This article appeared in the 3/08/08 issue of The Ramapo News!
By Jess Dutschmann and James Houde, Staff Writers
James: Reading a popular local food blog the other day, I for some reason decided we should check out Malee Thai in Ridgewood. Before this, I knew nothing of Thai food other than an ill fated attempt by a roommate at westernized Pad Thai involving peanut butter. So I did what any college kid would do, I took a crash course in culture at Wikipedia University. I learned that Thai cuisine focuses on harmony of flavor to dishes, makes heavy use of fresh herbs unfamiliar to the west, and that the leader of the Thai junta claimed that the insurgency in his country is being financed by restaurants in Malaysia selling Tom Yam Kung soup. Sometimes I don’t trust the internet.
Jess: Thankfully none of those restaurants sell Malee’s appetizer sampler. It’s fit for two, and features curried potato pastry puffs, chicken satay (chicken on a stick) with peanut sauce, a crunchy popcorn-like snack of fried noodles, dumplings, fried tofu, and sauces and relishes to compliment. Their take on satay excels. The peanut sauce and the chicken aren’t overdone or over spiced.Also definitely worthy of a rebel Thai general were the fried noodles, if only because you’ve probably never tasted anything like them (unless you are a rebel Thai general).
James: You’d probably also enjoy the infamous Tom Yam Kung soup, a staple of real Thai food. It was some of the best soup I’ve had in awhile, with shrimp in a light chicken broth seasoned with kefir lime leaves. Its tangy sourness with a hint of citrus was bright and punchy. I cleansed my palate with Jasmine tea from their selection of herbals. It’s also BYOB, and I would suggest beer lovers reach for a hoppy IPA to even out the spicy heat of the meal. Another good beverage would be the milk based Thai Iced tea.
Jess: It’s a deep black tea which seems almost chai-like in nature topped with a sweet condensed milk. Despite that, it isn’t cloying or too milky. It perfectly complemented my Drunken Fried Rice entree. Similar to Chinese fried rice but with more spices such as garlic and Thai basil, and larger chunks of everything. It’s huge, so it might be better shared.
James: I got some chicken curry. Thai curries burn hotter for shorter than Indian varieties. The restaurant offers this and most other dishes in a selection of spiciness from mild, to hot, to “Thai”. When I ordered medium, I actually got medium burn; most restaurants lie to you and either give you bland or taste bud incinerating. The serving temperature was a bit too cold, something that affected the other dishes as well.
Jess: The desserts here are elegantly plated. I’ve observed that many desserts are overpoweringly sweet; neither the fried ice cream nor the Thai custard are. The fried ice cream, despite being only one scoop, was plenty to share while the Custard was more of a personal size. The latter was a standard steamed egg-and-milk affair while the fried ice cream was a
fragrant mango ice cream battered and fried. Another nice part about having dessert here is that it gives you a chance to look around, the atmosphere is lovely. The waitresses all wear shirts which say “Malee-Sooo Good…” and skirts which are of a similar (if not exactly the same) fabric as the beautiful, hand made tablecloths. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be subliminal messaging, but it does seem to make the food taste better—that and their overall niceness and helpful service. It’s a college-student friendly place, and you can really tell from the service you get, which is “Sooo Good”.
Bottom Line: Malee has a great atmosphere and décor, and would make a great date spot.
Malee Thai Restaurant
2 East Ridgewood Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Men’s Bathroom: C
Women’s Bathroom: A