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Jun 26, 2009 09:40 AM

Da's Thai at the Y--has anyone been? (Princeton)

I've searched the boards, and couldn't find a consensus regarding a good Thai restaurant in the area.

The places we've been to haven't been spectacular:

Tom Yum Goong (Princeton): The best here, but that is not saying a lot. It's pretty, the service friendly, but the food is oversalted and getting the attention of a server after the food hits the table is difficult.

Thai Village (Princeton): Not good. Greasy food which has an off smell; surly service.

Royal Orchid (East Windsor): Disappointing. If they concentrated on Thai instead of pan-Asian, might be better.

Mie Thai (North Brunswick) closed down and was replaced with another Thai restaurant (Aroma?) which had a pan-Asian menu with what appeared to be the top 10 of what Americans seem to order (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Thai); I haven't had much luck with schitzophrenic menus

I couldn't find anything on Da's Thai Cafe; has anyone been there? We almost went one afternoon, then realised it was in the YMCA (we had planned on a leisurely lunch with wine).

Are there any other Thai recommendations (within 30 minutes, preferably)? Particularly for a great beef salad, papaya salad, or steaming bowl (with flames) of tom yum goong--served with real Jasmine rice?

Da's Thai American Cafe & Catering
59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton, NJ

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  1. I have not tried Da's Thai Cafe yet; was a bit turned off by the Y aspect. But I have tried most others within a 15 mile radius to downtown Princeton; and the best by far is Thai Kitchen III in Hillsborough, on 206 where the Blockbuster is. Awesome food every single time and never ordered a special that wasn't spectacular. And it's cheaper than Tom Yum Goong, my distant second favorite, but just for select dishes.

    Thai Kitchen #3
    649 US Highway 206 # 10, Hillsborough, NJ

    1. Caralien, I mentioned this place a couple of months ago, though I did not give its name (just called it a Thai place in Princeton!). See the following link and page down to my post where I mention the NY Times review. The one person who responded said Da's wasn't good but did not elaborate.

      If I were you, I would head to Lambertville and Bridgewater/Somerville to try the Thai restaurants there (two in Lambertville and at least six in or near Somerville. All have been discussed extensively on the board.

      1. We went for lunch today:

        The restaurant is in the YMCA. BUT--there is outdoor seating that's very cute. 3 tables for 2, 2 round tables for 4 under umbrellas. The decor reminded me of the places in Chicago and SF which were on the alley side and converted to casual outdoor dining areas. Comfortable, but not the least bit pretentious. And you'll easily forget that you're at the Y (there's indoor seating too).

        There's a counter to order from with a chalkboard filled with American classics (burgers, sandwiches and fries) plus a note to check the printed menu for Thai food. And Thai iced tea (yeah!). Credit cards are accepted too!

        We ordered the crispy duck, sauce on the side, as well as the beef salad. After ordering, Da recommended eating outdoors--that sounded like a great idea.

        Outside was warm, but well shaded (it was 96F today). About 7 minutes later, the salad was brought out. Fresh lettuce, green onions, a mild fish sauce base with hints of basil and bird peppers. I'd like it spicier, and will ask for that next time, but this was good. Not overly salted as at most places. The slices of beef were substantial, but could have been a little thinner and charred (my preference), but the flavour was excellent. We thought that we might need take away containers, but overate instead.

        3 minutes later, the duck was brought out. Sliced, deboned, atop fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms (oyster?) which tasted like butter. The dipping sauce was soy based with fresh ginger. The rice was also good, but a tad mushy. The duck wasn't greasy even though it was deep-fried. We wrapped some of the pieces in the lettuce from the salad. The duck here is superior to the duck at Ivy Garden.

        Total: $25 including tax; we left $5 on the table before leaving.

        The service was incredibly friendly. It's more a lunch counter than anything else, but casual and very welcoming. Everyone there seemed to be so proud of their food and incredibly happy to have you as patrons--something seriously lacking here in the restaurant scene.

        Don't forget some gum or breath mints--you will need some after this fantastic meal.

        It's likely that we ordered some of the more expensive items on the menu--most are under $7, and can easily be shared.