce that was mild and pleasant and not overly salty. This was the best dish of the evening.
The second appetizer was the Erawan Crispy Rolls, shimp, crabmeat, ground port, and vegetables wrapped with rice paper and fried. They were served with a house sweet & sour sauce. The menu claims that they were sprinkled with ground peanuts, but in reality there was not a single piece of peanut to be seen or tasted. The filling was somewhat bland and not very special. It, too, looked more like sausage, a mish-mash of stuff. It was tasty, just not too special. They were deep fried and they seeme just a bit overly greasy as if the oil had not been hot enough or something. They were mediocre at best.
I ordered the Tom Yum Shrimp soup, billed as "the famous spicy and sour clear soup with shrimp seasoned with galanga, lemon grass, lime juice, mushrooms, and scallions. I was disappointed on three accounts. First, the citrus was over-powering, and it was not the citrus of lemon grass. I felt like lemon juice had been haphazardly added to the dish--it overpowered what should have been delicate tastes and fragrances. Second, it was not very spicy at all, quite mild. The Tom Yum soup I've had everywhere else is always somewhat spicy, this was not at all. And finally, the shrimp--there were three of them and they were all way overcooked to the point of being somewhat rubbery. Fortunately the portion was rather small for the price.
I ordered a side salad, it was bit of iceberg lettuce and some carrot and tomato, doused with a very sweet and peanutty dressing. It was more sweet than I like in a dressing, but still flavorful. However, I thought there was too much of it. But all in all, it was not a bad salad and I cleaned it up, leaving some of the excess dressing behind.
For my main course I ordered the Volcano Shrimp. The menu says that this contains, broiled jumbo shrimp topped wiht chili sauce and steamed mixed vegetables. I ordered it with medium heat and that's what I got--I liked the heat. The shrimp themselves however were somewhat mangled and way overcook, way, way overcooked. I could barely cut them with my knife, and they were even a bit stringy. The shrimp looked like they'd maybe been butterflied but whatever, they had been cooked into oblivion and sent to restaurant hell. The vegetables under the chili sauce were good and flavorful, though not so plentiful, but there was a lot of chili sauce. I was not impressed with this dish at all, outside of the beautiful plating.
For his main dish, my friend Tommy had the Chicken Hot Pepper. Strips of chicken were said to be sauteed with chili paste, bell pepper, onion, and basil leaves. The dish looked appealing and the sauce was very good, I tried a bit of it. Same with the vegetables. But Tommy's complaint was about the chicken itself--it was very bland. It seemed like boiled chicken had been thrown in as an afterthought--it had none of the flavor of the sauce or vegetables. It was not a bad dish because everthing except the chicken had a lot of flavor. But when the title of the dish is "Chicken Hot Pepper" you'd expect the chicke to be the star and have more flavor--it wasn't and it didn't.
Overall, I was diappointed in Thai Erawan's food. Again, atmosphere, hospitality, service, ambience and plating were all very good. Only the food did not match up to the expectation. Not bad food, but there is better food to be had in the area, so I can't really call this "good eats," just "barely OK eats."