After my disappointing experience trying to get Thai food the previous day (see my review earlier this month for Masse), I was still craving Thai cuisine. This is how I made my way to Urban Thai on Dagu Road for a do-over, and thankfully, I got what I was looking for.
We showed up at 3pm on a Sunday, so we were the only ones eating. Decor is relatively refined and Thai-influenced but isn't stuffy at all. The lighting was a bit dark for me but would probably have been fine for a dinner. The server was attentive and quick, and food came out of the kitchen very quickly. We ordered a green mango salad, pad thai, penang curry and pork with basil. To summarize concisely:
Mango salad: Was refreshing and tasty, with good seasoning. My only complaint is that the green mango itself wasn't particularly flavorful; the taste of the dish was mostly coming from the dressing.
Pad thai: Was exactly what I was looking for. The sauce was rich and savory but not too sweet, the shrimp were perfectly cooked (plump and juicy) and the slice of lime squeezed over the noodles cut through the savory sauce and provided perfect balance for the dish. This is the standard of pad thai I'm looking for when I crave pad thai.
Penang curry: Was a knockout dish as well. The spices, coconut milk, and chilis were perfectly balanced. The chicken was soft and the sauce was rich and unctuous, filling your whole mouth with flavor that would linger for a while after just a single bite.
Stir-fried pork with basil: I didn't enjoy this dish. The pork mince was stir-fried in relatively large chunks and the basil leaves were oil-fried and sprinkled over the top of the pork, instead of being mixed in with the pork mince. The pork itself was very greasy and the fried basil leaves had no flavor whatsoever...only texture, so they added nothing to what was basically a dish of greasy stir-fried pork. It was an odd dish to serve, considering how far off it is from the way this dish is served in Thailand, and also considering how good the rest of the food was. This one bad dish resulted in my final assessment of 4 stars instead of 5.
The final bill came out to about 280 RMB for 2, which is pretty normal for Thai food in Shanghai, so no complaints here. Almost everything was tasty and the price is lower than the likes of Mi Thai, Thai Gallery, or Home Thai, which are my other well-visited Thai haunts around down. I'm sure I'll be back.
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