Royal Thai Inc. - Greenville, SC
at 11:00 AM
At the suggestion of a loyal follower of Strugglinghomebrewer, I finally made my way over to Royal Thai on Old Mauldin Road in Greenville to see if they could make me sweat. I walked into a half filled front dinning room around 12:15 on a Friday afternoon and was quickly greeted by, well the only employee I ever saw the entire hour I was there. He just pointed to the corner, and I obeyed and sat down. This man was running around with his head chopped off the entire time, and finally greeted me some 15 minutes later. Very nice man, maybe a language barrier, but nothing that wasn't manageable. The inside was a bit dirty and run down. The table tops where held together with Scotch tape and the walls looked like they could use a good steam cleaning. The floor was filthy and the booths were in some dire need of repair, maybe beyond repair and should get tossed out with the trash. It was tolerable, but they have a ton of room for improvement that could get first time customers to return.
While I was sitting and sitting and waiting and waiting, I noticed the table of 4 sitting just in-front of me acting a little strange. The one man, trapped on the inside of a small booth with four adults was about to pass out. He was bright red in the face and had sweat pouring down from his balding head. He was wiggling back and fourth and appeared to be very uncomfortable. Maybe it was something he ate or that he needed more water to make the burn intensify more. Well after he stopped eating and 15 minutes or so passed, he started to complain to the other diners that it was way to ridiculously hot and that he didn't understand why it had to be so hot and that he basically accused the restaurant of "trying to kill him". This is when I knew, even before I ordered that I was going to be in for a real treat.
After my water was delivered I proceed to place my order. I went with the Thai Basil with chicken and Soup (Hot and Sour was the soup of the day). Upon ordering, I made sure to ask for it to be spicy. He immediately replied with a 6 and started to walk away. I stopped him and asked him to explain how the heat scale works and what he would consider to be Thai Hot for this type of dish and then I asked him for just one level spicier. In the end, my dish was ordered at a heat level of 8. My soup arrived, and it wasn't very good. It had an off taste to it, almost a plastic scent that ruined it for me. It also had about 5 or 6 crunchy things that reminded me of animal bones that were unpleasant. I'm sure they were some sort of Chinese noodle or fried tempura or something, but it was weird to me. My Hot and Sour soup should not go crunch. I did however overhear another couple talking about how you have to come in on Tuesdays for the Tom Yum. I got excited when I heard this as I have not had good Tom Yum since August when I was out of town.
Finally, my meal arrived, but I cannot complain as the man running the joint did warn me that it may be a little while. I always do appreciate honestly from a restaurant server who prepares me prior to putting my order in if it is going to take a little longer than normal to prepare my food. This just tells me that they are not going to sacrifice quality for quantity. The fresh basil smelled so good that I couldn't wait to dig in. I was now pissed at this point in my meal, not at the restaurant or anything they had done, but the fact that what I had in front of me looked and smelled so good, it was too DAMN hot (hot hot, not spicy hot) to eat. After awhile had passed, it had finally cooled down to a manageable temperature.
This Thai dish is the BEST Thai dish I have had in over a year. It was absolutely the perfect spice level for me and even made me sweat a little. The chicken was not dried out like everything I have found in the Upstate thus far and the ratio to chicken and veggies was perfect. It had more flavors going on in this one dish than anything I was ever used too. Every bite brought on a new flavor and opened up senses that I have never encountered. Lets just say that the chicken dish was that damn good, I have had dreams about it already.
Bottom-Line, after trying 7 different Thai restaurants in the Upstate, this place is by far the clear winner of the most truly authentic Thai cuisine. Well maybe not the most authentic as I have never been to Thailand, but in taste, quality and most enjoyable Thai dish, it is the clear stand-out for me. It also helps that it is located in the strip mall right next door to the Upstate's Home brewing store, Grapes and Grains. For me, I will still continue to try out all of the other Thai restaurants out there, but I will be making frequent stops to Royal Thai Incorporated every time I need to make a stop at Grapes and Grains for some supplies.
Does anyone else have a good recommendation for a good Thai restaurant located in the Upstate? They are very difficult to find as they all seem to be located just off the beaten path enough that unless you know about them, they are non-existent. Thai restaurants are also very difficult to research online as very few have actual web sites or any reviews about them. Lets try to change this.