The Review Reviews: Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine

A real, live tuk tuk in its natural habitat

Our heroes ambled down Old Nugget Alley to Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine.  The night’s darkness concealed the shady brick exterior, which they had previously seen to consist of a single door in the middle of a wall. This time around, Persikov was noticeably taken with the impressive décor visible through a window, until Waltfeld pointed out that he was looking at Murphy’s. The two then descended a stairwell and headed down two narrow hallways to begin their expedition into Southeast Asian cuisine.

The interior of Tuk Tuk was more Thai than the established Hanover institution, Thai Orchid – from the statues of Buddha to the elephant-themed décor to the traditional Thai widescreen television playing Wheel of Fortune. As they deliberated over the menu, Waltfeld noted the plethora of gold tuk tuk models. For the uninitiated (and Persikov), a tuk tuk, the restaurant’s namesake, is essentially the love-child of a moped and a golf-cart; it is a traditional mode of taxi service in Thailand. Other Thai accoutrements in the restaurant included a picture of Thai King Rama V, another one depicting Southeast Asian legends, and an “I [heart] Thailand” T-shirt.

The two heroes were seated promptly, and after some deliberation, decided on the chicken satay ($7, “grilled chicken breast marinated with yellow curry powder and coconut milk and served with cucumber sauce and peanut sauce”) for the appetizer. The chicken was a delight.

Waltfeld remarked, “This chicken is tender, juicy, and delicious.”

“And that’s without the sauce,” Persikov interjected. The dish consisted of four tender pieces of grilled chicken impaled on bamboo skewers, with two small dishes – one a thick peanut sauce; the other a sweet and sour cucumber sauce. The sauces complementedthe chicken’s slight curry flavor very well, especially the peanut sauce. Persikov and Waltfeld both gave the dish an A+.

Four chicken tenders later, the entrees arrived. Persikov opted for the cashew delight with chicken, “prepared spicy” ($10.95 dinner price “stir-fried roasted chili paste with cashew nuts, pineapple, carrots, scallions, bell peppers and onions.”) Persikov tried this dish, as it was an old favorite of his—a selection of vegetables and chicken stir-fried in a spicy sauce. While the texture of the meat and vegetables was a superb blend of tenderness and crunchiness, he was disappointed in the relative mildness, giving the entrée a B+.

“I’m not really sure how Tuk Tuk can justify giving this dish a one-chili-pepper spiciness rating on the menu,” criticized Persikov.

“Speak for yourself, you **** **** ****…!” exclaimed Waltfeld, letting a stream of unprintable expletives as he reached for the peanut sauce dish left over from the chicken satay. Waltfeld had ordered the Pad Kee Mao Drunken Noodles with combination seafood, “prepared mild” ($15.95 dinner price “wide rice noodles stir-fried with egg, fresh chili, bell peppers, onions, green beans and basil leaves.”)

After quenching with his afflicted taste buds with the soothing peanut sauce, Waltfeld calmed down enough to objectively rate the dish.

“Well, apart from the spiciness, I did enjoy the sweetness of the noodles’ sauce and seasoning and the generous portion sizes of the scallops and the mussels. It’s rare for a restaurant to serve good sized scallops and mussels since the smaller ones are cheaper. So the bigger fishes were much appreciated. The noodles themselves weren’t overly chewy and they certainly absorbed a lot of the sauce and flavor. That upside is also a downside in that it also absorbed a lot of the spices. If this was their definition of mild, I don’t want to know about extra spicy. I’m docking a few points for the spice level to end up at a B+.”

Persikov concurred on the generosity of the scallop size. “It’s as if they were blown up with some sort of sci-fi growth ray.  Incidentally, what kind of vodka are they using for the drunken noodles?”

After a lengthy discussion about what was and was not in the drunken noodles, a curious Persikov took a quick sample. “It’s not bad. Could be spicier though.  How does this comport with a two-chili-pepper rating?”

“**** you.”

With the main course finished, Persikov looked amusedly at a sweat-drenched Waltfeld, who had finished off the peanut sauce, three glasses of water, and Persikov’s bowl of white rice in an endeavor to cool off his burning tongue.  His mood brightened considerably upon the arrival of the fried ice cream ($5), a large scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in deep-fried pastry dough, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.  The ice cream disappeared quickly as the two demolished it in a matter of bites.

“I wonder how they keep the ice cream from melting inside the deep-fat fryer,” mused Persikov idly.  Waltfeld shrugged and continued scrounging up the remainder of the dessert.  The reviewers gave it an A.

`As the two requested their check, they reflected on how to rate the overall restaurant experience.  The ambiance was very warm and inviting; the Thai décor made the place seem that much more authentic.  The space is, however, somewhat small, making it perhaps a less optimal choice for seating larger parties.

The service was markedly faster than that of many of Tuk Tuk’s Hanover rivals, bucking a consistent trend in TDR Reviews.

Price-wise, the Thai restaurant did not exceed nor did it disappoint expectations; the dishes seemed to cost a comparable amount to other mid-level Hanover restaurants.  They were also quite enjoyable, especially the chicken satay. Both the cashew chicken and the drunken noodles had great flavors and very appropriate portions.

Be wary when ordering the spicy items as the chef’s definition of mild or extra spicy may differ from your own. We encourage anyone who likes Thai cuisine to try the place—although those with nut allergies should take note—and go ahead and tuck in.