There's nothing quite like the mix of sweet and savory flavors that you get from Thai food. Spiciness is a hallmark of many forms of Asian cuisine, and you'll get that from Thai food, too. But the combination of opposing flavors sets Thai food apart.
As a longtime fan of the cuisine, I had high hopes when I stopped by Thipi Thai in Glen Ellyn on a recent weeknight. And my dining companion, even more of an aficionado, was nearly chomping at the bit with hunger.
Fortunately, we were not disappointed. From the enchanting decor to the delightful dishes, we were in for a terrifically memorable meal.
Without hesitation, we placed our drink orders as soon as we saw the menu – we never pass up a chance to get Thai iced tea. It's a strongly brewed iced tea with sugar and condensed milk. The milk and the sugar complement the bitterness of the tea rather than masking it, making for a sensation that engages your taste buds.
For appetizers, I opted for the shumai steamed crabmeat dumplings served with soy sesame vinaigrette for dipping. It's a common order for me, and Thipi Thai's version was just right. My companion went for the coconut shrimp, which came with a pineapple mango sauce.
"Perfectly sweet and tangy," my dining companion said.
On to the entrees. We're both big fans of pad woonsen, which is what my companion ordered, but I thought I'd try something different and selected the orange beef. I'm only moderately tolerant of spicy food, but the menu showed just one pepper next to my choice – the scale appears to go up to three for items such as kung pao noodle chicken.
One particularly spicy pepper caught me by surprise, but otherwise it was just right, with the pineapple and mandarin orange slices providing the perfect contrast to the peppers and beef. I should have saved some to bring home, however, because I left myself without any room for dessert.
I probably would have chosen the "chocolate pyramid" – chocolate mousse with sauteed bananas over a rum sauce.
I requested a few bites of my companion's pad woonsen with chicken, and very much enjoyed the mix of cellophane noodles (I've seen them referred to as glass noodles elsewhere), chicken, egg and vegetables in a brown garlic sauce.
Thipi Thai has a high-ceilinged dining area, with an alcove toward the back that's up a flight of stairs. Prints of Asian scenes and delightful elephants carved from driftwood adorn the walls.
We found the service to be excellent, attentive without being obtrusive. And the menu has plenty of dishes I've never tried before to tempt me to return.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.
WHERE: 530 Crescent Blvd., Glen Ellyn
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
DRESS CODE: Casual