Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
Jan 11, 2011 02:32 PM

Tried Tongue Thai'd in Royal Oak, MI today...

...and enjoyed it. Went there for lunch, and had sort of planned on getting one of their $6.50 lunch specials on the back of the menu, but upon looking at the offerings (rather meager on the lunch combos, I'd say), I decided to go a la carte with one of the House Specialties, Thai Riffic Twisted Curry. I know, I's kind of a cheesy name for an entree, but it's basically red, yellow, and green curry together with some lime and veggies, with my choice of meat (chicken) over rice. I opted for "2" on a heat scale of 0-4.

The dish itself was quite nice, and not too busy, as I thought it might be. The curry sauce was relatively thick, and there was plenty of it, allowing for a tasty treatment of the white rice. The chicken was very recognizable as white meat, and had good texture and flavor. They didn't skimp on it, either, and for $9, they shouldn't. The whole dish was really enough for two meals for me, especially since they graciously offered to bring me more rice, and, since I'm *trying* to be better this year about not eating too much, they were completely willing to let me have it to go, too.

The veggies tasted fresh to me, and were nicely cut/skinned. For aesthetic value, I do wish that they'd thrown in some red bell peppers or something to give the dish a bit more color, but the veggies that were present were nice and well-prepared...not destroyed. The rice was just's hard to get rice wrong, but it most definitely can be done, and theirs was fine.

Service at 1PM was a bit disheveled, but that's at least in part due to the fact that Natalie (the wife of the chef/owner, I think) was training a new server/FOH person on her first day, and so there were some distractions. Nothing earth-shattering, though. One thing about the facility: it's *cold* in there. They have a little portable heater going, but especially given the way the door stays open too long, that little heater just isn't enough. Go in with the temperature factor in mind.

Overall, I was pleased. This was my first chance to try their food (I stopped in *just after* they first opened, but had just eaten before that), and I enjoyed it. It's not necessarily the cheapest Thai food you'll eat, but neither is it the most expensive, and the quality seems to be there, at least in the early stages here. One thing's for *darned* sure: this place is far, far, *FAR* better than the cursed-of-God lousy Thai House Express that used to be there, which honestly served inedible food.

They're still working on the facilities to make it more of a place that can be dined in (working on putting another bathroom in, for example), but they're making steps in the right direction. Natalie knows her menu, she works hard, and she's not afraid to talk shop. The chef in back has some skill to make dishes with freshness and appeal. Spice level was tamer than what I'm used to (JP would probably laugh out loud at it), so I'll step it up to a "3" next time, but my mother probably would have thought that the "2" level was going to kill her dead. She's unapologetically *not* a spice/heat-loving person.

I'll be eating the rest of the dish either tonight or tomorrow via the microwave and I'll see if it holds up under subsequent dining opportunities.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. hmmm.. How does it stack up versus the somewhat nearby Siam Spicy on Woodward?
    I, too, might check it out. Scary combination, though, with the R.O. location and all the cute plays on words. However, if you say the veggies weren't ruined, then that is encouraging. Thx for the report, Sir.
    PS--sounds like your Mom may be another member for the Onion Marmalade Club. :-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: VTB

      I went to Tongue Thai'd many months back, maybe the 2nd week they were open. I was VERY impressed with their food. The owners are very passionate about freshness, quality, and traditional ingredients -- their pad se ewe, for example, uses only the traditional gai lan (none of that blasted American broccoli!) and the 3"-wide sheets of chewy rice noodles (not the skinny dry noodles most every other Thai restaurant in the area uses). I agree 100% with boagman about the Thai-riffic twisted curry -- great flavors, but could use more color.

      I had the same concern as VTB about the cutesy plays on words. But much to my surprise, they make some excellent food. Easily better than Siam Spicy -- I never thought Siam Spicy's food was all that fresh. :-\

      Anyway, I haven't been back to Tongue Thai'd since that first visit, and have heard horror stories on Yelp about their service -- seems they can get swamped pretty quickly with take-out and delivery orders. But I think those are kinks they can work out over time, so long as they don't lose sight of the standards they keep for their food. And from boagman's recent experience, it seems they're sticking with good, fresh food! :-)

      1. re: jjspw

        I went for lunch today -- it was so bad I will never go back.

        Ordered the twisted curry w/chicken. Service was very disorganized and the wait was longer than I thought it should have been -- roughly 1:15 p.m.

        My drinks weren't delivered until after I was well into the dish. Rather than serving it over the rice, I got a little side bowl of rice. I guess I was supposed to stir it into the curry, which had WAY too much sauce for my liking.

        The dish itself? It wasn't that bad, except for the potatoes -- they were just barely above raw!

        I complained and the woman running the place explained that she was "training" a new cook and a new server. She offered another dish for takeout, but I declined it. She then comped the meal.

        I went down the street to Buddy's and had a slice of pizza.

        1. re: vdoucette

 did I miss this before?

          I'll spot the service (I mentioned it myself), and now that you mention it, the potatoes in my curry were somewhat undercooked depending on the piece, but overall, the experience you were so turned off by sounds somewhat like mine, except that I *liked* all the extra sauce they gave me. Are you telling me that you didn't get a plate?

          I'm surprised that you'd never go back, having had the situation properly handled by the woman, who I'm supposing is Natalie. You had a bad outing, but when you brought it to her attention, she made it *right*, by offering you a substitution, and when that wasn't wanted, she gave you your money back, and if I'm reading your post correctly, she did so without a problem. See, to me, that's a sure sign that I *will* go back and give them another least they were willing to see their mistake(s) and they recognized that you shouldn't have had to pay for them, right?

          "So bad I will never go back" for me is reserved for places that have lousy, acidic attitudes, won't admit to mistakes/missteps, or just treat me poorly in general. For me to make that statement, I would have had to leave *angry*, not just minorly disappointed.

          I'm *not* saying that you're wrong, nor that you don't have the right to feel this way...I'm just surprised that, given their willingness to satisfy you even to the point of a comp, you're writing them off completely. That seems like overkill to me, but then, that's just me.

          Good eating!

          1. re: boagman

            boagman's reaction was my reaction too. It takes a lot for me to complain about food, service, or anything at a restaurant. They types of issues I have with restaurants I've completely written off are much, much more serious issues than those mentioned. To each his own, though.

            But one thing I must defend is: "Rather than serving it over the rice, I got a little side bowl of rice." I have NEVER seen a Thai curry served directly OVER rice. Next to it, on the same plate, yes. Curry and rice in separate bowls, very frequently. But never directly on top of the rice. This seems like an excessively nitpicky complaint, just for the sake of complaining.

    2. We finally had a chance to try Tongue Thai'd today. We ordered the Chicken Sate, Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers and Thai Riffic Twisted Curry. Overall it was pretty tasty. The spring rolls come four per order and are relatively small but tasty. My only real complaint was that there wasn't much in the spring rolls more fried wrapper but still had a nice flavor. The Chicken Sate was very nice. The Pot Stickers were The sauce again was very good. I would agree with Boagman's summation of the Thai Riffic Twisted Curry. I can't comment much on the service as we got it to go, using a Living Social coupon. I'm curious to try a few more of their dishes. The Thai Riffic Curry tasted very much like an Indian dish to me, which is no problem because I love Indian food. We enjoyed the meal, have leftovers and saved $ 10 using the coupon. I'd say it was well worth the trip.

      1. I like this place, too. It’s a strange entity. You can find things to like or to dislike, depending on how you’re so inclined. One of the weirdest things about it is that I gather the couple calling the shots has never so much as visited Thailand nor had experience as professional cooks. As best I understand, while very young, they somehow went into business with a Thai chef in Las Vegas. This couple handled the books and interfaced with the customers. Things went very well. Then, the Thai chef flaked-out and disappeared. The couple then was forced into reverse-engineering the dishes, based on what they had seen and tasted over the many months. They were able to make a pretty good go of it, and recover. Then, they had a kid and decided to move back to Detroit for family support.

        Fortunately, when they moved back here, they decided to give the ol’ biz another try. They’ve been open only a few months, and I sense that they still are having start-up problems. This place is really rough around the edges. One key mistake they’ve made is they thought the City of Royal Oak would not be anti-business. Wrong.

        Anyway, due to red tape, it seems that Tongue Thai’d is giving up its restaurant service. It is going straight Take Out, only. The tables up front will remain, but they will only be for people to sit while waiting for their Take Out (which might be a long while, given the limitations of the kitchen space). If someone is inclined to turn around, have a quick seat and scarf down his/her Take Out in the waiting area, I think it would be okay, though.

        While there on Saturday, I had Pad Thai and Som Tom (green papaya salad). First, this is the sole place in town daring to do Som Tom. For me, that sealed the deal, right there. I ordered it Hot, and it most certainly was. The salad was not bruised until tender, with flavors melded. It was just julienned and then dressed. But, I later was told this simply was an oversight. In any event, I respectfully rate this dish as a “good try.” (note—the toasted dried peppers in it were singed into black charcoal, but I assume this also was just a mistake)

        The Pad Thai’s noodles were nicely done. Tongue Thai’d has its own spin on this dish. It features shredded carrot, and does not contain any of the typical Thailand street accompaniments such as dried shrimp, salted radish, fried tofu, Chinese chives, pickled peppers, etc.. But, again, I must say that it also was not an all-out fraud, cynically concocted for Rust Best Americana. The Pad Thai at Tongue Thai’d is better than that at most places in Metro Detroit, for what that’s worth.

        I’m looking forward to my next visit. On to the Curries!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: VTB

          Thanks for coming in! Preserved radish, chives and a few other ingredients are in our pad thai!
          Tofu, steamed or fried is always an option! Choose your meat choose your heat! Yes, the peppers were a little extra toasted on my behalf. I must take the blame for that!

          The end of the story goes on with our partner coming back after 6 months. Traveling to Thailand himself... Yes he was Thai/Irish and had never been, returned to a restaurant he openly admitted, "never thinking it would still be open". We had no choice. Love and passion for something we created doesn't give up, go away or walk away.
          Here's a pic from Las Vegas, April 2009

        2. On a side note....I dropped into Nu-Pacific Bistro in Walled Lake for Lunch yesterday. It has a fancy sign out front but is fully a greasy (OK Maybe Chili Oil) spoon Thai/Chinese interior. Not as bad a Pi's but much less than most. I asked for Pork Drunken Noodles and a Cucumber Salad. When asked for the spice level I said "Go Ahead a try to hurt me as bad as you can". The man behind the counter replied "Extreme" and I smiled back and replied "Absolutely".

          I got it take out and they committed a big no-no. They need to know that they should stack the hot dish over the cold dish. Heat rises and and cold air sinks. Blah Blah Blah.

          Anyways I got it back to the office and took my first bite of the pork....and a few noodles. Throat Seizure! About 20 minutes later I walked into my bosses office with tears and a blushed face. I told him "I finally found a local Thai place that knows what spicy is supposed to mean. I am enjoying my self very much" and then I used my sleeve to wipe away the tears and snot running down face.

          They used a decent amount of fresh herbs and it had decent flavor. Refined....hell no. Will I be back to investigate more? Oh Hell yes!

          Oh and I liked the Cucumber Salad too!

          6 Replies
          1. re: JanPrimus

            Disclaimer - This is not for the weak or infirm. The menu and shift consistency has not been tested. I might have only encountered a chef that was pissed off at his Girlfriend for the day and was going to teach some "บุคคลภายนอก" a lesson.

            1. re: JanPrimus

              Did you ever follow up with this place, JP? Verdict?

              1. re: boagman

                Are they still open? We drove up Woodward Sunday and there were some curtains or something covering the windows.

                1. re: coney with everything

                  Tongue Thai'd, unfortunately, is not currently open, and they're planning on opening in a different location, according to Natalie.

                  1. re: boagman

                    I liked them! Didn't eat there a ton (coconut milk and fried rice noodles not being part of a heart healthy daily diet) but I thought that their Pad Thai and twisted curry flavors were great. Fussy eater husband even really liked them. Their tom yum soup made my nose run in a good way once....

                    That wasn't a great location, though. I hate those Woodward facing shops - tight parking and driving spaces, tight exits onto a busy road. Hope they relocate well.

                    1. re: HillsofBeverly

                      Well that's a bummer...we liked TT! I hope they relocate and aren't just closing! I was surprised to have a halfway decent Vegetable Pad Thai at Harvest Garden on Woodward at Normandy in RO. It's strictly carry out, there portions are huge and they are pretty decent about adding extra heat and vegetables when asked. Kind of a dive but seriously not horrible.

                      It's mainly Chinese food with only a few Thai items at the bottom of the menu. They have daily $ 3.99 lunches too...all the usual suspects, heavy on the fried items but still somewhat decent. We tend to steer clear of most of the cheapest menu items but when we have ordered them and asked for extra veggies they have loaded it with veggies and charged only a small amount more.

                      Harvest Garden
                      31908 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48073