Thai Villa is drop dead gorgeous. Forget the food, which is equally amazing – the ambiance alone is worth it. From the moment you walk in, you feel like you’ve been transported out of NYC to an old-world, luxurious setting. The main dining room on the first floor is one large open space with a mix of tables and booths. Both are made of golden-brown wood and the backs of the booths are beautifully hand carved with intricate designs. The walls have exposed brown and red brick. And the most spectacular of all is the enormous, luminescent, amber colored chandelier, which is a serious show stopper.
A tiny mezzanine overlooks the entire stunning restaurant. It’s private and open at the same time. The disadvantage of sitting on the mezzanine, however, is that the servers spend most of their time on the main dining floor, making it difficult to flag one down.
Thai Villa could’ve just relied on its charm, but it doesn’t. The dishes are top notch. The menu consists of a combination of classics (stir-fries, curries, and noodles) along with some unique entree creations specific to the restaurant. We mixed it up with one stir-fry and one curry.
The red curry came with bamboo shoots, Thai eggplant, string beans, basil leaves, and other mixed Asian veggies. It was spicy, very flavorful, packed with vegetables, and incredibly comforting. Despite its coconut milk base, it was very well balanced and not overly sweet.
The spicy basil (pad kra praw), one of the two most classic dishes of Thai cuisine, came with Thai chilies, string beans, onions, long hot peppers, Thai basil leaves, and other mixed veggies. Though this dish is my favorite Thai dish, I always hesitate to order it. I need to have a lot of faith that a restaurant will not butcher this dish for me to gamble on it. Most times, restaurants will serve an overly sweet version of this dish, adding a lot of refined sugar that not only detracts from the taste, but also makes the dish completely inauthentic. After speaking with our server, I felt confident this place would make it correctly and they did. It was delicious, with a hint of sweetness from the basil and spiciness from the chilies. The anise flavor was subtle and complemented the other flavors well.
Each dish was served with jasmine rice, but we opted for an extra side of ginger rice. The ginger rice had fresh garlic and a touch of oil. Though good, the ginger flavor wasn’t prominent and particularly when mixed with the entrees, the flavor was subsumed. Unless you’re eating it with a mild dish or on its own, I wouldn’t recommend getting it because you won’t much be able to differentiate it from the regular jasmine rice.
We also ordered a traditional Thai iced coffee, which many places execute poorly because they overdo the sweetened condensed milk. Here they struck a nice balance with the coffee, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and ice, such that the resulting beverage was perfectly sweet and creamy.
Thai Villa is an absolute must try. They don’t take reservations for dinner and on Friday and Saturday nights the wait can get up to 1-2 hours. If you’re going to go those nights, go for an early or late dinner. Most weekday evenings should be much more manageable. Otherwise, you can make reservations for lunch. Go for the food, go for the ambiance, just go!