The Oldsmar area continues to grow, and with the population growth comes more choices for cuisine outside the usual chains and fast food restaurants.
In this case, the cuisine in question is Thai – a good choice for any area.
North Tampa residents have been lucky to have a plethora of choices along north Dale Mabry. Now, it's spread to the northwest as well.
Located in a strip center across Tampa Road from the Oldsmar Flea Market, Pacific Thai Cuisine offers a solid and sometimes spectacular selection.
When we went on a recent Saturday evening, the parking lot was packed thanks to a team of Little Leaguers who descended on the wing place next door. We found parking around the back of the strip center.
Inside the restaurant has soothing Asian décor, about a dozen tables and a small bar with a flat screen. Thankfully the television was muted so the only sound was the gurgling of a fountain and Thai melodies playing in the background.
Service at the family-run restaurant, which has been open for about three years, was friendly and attentive. They offered recommendations and explained heat levels of available entrees. All entrees were beautifully plated, with orchids.
We started with a couple of Thai beers, steamed dumplings, fresh summer rolls and Nam Sod.
The steamed dumplings were wonton purses stuffed with ground pork, shrimp, dry mushroom, water chestnut, onion and bamboo shoot. They came a half dozen to the order, had a mild smoky flavor and are served with a soy-based dipping sauce.
The fresh summer rolls are two rice paper wrapped rolls stuffed with white meat chicken, shrimp, lettuce, carrot, rice noodle, cucumber and fresh basil leaves. They are cut in half for serving, making four nuggets. Served with a peanut sauce for dipping, the rolls tasted of fresh basil and cucumber.
The delicious Nam Sod – a salad of cooked ground pork mixed with ginger, peanuts, onions and bell peppers on top of a bed of crispy iceberg - is large enough for a meal. The spicy lemon dressing makes this dish a standout.
For entrees we recommend the Pad Thai. Available with a choice of chicken, seafood or vegetables, the entrée is cooked to the guests requested spice level and features a large plate of rice noodles sauteed with egg, bean sprouts, green onions and ground peanuts.
For peanut butter lovers, the Vegetables Amazing entrée features steamed broccoli, peppers, onions, and other mixed vegetables topped with Thai peanut sauce and scallions and served with a side of white rice.
For a richer meal, both to the wallet and palette, the Duck with Basil Sauce is a restaurant specialty, and worth the extra price. The boneless duck breast remained crispy, even when combined with the mixed vegetables and spicy basil sauce.
Overall, Pacific Thai Cuisine provides a solid choice for Thai, while a few dishes – particularly the Pad Thai and Nam Sod – are standouts. For both dining in and carry out, it's a welcome addition to an area that is becoming more diverse in its culinary offerings.