Layton and Kaysville in Davis County are pretty far from being Meccas for foodies. I would estimate roughly that there are a dozen chain/franchise eateries for every single independent restaurant there. From Sonic and Arby’s to Moe’s Southwest Grill and Red Lobster, fast casual and fast food franchises litter the landscape. There are some notable exceptions however, like Weller’s Bistro, Blue Fin Tuna, Red Fort Cuisine of India, Roosters, Little Taste of Britain, Holy Smokes BBQ, Osaka Sushi, Aconcagua, and a handful of others. Well, now we can add to that latter list a newish restaurant called W. Thai Chef.
Situated in a Kaysville strip mall on 200 North, W. Thai Chef is primarily a takeout operation, although there is seating for 20 or so people indoors and a couple of small sidewalk tables outside. But the vast majority of food sales at W. Thai Chef are for takeout, placed either on-the-spot or via their very efficient online ordering system.
My wife and I have utilized online ordering at W. Thai Chef numerous times and have been very happy with the results – our food has been ready to pick up precisely at the requested time. The first time I visited, however, I placed an order in person on a busy Friday evening and waited more than 45 minutes to get our food. So I highly recommend online ordering. If you do choose to order in person, you’ll do so from a computerized self-serve kiosk in the front of the restaurant and there’s often a line waiting to get to it, so be forewarned.
The restaurant – W. Thai Chef – is named for Thai native Winai Ketbot, who originally migrated to Utah as a Buddhist missionary. He’s a very friendly, soft-spoken fellow, which you might expect from a Buddhist missionary. His menu is fairly limited. In an interview with my food writer colleague Valerie Phillips for the Standard-Examiner, the Cordon Bleu trained chef said, “We kept the menu small so we could execute it well.” And they do. We’ve been very pleased with the quality of the food at W. Thai Chef and at the relatively low pricing.
There are a half-dozen or so appetizers on the menu, including veggie egg rolls, shrimp tempura, fried tofu, edamame, and something called karee pastry: pastry dough stuffed with crunchy chicken or sweet yellow bean paste. I suspect it’s not exactly authentic Thai cuisine, but one of the more popular appetizers at W. Thai Chef is “Golden Bags,” which are cream cheese-stuffed wonton wrappers. Is cream cheese a thing in Thailand? We like the nicely crisped Chinese-style chicken dumplings ($6.95), which are an order of six pieces with a soy-based dipping sauce alongside. Appetizers range in price from $4 for edamame to $8 for the shrimp tempura.
There are gluten-free and vegetarian dishes on the W. Thai Chef menu, including a Papaya Salad ($10.95) that Chef Ketbot created with fresh carrot, papaya, tomato, green beans, peanuts, and lime juice. Other salads include a ground pork salad ($11.95) with tomato, cucumber, scallions, onion, lettuce, lime juice, and carrot, and a beef salad ($12.95) with the same additional ingredients. There are two soup choices: tom kha chicken ($7) or tom yum shrimp ($7.95).
A common noodle dish eaten in Thailand is pad see ew, which means “stir-fried soy sauce noodles” and is popular among street food vendors in that country. I really like Chef Ketbot’s version, which is thick, wide rice noodles bathed in a hearty soy-based sauce, stir-fried with crinkle cut carrots, scrambled egg, and crunchy broccoli. As with many of the dishes at W. Thai Chef customers can select a meat/protein choice (or none if that’s their preference) from shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, or a combination.
Most of W. Thai Chef’s dishes can be ordered spicy or not, based on a 0 to 5 level heat scale. We haven’t ordered anything at level 5 yet, but 3 or 4 are plenty spicy. If you prefer no spiciness, order 0. I’d never eaten spicy fried rice before, but my wife and I really enjoyed the zippy spice level 4 Thai chicken fried rice ($10.95) we had for takeout recently. It was a generous portion of wok-fried jasmine rice with egg, peas, carrot, scallion, and onion. Additional fried rice options include spicy basil fried rice ($10.95), pineapple fried rice ($10.95), and combo fried rice ($14.95) with shrimp, beef and chicken.
The word “pad” in the Thai language means stir-fried, which is why there are so many dishes on Thai restaurant menus with the word pad in them. The noodle dish called pad Thai is ubiquitous here in America, but I’m told it’s also very popular in Thailand. W. Thai Chef’s version is very good. The last time we ordered it we had it with chicken. Fettuccine-size rice noodles are stir-fried and tossed in a tangy sauce with eggs, green onion, and bean sprouts, with a generous amount of protein (shrimp, tofu, chicken, beef or pork). Drunken Noodles ($10.95) are also served at W. Thai Chef; it’s a dish similar to pad see ew but which also contains bell peppers, basil, and tomato.
The Thai curries at W. Thai Chef taste to me like they are made in-house from scratch – fresh, fragrant, and delicious. Choices include green curry, red curry, pineapple curry, yellow curry, massaman curry, and panang curry. All of the curries are $10.95 and include a large portion of white rice. I like all of the curries we’ve tried but especially the massaman curry, which is a coconut milk based broth with curry spices, potato pieces, peanuts, and shrimp for protein, in our case.
One of the more unique dishes from Chef Ketbot’s kitchen is called pad ka pao ($10.95). It is a very generous serving of ground pork stir-fried with onion, red and green bell pepper, and Thai basil. It’s a hearty, delectable dish atop mounds of rice. The next time I’ll order the optional crisp fried egg served on top.
I am thankful for immigrants like Chef Winai Ketbot – cooks who bring unique flavors to our shores and help to challenge our well worn culinary habits. After all, how many burgers or pizzas can you eat in a week? W. Thai Chef provides a delicious alternative to the same old, same old.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week: “Food makes travel so exceptional, because you get to taste what it’s actually supposed to taste like. To eat the real Pad Thai or finally have a proper curry is something pretty amazing.” – Meghan Markle
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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