Thai Restaurant Next Door - Zapp Zapp Noodle House (Albany)
It's not often you find a restaurant next door you can eat at each week. Sure there are gourmet eateries you can go to twice a year, but a restaurant you can eat at each week, that's a real find. Well, my wife and I found just that at Zapp Zapp Noodle House in Albany. It's a quiet peaceful Thai restaurant that you can go to each week and not get tired of. We've gone twice and plan on going again - next week. On our first visit, we started with Thai Sausage. The sausage wasn't greasy and had a pleasant robust flavor. It was actually enough for six people so we only ate about half. There was fresh ginger and peanuts on the plate as well as red onions which brought out even further the flavor of the sausage. We then had Pad Thai. Unlike other Thai restaurants, Zapp Zapp's wasn't greasy or overpowering and the egg was perfect, not too hard or runny. The rice noodles were also just perfect, not too hard or soft and the flavors were nicely balanced. The portion was enough to feed two people. We then finished with fried banana with ice cream. The fried banana wasn't greasy and there was honey on the coconut ice cream, a pleasant treat. The portion was more than enough for the two of us.
Today we took out Pad Kee Mao with chicken. Like the Pad Thai, it wasn't greasy and the rice noodles were perfect. There was an abundance of tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, basil, and zucchini. The vegetables were done perfectly, crisp, sweet and not hard or mushy. The chicken wasn't greasy either and the flavors were balanced.
Zapp Zapp isn't the restaurant to go when you want to have a gourmet experience. However, for a local once a week dining experience, Zapp Zapp Noodle House is the Thai restaurant next door you'll want to keep returning to. I highly recommend it.
We went for the first time this Sunday for lunch... drove around the block once but couldn't see the name Zapp Zapp so we decided to park and then realized the message board with the name was on the sidewalk. The sign over the restaurant still bears the name of the former chinese restaurant.
Decided to try it even though we were the only patrons - there was one other table which turned out to be friends of the owners.
There were six of us so we decided to order two appetizers and two salads - Deep fried beef jerky, fried chicken wings; green papaya salad and the seafood salad.
The beef jerky was excellent - deep fried but still maintained a bit of juice and came with a sesame sauce with chili flakes.
The Chicken wings were also moist and smothered with fried basil which was exceptional - not greasy and had a pleasant sweetness.
The papaya salad and the seafood salad were both really good - the seafood consisted of a couple of prawns (could have used more) and lots of fresh squid. the papaya salad had a really delicious dressing and was really refreshing.
We each ordered a bowl of noodles but with the appetizers we could have just ordered 3 bowls and shared.
We found the noodles very fresh - we had rice and egg noodles and flat rice noodles. The broth was clear and not greasy however, we thought the broth could have used some spicing up - it tasted a bit bland and sweet.
All in all I think it was good but again with the flavors of the appetizers and salads being so intense, they could have done the same with the noodle dishes.
Last night my wife and I went to Zapp Zapp again. This time we ordered spring rolls and pad kra pow with beef and rice. The spring rolls along with the usual vegetables had rice noodles in them and were crunchy. The dipping sauce I think had honey. The beef tasted good but was a little chewy. However, the rest of the dish had a pleasant basil flavor with green beans and bamboo shoots as well as red and green peppers. Overall we were pleased.
We had the papaya salad tonight which was pretty good. It had iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green beans, shredded papaya and cashew nuts. The 2 shrimp tasted good. The only thing the salad didn't need were pickled mini shrimp which were too hard to be eaten. Then we had the Ba-Mee Rad Nar which is crispy egg noodle with pork, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, onions and carrots. We only had a taste since the dish was basically a bowl of gravy with noodles and was very unappetizing. We don't plan on ordering that dish again.
I strolled by this place a week or two ago, and was most interested in trying it out. After seeing the positive postings on this website, I went ahead and gave it a try. It is great! Quality chicken, very fresh veggies, great service.
The place is very clean and staff is very welcoming.
I encourage you all to try it out - you won't be disappointed if you like authentic Thai food.
Most of the other Thai restaurants in Albany don't stand up to the Pad Gra Pow we had here!
We had the Pad Himmaphan with beef. The flavor of the beef really went well with the flavor of the sauce. Also, there was a perfect amount of sauce, not too much, not too little. My only reservation was that there were too many onions. For dessert we had the dessert of the day which was a steamed mini pumpkin with filled with coconut rice and honey. It was served ice cold and very delicious.
Had dinner at Zapp Zapp today. Based on this experience I'd say it's a solid neighborhood joint with a few unusual menu items, but I wouldn't drive very far out of my way for it (which I would do for Champa Garden, for example).
Thai Beef Jerky--tasty, but I was hoping for more. I know it's asking a lot to hope it would stand up to ther version at Lotus of Siam in Vegas, and I'm probably being unfair to compare it, but this version lacks the crispiness and intense flavor of LOS. There was just something missing...a richness...almost as if it needed to be greasier.
Shanghai Noodle Salad (special)--a fave of mine from Soi 4. This version included the meat you normally see in Yum Woon Sen. Beyond that it included noodle sheets and onion. The dressing was advertised as lemon, but the chili flavor blocked any sense of citrus. As it was, the salad was very nice, but it could have been really special with a squeeze of fresh lime, and perhaps some peanuts. Once again, there seemed to be something missing.
Spicy Eggplant with Pork Rice Plate--solid, no complaints.
Curry Noodle Soup w/ Chicken. Once again, something was missing. The flavor seemed right, but it lacked intensity. I was left craving lemon or chili oil or cilantro or something to perk it up. Oddly, there were no condiments on any of the tables.
Would I eat here again? Yes, if I'm in the neighborhood. I'd like to try the sausage and a few more of the noodle dishes. It's just not going to happen until I next see a movie at the Albany or take San Pablo to Costco.