Upon entry, you are greeted by the counter on your right, and small tables along the large windows on your left that continue along in an “L” shape past the counter. Although there were restaurant employees at the counter, no one greeted us and we were unsure if we were supposed to order at the counter or if we would be served at our table. We took a table at the bottom of the “L” and waited to find out. It felt a little like sitting in a long, abandoned hallway but we did have privacy. And a friendly server soon came along with a carafe of water for us.
The two-page menu was a very reasonable size for a Thai restaurant (dwarfed by Thai Express and Angel’s Thai Café, and larger than Rak Thai Bistro).
There were plenty of choices for appetizers and we began with Veggie Fresh Rolls: lettuce, carrots, green onions, cucumbers, rice noodles, and cilantro wrapped in soft rice paper. The rolls were served with a sweet sauce topped with peanuts. It was lovely to behold and taste. They were indeed made fresh and the sweet sauce enhanced the flavor of the vegetables beautifully.
Unfortunately, the dish arrived without napkins, chopsticks, or silverware and we had to ask for them upon our server’s return.
The Raa Naa noodles sounded irresistible so they became our first selection. Tofu, bean sprouts, pea pods, broccoli, mushrooms were sauteed over thick, rice noodles and served with a garlic, brown sauce. (The leftovers carried out subsequently leaked sauce all over my jeans and shoes but that’s another story.)
The noodles had a good consistency and were not over done; the dish is marked on the menu as being a customer favorite and we can understand why.
Our next item was the Peanut Broccoli with Shrimp (Ram Long Song - the Thai name has a much better ring to it). The menu describes it as broccoli, string beans, and carrots stir-fried in creamy, sweet peanut sauce. The white rice was above par for an Asian restaurant, and the shrimp was fine as was the sauce. But the broccoli was a bit scarce considering the name of the dish.
The most important thing to know about this restaurant is that they will deliver the spice level for which you ask. Instead of the far-ranging 10 spice levels found elsewhere, they offer six, beginning with mild (no spice). Fresh peppers are used and the increments start with ½ tsp up to Erb Thai hot with 3 tablespoons.
Out of the six levels, the Raa Naa noodles were ordered at three and the Peanut Broccoli at four. We were both happy with our spice levels and really appreciated receiving what we ordered.
So to sum up, the ambiance is not great but our food was fresh, nicely presented, and very well-prepared. The menu is excellent with a made-to-order spice level, and our server was friendly and polite. The small restaurant is a worthy addition to the Thai food scene of Grand Rapids. If you complain that your food was too “hot” then you didn’t read and believe the menu.
Erb Thai is on Facebook and Twitter, and you can find their website at: www.erbthaigr.com
Previously reviewed Thai Restaurants:
Angel's Thai Cafe - 1/7/10
Thai Express - 5/6/10
Thai Cuisine - 11/3/10 (closed)
Rak Thai Bistro - 12/22/10
Thai Chef - 4/13/11
Nu-Thai Bistro - 8/18/11