In September 2015, a bus crashed into Thai Crystal and made a right mess of the frontage. The owner, Nim Hoy, had already lived through much worse – her family was killed in the 2006 tsunami. Ever since then, the wife and I have wanted to eat there in some weird show of support and solidarity.
Thai Crystal is the smallest of two Thai restaurants on Westow Hill and it’s the cosier (some would say dingier) of the pair. The ceilings are lower, there’s much less natural light and the decor is way more beige, but the place has a warm, friendly feel to it. The homely atmosphere is really brought to life by the staff though. Three different people took our order, delivered our food and checked in on us, and each one of them shared a few words and really seemed to care that we were having a good time.
After the obligatory prawn crackers I started with a hot and spicy chicken and tomato broth that was both hot and spicy (so many are one without the other). It came in a small bowl but it was substantial and warming – not something I needed on this humid evening, but something I definitely enjoyed.
My drunken noodle jay (egg noodle with tofu) was less spicy than advertised but perfectly serviceable. The squidgy tofu had proper flavour to it and the carrot sculptures on the side of the plate were delightful. The olive in the salad felt out of place though, a refugee from Lorenzo down the road perhaps?
As good as the food was, my greatest compliment goes to the staff. In my experience, Asian restaurants are usually terrible at dealing with gluten-free diets – they either don’t know what gluten is and have no idea whether their dishes contain it, or they confidently tell you everything is fine only for the wife to suffer the symptoms of a gluten hit an hour after leaving. Not only are the menus at Thai Crystal clearly labelled for all manner of allergies, but our waiter took it upon herself to check with the kitchen to see if the soy sauce contained wheat (it did). Top marks from my wheat-intolerant wife.