It’s been a while since we’ve sat down for a good look at a Binghamton-area restaurant. I’ve been so busy gallivanting all over the country, and believe me, it’s not about to stop anytime soon. In the coming weeks, I’ll be bringing you tastes of Philadelphia, Charleston, Manchester, NH and Amsterdam! But a new Asian food gem has opened in downtown Binghamton, just across the street from “the city club,” or Binghamton Club, and we need to talk about it. And then you need to go to there.
It’s called Thai Time, and is very cute inside, with warm wood tones and red and yellow trimmed accents. They don’t have a liquor license, so if you require some wine to go with your pad thai, make sure to bring your own. They also seem to do a pretty brisk takeout business, and they cater as well.
Melinda and I went a few weeks ago, and received prior advice from my friend DeDe that the curry puffs from the appetizer list were not to be missed. The tender, marinated minced chicken, potatoes and onion in little pastry dough shells were delightful and had a good amount of curry spice without too much of the funk that can sometimes accompany potato/curry dishes. Each bite provided a delicate crunch and warm savoriness from the spice.
Our other appetizer was the Thai crispy spring rolls, which were a little boring in comparison to the puffs. These were the standard Thai restaurant iteration, with glass noodles and a satisfying crisp when you bit down. The sweet chile sauce alongside was the vital component to this dish, lending needed acid, heat and flavor.
Before we were done savoring the curry puffs, one of my restaurant pet peeves happened: the entrees came out, just minutes after our appetizers had hit the table. I never understand this – you need to wait to fire the entrees, if they’re quick-cooking, until the patrons are done or nearly so with their appetizer course! There also were no chopsticks offered, which would have been appreciated, and for the noodle entrees we ordered, there was nothing on the side. I assume if you get one of the chef specials or entrees, a bowl of white rice comes out alongside, but I feel like there should be the equivalent of a bread basket at all restaurants. There was no equivalent here.
I ordered the pad see aew, described on the menu as stir fried egg noodles with egg, broccoli, snow peas, onion and baby corn in sweet soy. It was savory and sweet, as promised, the noodles firm without being too al dente. The veggies were very crisp, but the sauce was the star, with just the tiniest hint of spice that built as you ate it. At the pinnacle of the meal, my mouth was on fire in a pleasing way, dancing with the complex flavors of this dish.
Melinda ordered her Thai standby favorite: drunken noodles. This dish is described on the menu as shrimp and chicken stir fried rice noodles with egg, baby corn, mushroom, broccoli, string bean, carrot, peppers, onion and basil. It also has three tiny, Thai chiles demarcating that this dish is spicy. Indeed, drunken noodles bring the spice to the party in an authoritative way. The heat was much more up front in this sauce, savory, a bit tart, but balanced, with the Asian hallmarks of salty, sweet, sour, and spice all working together. A stunner. Both dishes provided generous servings as well.
We ended our meal with the fried ice cream, which I do not recommend. We didn’t even eat it all – it was that odd. Rather than a crispy coating of corn flakes or an egg roll wrapper, the shell was a pound cake-like substance, which had absorbed a good deal of the oil in which it was fried. Not yummy, at all. Overall, we rated Thai Time at a seven on the BHS scale. While the entrees and curry puffs were very good, the few idiosyncrasies just didn’t add up to an outstanding meal. I will eat here again, and I would absolutely get take out if I lived in Binghamton. I’d like to try the spicy eggplant and fried rice next time around, although it will be hard not to order those great noodles. They were so comforting and hearty.
Prior to dinner, we checked out the new lounge at Lost Dog Café, in the space next door previously occupied by The Hair Co. The new room is eclectic and very downtown, keeping with Lost Dog’s aesthetic, only a little brighter and swankier. Stop by here for a nouveau cocktail, like a cucumber martini or a yummy mojito:
For my Northcountry peeps, I also did manage to hit up River Dogs, in Clayton, when I was up for Miss TI a few weeks back. First off, I have to say Morgan and I had some of the friendliest service I have ever experienced from the lovely woman at the counter, who I took to be the owner. That said, I found the food to be pretty ordinary. Good, but ordinary. I was expecting my dog, with sauerkraut, bacon and cheese, to be bursting with flavor, but everything got kind of muddled and muddy. The dog didn’t have tremendous snap, and there was no predominant, strong flavor to the end result. Same with the onion rings, which were most certainly a frozen product – fine, but ordinary. An OK respite if you want to hop out of your boat for a minute and grab a bite, but there are much more unique eats to be had in Clayton.
That’s it from the fair land of Big Hungry this week, folks. I’m off to Charleston next week and am desperately trying to wrangle a reservation at Husk for dinner. Wish me luck, as this joint is named in just about every Southern food publication and blog as the best place ever, and it’s looking mighty booked up next week. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!