The Cheapskate Date likes to watch his pennies when he eats out around the neighbourhood but he combines that with high standards. I am more tolerant of deficiencies at the lower end of the market but together we continue to search for the holy grail – cheap, tasty, well presented cuisine.
This search brought us to the doors of Ruen Place in Commercial Road, Teneriffe last Friday night. We walked in to be hit by fumes of chilli and deep frying coming from the open kitchen in the corner of the restaurant. This explained why the folding door at the front of the restaurant was left open to the cold air.
The restaurant, seating about 30, was three quarters full and there were a steady stream of locals coming by to pick up Friday night takeaway. While the Cheapskate Date checked the napery and turned over the plates to check provenance, I checked out the menu. It covered the usual Thai range – soups, curries, stir fries and noodle dishes. The Date spent so much time feeling the weight of the tablecloth and raising a eyebrow at the paper napkin, the long suffering waitress stopped by three times before he was ready to order.
For entree we ordered the fish cakes and a Tom Yum soup with chicken. The fish cakes ($6.50) were slightly overcooked but the eye-dabbing chilli sauce compensated. The Tom Yum ($7.50) didn’t hit that hot, salty, sour balance with an over-enthusiastic flavouring of fish sauce. For mains we shared a Thai Beef Salad ($13.90) and a Duck Curry Penang ($13.90). The Duck Curry was flavoursome with slices of pumpkin adding to the mellow flavour but the Beef Salad was the most disappointing dish of the evening. Again the hot, sour salty dressing was way out of balance with too much fish sauce and combined with the acrid taste of the oil used for frying the food left an unpleasant aftertaste.
Thai food is all about balance and that doesn’t cost anything to achieve. The basics are in place for Ruen Place to be a good, local Thai restaurant but to achieve that they will need to take more care with presenting the flavours which are the hallmark of Thai cuisine.