The service at Ploy Thai was good and warm, and the atmosphere was quiet and comfortable. The food, on the other hand, did not elevate itself higher than any other random Thai restaurant in the area.
My wife and I have had the fortune of experiencing some wonderful Thai cuisine in many other cities around the country, and so we are aware of how amazingly exotic and exquisite it can be.
Therefore, we find it quite sad that there seems to be a specific pattern of Thai food preparation around the State of Florida. All Thai restaurants we have visited around the State (and we have tried many) seem to follow the same bland recipes: The curries are watered down instead of thick and rich, the meats are overcooked and tasteless, the appetizers are greasy and insipid, and the variety of vegetable included in most dishes are usually of the frozen kind. For a culture that is known for its spicy, complex, and exotic cuisine, Thai food in Florida seems rather subdued in its translation.
Even asking for the food to be "extra spicy", means just showering it with dry chili flakes, instead of intensifying the mixture of spices or at least using fresh chilies.
Unfortunately, Ploy Thai follows this trend. It is slightly better than most, in that the ingredients at least seemed fresh, but the preparation is still in the same by-the-numbers fashion.
The Tom Kha Gai soup (cocoanut milk broth with chicken and lemon grass) was not bad, but the chicken seemed to have been fully cooked before adding it to the broth as an after-thought, giving it a rubbery texture with absolutely no flavour. The fresh Spring Rolls were wrapped in over-soaked tapioca-paper sheets (instead of rice-paper) which were too large for the rolls, giving them a strange, gummy texture and obscuring the flavour of the ingredients. The Crab Rangoon appetizer was over-fried and greasy; the wrappers were too thick, and the crab filling was not cooked properly. The Panang Curry was watered down (bombarded with dry chili flakes for that "extra spicy" quality!), and the seafood was overcooked, separately, and just added to the curry on completion. The Chicken Cashew dish, although having fresh cashews, had also rubbery and flavourless meat, and the sauce seemed to be plain Chinese Hoisin sauce--the kind that comes in a jar.
It is very unfortunate that we did not enjoy the food, for the service was wonderful, and the atmosphere was intimate and quiet, and would do well for a nice romantic occasion. However, we will not be going back to the Ploy Thai, and would not recommend it to our friends.
For those who enjoy the typical Thai cuisine available in the Tampa Bay area, the Ploy Thai may offer a better value, atmosphere, quality, and service than many others.
But for those with a more discriminate palate, who have experience the exotic complexity of excellent Thai food in other cities around the world, you may want to skip the Ploy Thai restaurant.
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