By Emily G. Peters
Pasadena is home to many reputable restaurants, several of which can claim to be the first, the most popular, even the most highly rated in their niche. But that doesn’t necessarily make them the best. For our money, few can match the delicious things they’re serving up in the kitchen at Fresh Thai.
Wedged in a tiny strip mall on Foothill Boulevard, this restaurant-in-miniature only possesses four tables, all with a view of the parking lot. Here, an hour’s meal will see more patrons stream in for pick-up than dine-in, the chef churning out more noodles and curries than seems possible within such a short timeframe.
Fresh Thai is not new to the neighborhood. It has enjoyed its minor habitat for several years, but recently came under the management of the Poon family. The look and feel of the restaurant gained a bit more polish and flair. Additions appeared on their already excellent menu and daily specials adorned the wall in colored chalk, including options for our vegetarian and vegan friends. What Fresh Thai lacks in elbow room it makes up for in flavor, spooning it out on the double with dine-in, take out, delivery and catering options.
The standout dishes at Fresh Thai are the a la carte stir-fries: perfectly balanced with vegetables, herbs, citrus, sauces and clean cuts of meat to get your mouth watering. Even simple things like vegetable soup are thoughtful: a clear seasoned broth with vegetables just barely blanched to retain their flavor, texture and color. It’s the kind nourishing, deeply delicious thing you crave when allergies or a head cold have you feeling under the weather.
Like any restaurant, experiencing a great meal here instead of an average one depends largely on what you order. Though tasty, one could forego the curries for the spicy noodle dish or the “Fresh Ginger” stir fry with grilled beef. Lunch and dinner combo specials get you an entree, soup, egg roll and rice for a bargain. And as an added bonus? Delivery within a 3 mile radius is free and at your door within 15 minutes.
But if you eat-in, it’s on the plate in under five—likely closer to three. The speed of their service is so quick you’d swear it was prepackaged, but the “fresh” in Fresh Thai is no misnomer. The quality of their vegetables and meat outshines many other restaurants that are more expensive and much less tempting.
When it comes to Fresh Thai, the discerning gourmand will overlook its size to enjoy consistently well-crafted fare. For flavor, freshness and affordability, it’s hard to find a better deal in Pasadena. So leave work early, head out to dinner, and do yourself a favor: get the Fresh Ginger stir-fry—extra spicy.
Fresh Thai is located at 3544 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena. Contact them for take-out, delivery or catering at 626.577.7676 and check out their menu at www.freshthairestaurant.com.