The South End Online, January 14, 2009
Sala Thai: Plum Good
Photos by Matt Gulley
Tucked away in an otherwise empty corner of Eastern Market, Sala Thai delivers excellent service, a sprawling menu, and an intimate atmosphere. Located on the corner of Russel and Erskine Streets, in an old firehouse.
I had been to Sala Thai a few times before, and the thing that I remembered was the large portions. Make no mistake, the entrees, which range from $9 to $14, are large, and any fried rice dishes are presented as literal mountains of food. I always end up taking some home with me.
My waitress was Starr, who was as quick with a joke as she was with a recommendation. She advised me to get the F5 pineapple fried rice. I had it with pork.
The greasy goodness that is familiar to all lovers of fried rice is served well by the accentuation of pulpy citrus. An appetizer of Tom Yum soup with shrimp was a warm prelude. It was spicy without being too spicy.
A generous portion of Chicken Pad Thai.
Having reached the age of 21 recently, I was intrigued to sample an adult beverage or seven. Starr, again with an excellent recommendation, guided me towards the Fuki Plum wine, which was $8 a glass. Well worth it.
It was sweet, without the dryness of a chardonnay or a Riesling. It was like drinking diamonds. I cannot recommend this wine highly enough. I had two glasses with dinner and its exquisite juicy sweetness was a fabulous accompaniment to the hearty rice and pork.
Wayne State sophmore Robyn Goldberg, who had ordered a #32 four-piece sampler of Nigiri sushi, (#32 is custom made, Goldberg having chosen a piece of eel, smoked salmon, octopus and red tuna) proclaimed the red tuna to be “bland”, the salmon “great”, and the standout eel “unique, delicious and salty,” adding that it tasted “very alive.”
When I asked her to elaborate, she offered that “it tastes like it was alive very recently.”
I returned again less than two weeks later to try more dishes. Once again, Starr was my server. The saying goes that variety is the spice of life, but I could not bring myself to try anything other than the Fuki Plum wine, as far as drinks go.
This go around I had, as my entree, the # 14 Seafood Combo. It was a curry with shrimp, imitation crab and a separate plate of rice. For this dish, I found it best to mix the curry with a giant heaping of rice.
Wayne State junior Ben Sturley ordered the N1 Chicken Pad Thai, but could not be reached for comment as he could not stop eating. He was able to provide a significant thumbs up in the meantime.
The choice seating inside Sala Thai is most definitely the booths that line the south wall of the restaurant. These attractive wooden booths could seat as many as six, but still feels cozy with two.
The other server working that night was none other than Wayne State sophomore Emily Howard. She provided a possible slogan for Sala Thai: “We will spice you up.”
When asked for her personal recommendations, she highlighted the #2 Gaeng Pak veggie curry and more emphatically, the “Oh my God roll” which contains cream cheese, salmon, tuna, white tuna, and red snapper, wrapped in crispy rice and served with eel sauce.
It’s called the “Oh my God roll” because when people try it, they, well, you get it.