Thai cuisine is amazing. Everyone knows that. The spicy yet refreshing blend of spices, the creamy flavor of coconut milk, and the fresh pop of flash fried vegetables add up to make an enchanting mix. When done right…. and it isn’t easy to do right. So it was myself and three friends headed up the hill towards Dalmaji, with a heady mixture of excitement and trepidation.
Dal Thai is a cinch to find, it appears just as you crest Dalmaji hill, and is right beneath the imposing Bubbas, and next door to a GS25 convenience store. The outside is plain and simple, but it’s when you walk through the door that the real charm begins. The interior is very kitsch and cutesy. Coloured lanterns hang from the ceiling. Grinning statues give you a huge thumbs-up, beckoning you inside, where intriguing wall art catches the eye as you are shown to your seat. All-in-all it makes for an unusual space that breaks the minimalist mold many Korean establishments aspire to these days. I found it delightfully refreshing.
Next came the menu. Having spent some time in Thailand, my eye instantly started to look for some old favourites I enjoyed in the past. Pad Thai was there, as was Somtam, alongside other staples such as Goong Nad Prik. The menu is adorned with pictures of the food. Normally, I abhor this practice, as the pictures always wash out over time and make the food look hugely unappetizing. However, considering the menu is all in Korean, it may prove useful if you can’t speak the language. Dal Thai also have a selection of Thai liquors and beers, including the obligatory Chang and Singha.
We ordered a feast. Somtam (sliced papaya salad with peanuts), Goong nad Prik (Battered deep fried prawns with a sweet and sour style sauce), Gui Tiaow Tom Yam (Noodle in sour broth with mixed seafood), Pad See Ew (Pork and egg noodle stir fry), and Pat Pad Thai (Chicken and prawn noodle stir fry), along with four rice.
First, I must mention the service. The food all came out within ten minutes of each other. Second it was all piping hot. Third, the waiter was friendly and attentive. These may seem like basics, but I have been amazed recently at how often they have been neglected. Not so at Dal Thai, I was able to pick and choose from the selection of hot dishes that all came to our table promptly. Excellent.
Now, onto the food. The Somtam was just as I remembered. Fresh, juicy papaya, julienned with crunchy veg and a sharp dressing. It makes an excellent aacompaniment to so many Thai dishes and is highly recommended. The prawns in the Goong Nad Prik were huge, juicy things, and they were cooked well. The only let down for me was the sauce, it was a touch gloopy, and I would have liked more spice.
The Pad See Ew and The Pat Pad Thai are similar dishes, and both were authentic and delicious. Slippery noodles and generous helpings of meat, with perfect seasoning and tasty sauce. Especially pleasing was the crushed chili and peanuts adorning the Pad Thai. The chili gave it a nice heat, which I remembered fondly from days by the beach in Thailand.
Lastly, the Gui Tiaow Tom Yam was the standout dish. This is one of the classic Thai soups, and the balance of ingredients needed to get the fantastic flavor they have achieved at Dal Thai is not easy. I know because I have tried! It was a steaming, heady broth of lemongrass, galangal, chili, coconut milk and ginger that was just a delight. Add big juicy mussels, shrimp and rings of squid and I would order this again next time for sure.
The dishes come in at around 14-16,000 won. This may seem a little expensive, but they come on large dishes, and they are extremely generous with the servings of meat and seafood in the dishes. With a drink each, our bill came to 97,000 won for four people, and we were absolutely stuffed. You could easily feed four hungry people with three main dishes and some rice. We were just feeling greedy!
If you haven’t paid Dal Thai a visit yet I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The authenticity of the dishes shines through, and in a landscape where cheap chain restaurants continue to pile up around us, that’s something to be valued.
How to get there:
Dal Thai is easy to find. From the East side of Haeundae beach, take a walk up Dalmaji-gil, until you come to the crest of the hill. Dal Thai will be immediately on your left.
Filed under: Food Tagged: busan, busan food, Food, korea, korean food, noodles, restaurant, restaurant review, review, spicy, thai, thai food, thailand