Tag Archives: Thai food

Eating Nice at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas

Ginger and Spice in Marble Falls, TexasGinger and Spice on Foodio54

Ginger & Spice on Urbanspoon

It’s a goofy headline, but it’s true. You will eat nice at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas. If you dig Thai and sushi, Ginger & Spice fits the bill. As you know, Thai and sushi are two of my favorite cuisines.

The first time we scouted Ginger & Spice for a potential foodie review, we did take out. The food was fantastic. I told Afriel that we had to go back when we could eat in. (Of course, my motivation was to try the sushi.) Afriel agreed, and recently we were able to eat lunch at Ginger & Spice.

Gotta say, like many places in Marble Falls, the parking sucks. It’s a shame, because the little dining establishments are trying to make a living and yet customers face terrible parking situations. We asked what people do during busy times. We were told that folks can park across the street. There is a small lot situated across the street from Ginger & Spice, but it fills quickly. We had to park down the street in front of an insurance office. I must say that Ginger & Spice’s staff were extremely apologetic about the parking situation. I only asked because it’s of interest to me. I like seeing how businesses overcome weaknesses, and how businesses respond to situations that are challenges. Ginger & Spice gets a gold star for rising to the occasion and acknowledging the problem and apologizing. Doesn’t make the problem go away, and who knows how parking will be handled as Marble Falls grows, but at least the folks running the business are aware that parking is an issue.

Once we were seated, we told our waitress that we were bloggers who would write about our experiences. She was extremely gracious, and remained that way throughout our meal. We don’t always mention that we’re writers when we eat out, and in most cases, when we do, it’s as we are paying the bill. In this case, I have to say Ginger & Spice was phenomenal. All the staff were as courteous and congenial as when we ordered take out during our prior visit. I am a big appreciator of consistency in customer service.

The salad bar was open, and that intrigued me. For an additional but nominal cost, I could frequent the salad bar for salad, sushi rolls, soup, fruit, and various appetizers. It was amusing to see that the menu specified “In order to keep our costs down, we ask that customers do not eat only the appetizer bar with the intention of taking you [sic] entree home!!! (only small box can be given)”. Course, I was raised in a very strict world of manners and culture: You don’t take more than you can eat, you don’t feed others your food, etc. I have to wonder what happens, in Marble Falls, when people have access to the salad bar at Ginger & Spice. Do people not mind their manners? It’s pretty darn sad when Ginger & Spice has to spell out how the salad bar works.

I asked Afriel to come to the salad bar so she could snap a few photos and check out what was offered. The salad bar was less than I expected, but probably more than some people would care for. It was nothing fancy, but the salad bar contained the staples you would expect. More so, there were a few items I definitely want to check out during our next visit to Ginger & Spice.

Salad bar sampling at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas.
Salad bar sampling. From left to right: spring roll, vegetable tempura, and sushi rolls. At the top, rice pudding with fruit.

The tom jerd with tofu soup was ah-mazing! It’s an Asian version of chicken soup, and one of those ultimate comfort foods the hedonist within me loves to indulge in. I told Afriel that I definitely would want tom jerd with tofu if I were sick with a chest cold. The broth was simple yet savory with a deep, nourishing touch. There’s nothing that stood out about the soup yet it was so damn comforting! Total yummy goodness.

Tom Jerd with Tofu soup at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas
Tom Jerd with Tofu soup

Big kudos to Ginger and Spice’s chef for the soup. It was excellent!

Afriel ordered from the lunch menu. She had the Saigon noodles, which she jealousy guarded from my wandering chopsticks. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a bite of this luscious bowl of noodles, but judging from Afriel’s expressions while she ate, the meal was absolutely delicious. In case you’ve never had an Asian dish like this, you pour the little bowl of sauce over the noodles. Utterly good, ya’ll.

Saigon noodles at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas
Saigon noodles

I read a review that the sushi at Ginger & Spice wasn’t as fresh as it could be. Well, coming from the experience of eating sushi fresh off the boat, why in the hell would you expect a Marble Falls eatery to have sushi as fresh as what you’d get in Seattle? Comparing the sushi I’ve eaten when I’ve traveled to Seattle to what I can eat in Marble Falls isn’t fair. Comparing the sushi I ate at Ginger & Spice to what I pick up at HEB is a fair comparison. It may even be fair to compare Ginger & Spice to my fav Austin sushi bar, Uchi.

I ordered the spicy tuna roll and the chef’s choice 7-piece sushi platter. My sushi platter actually came with an additional nigiri, which I was delighted to find. A girl can never have too much sushi! If you aren’t sure which sushi is what, this site has a great guide. And no, I didn’t eat the nigiri with my fingers (this visit), although sometimes I do!

Spicy tuna roll at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas
Spicy tuna roll

I can honestly say, the spicy tuna roll and chef’s choice sushi was wonderful. The roll was freshly made, everything smelled delish, and the texture and cut of the nigiri was spot on. I could see the food was prepared with care and love. Would I get it again? Heck yeah, and I plan on it for the Big Grey Horse Media Christmas Party. It’s an annual tradition, ya’ll!

Chef's choice sushi at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas
Chef’s choice sushi with salad

I admit that I’m tough to please. Thai and sushi are my two favorite cuisines, and I am fortunate to have eaten both cuisines at some of the best eateries in America. I’m picky as hell and at this point, I inwardly cringe, just a little, when it’s time to try a new restaurant. I gotta relay the note I wrote in my iPhone after I’d finished my lunch at Ginger & Spice.

The note simply said, “This was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a long, long time.”

Kudos, Ginger & Spice. You hit the nail on the head with this one!

Click here for our pictorial review of Ginger & Spice.

 

Takeaway

Ginger & Spice is located at 909 Second Street in Marble Falls, Texas, 78645. The phone number is 830/693-7171. The hours of operation for lunch are Monday thru Friday, 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The hours of operation for dinner are Monday thru Thursday, 5:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.; Friday thru Saturday, 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.; Sunday 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Thai Food at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

Aranya Restaurant on Foodio54

Aranya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I’ll be the first to say that Thai food and a gas station is not a combination that makes my appetite rumble. Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas, is the exception, however. In its early stages, there was no restaurant. You ordered Thai food from a small kitchen that was run out of a corner in the gas station’s store.

Recently, we were coming back from the barn Newspaper Taxi is boarded at. Being the hungry, horsey girls that we are, we decided on Thai take out from Aranya Restaurant. I ordered cheese rolls, garlic chicken, and sticky rice with Thai egg custard. I hadn’t had any breakfast that day and it was around noon that we picked up our order. The staff was extremely pleasant (as usual). It took great discipline to not ravish through the entire meal while I photographed our food.

The cheese rolls were savory and creamy with thin shavings of cooked carrot inside. I know the rolls are made with cream cheese, but I can’t place the other seasonings. The sweet and sour sauce that accompanied the rolls had just the right amount of kick at the end.

Cheese Rolls at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

One of the great things about the garlic chicken entree is the perfect portions of meat, vegetables, and rice. There is not too much or too little of the three. Even after the hour I had to wait before I could devour this dish, the meal was still perfectly warm. The chicken was tender and the sauce was savory with a light sweetness.

Garlic chicken with steamed rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I can’t describe in words how amazing the Thai egg custard is. I don’t even understand how it’s humanly possible to get the egg so smooth. It’s a creamy puree that is buttery with brown sugar sweetness. The sticky rice is chewy and the white sauce is a salty, coconut milk mixture that balanced the sweetness from the egg. This is a must if you’re a salty/sweet lover.

Thai egg custard with sticky rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I’ve always been pleased with the food we’ve received, whether dining in or taking out, at Aranya Restaurant. Burnet doesn’t not have much ethnic dining, and Aranya is a little gem in town. When you’re in the mood for more than fast food, Tex-Mex, or the regular country diner, then Aranya Restaurant is the place to go.

Laura’s Perspective

My lunch included a huge serving of Thai fried rice with chicken. The flavors of this dish are subtle, but it has undertones of sweet and smoky, making this a nice mixture. When I’m confused about which dish to choose at a Thai restaurant, I typically go for a fried rice. It’s hard to mess this dish up.

Thai fried rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I love the combination of chopped green onion, tomato slices laid around serving platter, chicken strips, white onion, and scrambled egg. Aranya does a good job of not skimping on the chicken pieces. Nor is the dish overwhelmed by large pieces of your meat choice. I hate eating fried rice with meat chunks so large the rice and veggies get lost.

My lunch special came with an egg roll. It was decent, and the crispiness lasted throughout our long ride home. I really dig the sweet and spicy sauce I shared with Afriel…it’s made for cheese rolls but sure tastes good with egg rolls.

Aranya’s Thai tea is divine and offers a nice jolt of caffeine. Typically, I polish off the Thai tea before I get home, but that’s okay. It’s a rare treat that I enjoy.

Takeaway:

I’ve liked and promoted Aranya Restaurant in Burnet since its inception. This is another small but growing business I hope everyone checks out. The customer service is superb and cannot be beat. From taking your order correctly to helping you take large to-go orders to your car, the staff is marvelous.

Aranya Restaurant is located at 1015 E. Polk St. (Hwy 29), Burnet, Texas, 78611. The phone number is 512/756-1927. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Thai Niyom Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas

Enter Thai Niyom Restaurant on the right side.
Enter Thai Niyom Restaurant on the right side.

Thai Niyom Restaurant on Foodio54

Thai Niyom on Urbanspoon
Long ago and far away, a small, yellow gas station located on Hwy 281 in Marble Falls, Texas, began serving Thai food to hungry patrons. I moved to Sunrise Beach in late 1996, and sorely missed the opportunities city living afforded. It had been so easy, so convenient, to pick up any ethnic food I wanted on the way home from work. I was on the hunt for something I could sink my teeth into, an ethnic food that would satisfy my yearnings for the extraordinary.

Not too long after I moved to the Highland Lakes area, LBJ Food Mart, the yellow, unassuming gas station, started making magic in a small, hot kitchen. Was this the answer to my prayers?

I made my way over to try give this dive a whirl. To my surprise, the food was some of the best Thai food I’d ever eaten…just as authentic as the good Thai restaurants in Austin. For years, I spread the word about the yellow gas station and its marvelous dishes, encouraging others to try it out.

Mind you, this happened at a time when most folks in the Highland Lakes area were happy to eat Americanized Chinese food at China Kitchen. Not many people were interested in something as exotic as Thai food, much less from a gas station. In small towns, however, word spreads fast. And if you’re good, well, you’re a rock star.

Earlier this spring, I called the gas station to see if the cook was in town and serving  hungry patrons (she makes trips back to her native country at least once a year). I was told that she was opening her own restaurant. Lucky me!

This month, my daughter and I made the journey to Thai Niyom. The restaurant is not so conveniently located next door to the Texaco gas station at the intersection of FM 1431 and Hwy 281. You enter by a side door as the front door is not accessible. However, there are small parking areas on the right side of the building and in the back.

We went to Thai Niyom restaurant on two separate occasions. Unfortunately, both the owner and the cook were not available for an interview. Also, both the owner and infamous “mama” who cooks did not want their last names used for this piece. However, I was told that Orathai is the cook, and her daughter, Khanittha, is the owner of Thai Niyom.

Geow Teow Gai with Shrimp
Geow Teow Gai with Shrimp

My long-time, favorite dish by Orathai is the geuw teow gai. I’ve tried like hell to find a recipe for this dish, exactly as Orathai cooks it, and have come up empty handed. I order my geuw teow gai as medium spicy, and sometimes I forgo the bean sprouts. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken. This flat noodle dish is to die for!

Phad Thai is my daughter’s favorite, and she prefers it cooked by Orathai over any other Thai restaurant we’ve frequented. Orathai makes it about as authentic as it comes. There’s no greasy residue or red coating like you’ll find on some Phad Thai. We’ve had this dish with both chicken and shrimp, and I’ve ventured to have it vegetarian, too.

You cannot visit Thai Niyom without having an order (or two) of the baby rolls. These bite-sized, tiny rolls are the epitome of Thai heaven, I think. This is another recipe I’ve search high and low for, without avail. What I do know is each roll is about three inches long and is packed with ground meat and carrots. The rolls come with a slightly spicy, sweet sauce that’s great for dipping. Top off the baby rolls with a few drops of Rooster (as my family lovingly calls Sriracha hot chili sauce), and you’re good to go.

Cheese rolls and baby rolls with a spicy, sweet sauce.
Cheese rolls and baby rolls with a spicy, sweet sauce.

The cheese rolls are very good, too. This is a two-roll appetizer filled with a warm cream cheese and carrot mixture. I detect hints of garlic and perhaps a bit of onion in this roll, which is wrapped in rice paper and fried to a crispy, golden brown. The same dipping sauce you get with the baby rolls accompanies the cheese rolls.

Our waitress, Jessica, suggested on our second visit that we try the egg rolls. She quickly explained that these were not ordinary Chinese rolls. Evidently Orathai used to serve a more traditional Chinese egg roll, the type filled with cabbage, meat, and veggies. Since I adore egg rolls, I was game to try them out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Instead of cabbage, Orathai uses glass noodles. The rolls are wrapped in rice paper and deep fried to a crispy, delicate texture and served with the spicy, sweet sauce.

We also gave the kaw-phad pineapple fried rice a go. My daughter was interested in trying out a fried rice with pineapple chunks. Among a sea of well-seasoned rice, pineapple chunks, shrimp, and pieces of chicken, you found chunks of ham. This is a dish we could have shared by itself and been perfectly happy with.

Just to top off the order, my daughter wanted an entree of cashew chicken. Although my daughter ended up not eating many of the bamboo shoots, the dish was very good. It had a rich, smoky flavor reminiscent of the toasted cashews with a bit of sesame thrown in. A thin, brown sauce flowed into the mound of steamed rice next to the chicken. Yum!

If you love Thai food, give Thai Niyom restaurant a go. Staff are friendly and helpful, and service is prompt. The restaurant is clean and comfortable. I await the day when I can meet Orathai! That’s my new goal, as well as re-visiting some of her curry dishes. I’ve smiled and thanked her through the ordering window at LBJ Food Mart, and I hope to see her again someday soon.

You rock, Orathai!

A separate pictorial post will soon be posted with photos of the various dishes we sampled.

Takeaway

Thai Niyom Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and features six entrees served with an egg roll, soup, and steamed or fried rice. Dinner is served Monday thru Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Alcohol is not served by the restaurant, but you can BYOB. Thai Niyom Restaurant is located at 909 Hwy 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654. The phone number is (830) 693-1526.