Amarin Thai

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We've been going to Amarin Thai for years, as Mike loves Thai food and he used to work in Alameda. However, for some reason or another we had not dined there for quite a while and when we went back a Sunday night in Feb. 2002, we were a little bit surprised to find it in a new location (right next door to the old one), with a new look and a slightly different menu.

The new place is nice though a little bit too generic to suit my style; it reminded me a bit of a cruise ship or retirement home dining room. It has one main dining room with walls painted in slightly dark pastel colors and another one a few steps down closer to the kitchen. The curved, blue upholstered chairs, soon to become dated, are pretty nice and give the place a slight chicness that it would otherwise lack. A wooden statute of a Thai woman, a few frames with Thai stamps and a fish pond provide the only hint that the place serves Thai food. Still, it's not a bad place to eat.

Amarin's menu is comparable to other Thai restaurants, though there are a few variations. Masaman curry, for example, comes only in a chicken version here - though it's usually made with beef elsewhere. Similarly, you can only get panang curry with beef. Prices are a little bit on the high side for a Thai restaurant - appetizers are $5 to $7.25, salads $6-7 and entrees start at $7.50 for vegetarian, $8 for meat and $9 for seafood. Even pad thai is $8.50.

As we visited during the middle of February, the regular menu was complimented by a special Valentine's Day menu featuring a couple of appetizers and entrees at higher-than-usual prices.

Mike and I decided on an order of beef satay ($6 for 5 skewers), panang curry ($9) and the "chicken lover's delight" ($11) from the Valentine's menu. This last dish consisted of half a chicken breast topped with a peanut sauce and another half topped with a "choo-chee" sauce and accompanied by snow peas and carrots. We accompanied all with rice ($1 per person). Mike had a couple of diet cokes ($1.25 each) and I tried the Thai ice coffee ($1.50).

I didn't like the ice coffee very much (but then again, this was the first time I'd tried Thai ice coffee), but pretty much everything else was quite good. The beef satay was very flavorful and nicely spiced, though a little bit chewy. It overwhelmed the peanut sauce, however, as the latter was quite subtle in flavor. Still, a very satisfying dish.

The panang curry, which tasted as expected, was delicious - I'm looking forward to having it again. We also liked the "chicken lover's delight," - I particularly enjoyed the "choo-chee" sauce. The chicken, however, was a little bit dry and bland - it could use some spices of its own.

I felt most of the food was rather spicy, but Mike disagreed and attributed my spice-sensitivity to my pregnant state.

For dessert we shared the fried banana with coconut ice cream ($4). It was a pretty good version of this dish, the banana was hot and crispy, the ice cream cooling and not too sweet.

All in all we had a great dinner and we're sure to go back soon.

Amartin Thai
1332-C Park St.