Royal Thai - Atlantic Highlands
Tried out Royal Thai, a BYO place in Atlantic Highlands on the corner of
1st and W. Mount Ave. last night. It's a cozy nicely appointed dining
room with warm colors and comfortable furnishings. It was rather early
on a weeknight so there was not much of a crowd, but there were several
folks picking up take out. The place has only been open about a month.
The service was attentive and cordial, and the wait staff was helpful
without being intrusive. I started with the "Bags of Gold" appetizer
that was recommended by my server, billed as a mix of crab flakes and
cheese wrapped in a won ton skin, deep fried and served with a Sweet
and Sour sauce. It was OK, sort of a crab rangoon sort of dish, but did
not stick out as particularly Thai.
The entree was a bit more in line with expectations. Spicy Basil Duck
was a very large portion of sauteed pieces of duck with onions, chilis,
bell pepper, fresh basil and a spicy brown sauce. It was very tasty and
surprisingly spicy as I often have trouble getting places to crank up
the seasonings beyond the average western palate. The one downside was
that there were a few unexpected bits of bone in some of the duck.
Granted there was no claim of it being boneless, but if there is bone in
a duck dish I prefer just having the whole legs, thighs or breast with a
sharp knife. If they are going to serve chopped and sauteed duck they
ought to try to minimize the bony bits. This was a minor quibble
All in all the meal was good. Not great but I'm more than willing to
support a new place and give them a shot of working into their stride.
This is especially so given the surprising lack of Thai food in Monmouth
They were doing a steady take-out business, and a copy of the menu can
be seen at:
The main menu has the same selections, plus more separate entree selections
for Pork, Chicken, Beef and assorted seafood.
I really wanted Royal Thai to be The wonderful new Thai restaurant in my backyard I could brag to my friends about. As has been pointed out, Monmouth County NJ is woefully deficient in good Thai Restaurants, or any Thai restaurants for that matter. Living in Atlantic highlands, I was hoping this was going to be my new place. Alas, it was not to be.
I gave them a couple chances, both times ordering take out. My first experience, I ordered the Pad Thai figuring this would be a good yardstick. The place looks cute and clean inside and is decorated nicely. When i tried to pay with my cc, i was told there is a $15min and I would need to use cash to pay for my $14 dollar entree. There is an ATM across the street. Fine, be right back. After getting hit with a $3 fee at the ATM, I settled my bill with cash and headed home eager to dig in. Now, I usually order Thai from a great little hole in wall restaurant in Eatontown called Far East and it is always fantastic. For those who like their thai kicked up a notch or two, this is your place. Needless to say, Royal Thai had some pretty big shoes to fill. As I walked out the door, I couldn't help but notice that my take out bag felt . . . rather light. As it turned out, the not-so-genrous portion turned out to be a blessing in disguise. First off, the noodles were one solid clump which broke apart into smaller clumps when I tried to separate them. Apparently the missing weight was the lack of Pad Thai sauce. I am also used to getting condiments with my Thai as most Thai restaurants will give you a side of sauce or peanuts. Not here. Not even soy sauce packets. The dish was amply flavored with a very un-thai like citrus lime flavor, and completely devoid of spices as far as I could tell. I got through about half of my lime flavored noodles and gave up, disappointed but determined to like this place somehow, some way. Went back about a month later. My second order was also take out. I gave the very young girl on the phone the menu number for my entree. "You want what?". N2, I repeated, its on the menu. N, yes, N like Nancy, and then the number 2. Its under noodles. "oh, okay". (long awkward pause). umm, do you know what i want to order? "yes". Okay, then. Be there in about ten minutes. Wow. That's all i can say about that ordering experience. I showed up this time prepared, with cash in hand. As was the case the last time, the place was completely empty on a weeknight. No big surprise there. As I walked out the door the thought occurred to me I should have ordered an app as the bag was once again, very light. Well, the flat rice noodles were not stuck together in a single clump. Theres an improvement! However, the dish, perhaps partly because the container was half full, looked like somebody's left overs. Seriously. I know I sound very harsh but, well, the truth hurts sometimes. The sweet soy sauce was a watery, oily concoction that left the taste of oil in my mouth and on my lips for the rest of the evening. ewww. The dish said it came with egg and broccolli. I got mine with chicken. For some reason, I assumed I would be getting chinese broccolli as that is the way I get it at Far East. Nope, just plain ol' broccolli florets which were mushy and clearly had previously been frozen. There was NO egg to report on. Trust me, I looked everywhere for it. No egg. No condiments. No chopsticks. The chicken was as you would expect, not too dry but not enough of it. I finished my meal this time, however. So thats improvement . . . right??
Bottom line: This dish was clearly left over from the lunch menu earlier in the day and at $7.95, probably would have made an okay lunch. And I'll be driving the half hour to get to Far East from now on.
I've not really been happy with Far East Taste since Richard sold it. Even when he was there I did not really consider it authentic Thai. It was, however, EXCELLENT. As far as cuisine, it was authentic "Richard's Cuisine."
If you go a few hundred yards down Rt 35 at the location of the old Tokyo restaurant there is a very good new place called Thai Chilies... http://thaichiliesusa.com/
Hi lien0569, I read your post and am really surprised that you did not have a good experience. I order from here a lot when I am home and like you, I really want this place to work because, I travel so far for work I'm lazy on the weekends and I really want a decent Thai place in our area. I have to say, they are really acccomodating for me (vegan diet) so I am not a Thai expert (i am most familiar with Wondee Siam and Chili Thai in Hells Kitchen). I generally ask them to make a lot of modifications to their offerings on the menu and they accomodate me. I certainly understand where you are coming from but maybe they were having an "off" day===not that should be an excuse but I am hoping that is the case. If you try Manow, please post your thoughts. Thanks.
Alas, I too have had mediocre experiences at Royal Thai. Tom Kha Gai soup was completely unbalanced in flavor - too salty, not enough brightness from lime or lemongrass - altogether deeply disappointing. The pad Thai was as bad as has been described upthread. Someone in the kitchen needs to pay attention to the fish sauce. I wished with my whole culinary heart that this place would be wonderful, but it SO isn't. Back to Siam Garden for me....
Radiogril1---forgive me, Siam Garden sounds familiar but can't think of where it is...is that the one in Red Bank? Thanks. It's just too bad about Royal Thai, I'll still go there as it's close and like I mentioned, I just really ask for tofu and vegetables but I really, really wanted Thai or something right in Atlantic Highlands. Thanks!!!
My husband and I were so happy to read your post. We live near AH and had take out yesterday. We are both vegetarian--I am a strict vegetarian and Royal Thai uses all of the traditional seasonings (fish sauce, oyster sauce) but they graciously made me something off the menu and it was excellent. It was a tofu, broccoli, pepper combination with chili and holy basil in soy sauce. Simple and delicious. I hope they make it. I work in NYC and frequent Chili Thai on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen so it was nice to see a Thai place so close to home. I thought the service was very, very nice and accomodating. My husband commented the decor was cute and clean and I really enjoyed my meal. Thanks!
One thing I noticed was that they didn't seem to offer the condiments that are usually find at Thai places. Most offer a tray of sauces and stuff like siracha sauce, fish sauce, picckled chiles and ground cashew or peanuts. For what it's worth the food was well seasoned when served. I often use the condiments to spice up the food served at other Thai places, but at Royal Thai there was really no need.