In case you missed it, I’m reposting reviews from my time at the Monterey Herald every Tuesday. Here’s my review of Marina’s D’Anna Thai Kitchen that appeared in the Go! section of the Monterey Herald on November 21, 2012.
From taquerias to trattorias, my reviews for The Herald have spanned the globe. But I’ve noticed a rather curious omission — Thai food.
So as the sun sets on my time at The Herald, I figured the time was ripe to visit one of the locals’ favorite Thai restaurants, Marina’s D’Anna Thai Kitchen.
Tucked away off Del Monte Boulevard, D’Anna Thai Kitchen has a fierce local following. Several of my foodie friends consider it the best Thai restaurant in town. After two dinners there this weekend, I’m starting to see why.
Among the appetizers, the fresh rolls — with grilled chicken and vegetables in rice paper ($7.95) — were my favorite.
I appreciated that D’Anna Thai Kitchen omitted the clichéd chunk of cucumber and gave the mix of lettuce, Thai basil and mint the spotlight instead. The bold flavors teased the palate of great food to come.
The deep-fried corn cakes ($4.95) were surprisingly light. I loved the texture — crispy outside, with pops of sweet corn kernels.
The honey pork — grilled pork marinated in Thai honey sauce ($9.95) — was a disappointment. I found the texture too gritty and the dipping sauce overly acidic.
Likewise, the fish cakes ($6.95) missed the mark. The flavor was nice — slightly salty with a hint of heat — but the cakes were too thin and a tad greasy.
Over two visits, I sampled traditional Thai dishes — noodles and curry.
The classic pad Thai (chicken, $8.95) was a little sweet for me and next time I’ll order it spicy to rein in those sweeter notes.
I preferred the Kai Kour — pan-fried rice noodles with egg, cabbage, onion, carrot and bean sprouts (chicken, $8.95).
The thin noodles literally melted in my mouth with each bite. The flavors were so clean, providing a filling feast that didn’t leave a heavy, stuffed feeling. I loved the combination of textures — the delicate noodles, crunchy cabbage, tender carrots.
I tried both the panang curry (chicken, $10.95) and the pumpkin and artichoke curry (chicken, $10.95).
The panang curry — with chicken, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, kaffir leaves and basil — had great depth of flavor. It was a little light on chicken in favor of green beans, but my mum always says I need to eat more veggies.
The texture of the pumpkin curry was a little strange at first, pairing soft pumpkin with stringy artichoke hearts. But the flavors were sublime. Without any hesitation, I poured out the last of the curry onto a heaping mound of sticky rice ($2) and gobbled it up.
The menu at D’Anna Thai Kitchen also includes several dishes borrowed from other Asian cuisines — you’ll find kung pao alongside curry.
The orange duck with crispy noodles and steamed bok choy ($14.95) was quite tasty. The sweet orange sauce was the perfect pairing with the bitter baby bok choy. And I loved the little bit of crunch from the crispy noodles underneath.
I appreciated the Thai twist on fried rice and noodles — the bold punch of basil in the basil fried rice (pork, $8.95) or the sweet yellow curry in the Singapore noodles (chicken, $8.95).
And I couldn’t resist ordering the sweet sticky rice with mango ($5.95) to cleanse my palate. The creamy coconut milk and sweet mango made a lovely combination.
My dinners at D’Anna Thai Kitchen have handily pulled me out of my Thai food rut. I’m eager to return and sample more of the menu — claypot dishes, soft-shell crab fried rice and stuffed calamari were just a few of the selections still tempting my palate.
D’Anna Thai Kitchen is at 210 Reindollar Ave. in Marina. 883-9399. www.dannathaikitchen.com.