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Jai Thai, Affordable, exquisite Thai cuisine

Date Posted: 2003-05-17

For those of you who aren't too familiar with Thai food but who like Southeast Asian cuisine, Jai Thai is the place for you. If you love Thai food but have never been to Jai Thai, then you don't know what you are missing. "If you have eaten Thai food in Thailand before, then you have to eat at Jai Thai," says Tanaka-san, manager of Mihama's Jai Thai.

With two other branches located in Tokyo's Ebisu Garden Place and in Kichijyouji, the restaurant's fame is continuing to grow among Japanese and foreigners alike. Jai Thai boasts that in Tokyo they regularly cater parties for the Thai Embassy, which reports that the food is excellent. Once you walk through the door and experience the excellent service and sample the delicious fare, you will understand why this restaurant could easily be rated with five stars.

If this expensive-sounding introduction is scaring you away, then you're in for a surprise. Between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. their weekday lunch sets are only 800 to 1,000. Their Saturday, Sunday and holiday lunch sets run from 800 to 900 between 11:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Sound too good to be true? Wait till you actually taste their food. You will be as sold on it as I was after trying some of their famous dishes for my interview.

I had the pleasure of sampling Tom Yam Kung, or sour and spicy prawn soup (small 1,200, large 2,000); Kaeng Khiao Wan, or Thai green curry with coconut milk (small 1,100, large 1,600); Somtam, which is a spicy papaya salad (1,000); Po-Pia Sod, or fresh rice paper rolls served with chili sauce (two pieces 550, four for 980); Khanom Charn, a dessert made with cassava flour, rice flour and sugar (300); and roast chicken with Thai sauce (whole chicken 1,500/half 800/quarter 500) - just a handful of the many offerings on their menu. I was in heaven with each bite.

The roast chicken was my personal favorite. If you want to have some famous Thai Singha beer with your chicken, you can order their roast chicken set, which comes with a quarter chicken and a glass of beer for only 880. Jai Thai caters to their customers' preferences by making vegetarian meals or mild dishes for people who can't tolerate too much spice. Just be sure you make your special needs perfectly clear, and they will be happy to oblige.

Some of the other favorites on the menu are Yam Tale, a spicy seafood salad (1,200); Kao Op Sapparot, which is fried rice with pineapple (1,500); Phat Bai Kapraokai, or stir-fried chicken and basil (1,000); Phat Phet, stir-fried beef with hot curry (1,000); Phat Khana Namman Hoi, stir-fried kale in oyster sauce (1,000); Wunsen Phat Khai, or stir-fried vermicelli with pork, crab and egg (980); and Pla Thot -- fried white pomfret served with chili sauce (1,200), to name just a few.

If you have a hard time choosing what to eat for lunch or dinner, you can order the Jai Thai Special Set, which comes with the chef's choice of salad, fried appetizer, a barbecued dish, rice, noodles, soup and a drink for only 1,300. This set is also highly recommended for parties booked at Jai Thai, for which you should order in advance to ensure quick service. Be very specific about vegetarian meals or other special requests you may have so they can be sure to fully accommodate you. Jai Thai will also provide buffets for parties at a cost of 2,500 per person.

Dinner starts at 5:00 p.m., with the last order taken at 11:00 p.m., but the restaurant is open until midnight. Jai Thai is located on the second floor of Carnival Park Mihama. For reservations call 098-936-0828.

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