TupTim Thai, Brunswick GA

This is Marie, making the first of a couple of contributions from a side trip I made independently. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was this one place that I went with my father that really ought to have included Grant to help out. We needed more plates on the table to taste from, and an additional person to make one more appetizer practical.

TupTim Thai in Brunswick is one of those little places at the edge of a neglected strip mall that you miss if you don’t already know how to find it. After my first visit about four years ago I had actually put this on the list of places to take Grant at the next opportunity. The first time, I relied on my memory of where it was. That would normally be enough, but I never saw it; I didn’t realize that coming from out of town one needs to be looking in exactly the right direction and facing backwards in order to catch a glimpse of the place. Since that’s not a normal driving position, of course we passed it by.

The second time we made the attempt was on a different trip and we actually intended to stop on the way out of town and even checked the location first, but still managed to be looking in the wrong direction when we passed by, and since we didn’t have time to search and also eat, we kept going. I’m not sure exactly how long ago that was, and the web site doesn’t include when they started the restaurant.

It’s got a cute set of plants and a little fountain out front that takes the edge off the encroaching rather grim atmosphere (not a bad part of town, just neglected). However, once through the door you are in a completely different environment. The tables have intricately folded cloth napkins in the water glasses, real place mats, and shawls under the glass covers that add color. The walls are covered in almost parquet-intricate woodwork, and there isn’t a single cheesy plastic tasseled dragon lamp to be seen. There are rather more staff than I saw at my original visit, when one guy appeared to be doing everything except cook, so I hope the place is doing well.

My father and I shared an appetizer of chicken satay with peanut sauce, and I want that peanut sauce badly. The meat is tender, flavorful, and juicy even though it’s exceptionally thin; if it weren’t a criminal waste of sauce, I could happily eat the chicken on a stick all by itself. With the sauce it’s divine. The sauce itself has only the barest hint of heat, but is absolutely full of flavor. They don’t give very much, unfortunately; by the time you’ve scooped up the last smear of sauce with your last sliver of chicken, there’s none left to use on your entree, should you have hoped to stretch it that far. There’s a little pickled cucumber salad that comes with the satay, and it’s probably just as good, but the peanut sauce took up all my attention.

Dad selected Pad Prik and I decided on Pad Thai. I’ve found that even though that is a terribly ordinary favorite (and therefore I try not to order it terribly often), it’s made differently everywhere, so there’s always something entertaining and different to appreciate. This is one of the best I’ve had. They really work on presentation here, and the dishes are beautiful as well as delicious.

The spice level of medium is what many would probably consider to be just on the high side of mild, so if you are partial to a pronounced and lasting tingle, you will need to go hotter. The staff is clearly used to American aversion to overly spicy food judging by their answers to my dad’s questions about how hot was hot; I would hate to hear the cook’s comments when originally planning the mild dishes. We both got medium and were happy with it, but could have gone hotter. On some later visit I would like to try a “spicy” dish to see whether it’s just one level up, or more true to the volcanic nature of so many varieties of tropical cuisine.

We each got a dessert as well, though we could not really fit much more. Dad got the fried banana; it was a quite elegant little snack, with small chunks of banana wrapped in something as thin as a sheet of phyllo, then fried. I got the mango ice cream. Both were excellent, but I think Dad got the better end of that deal.

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