“Hey, there’s a vegetarian place. Do you want to eat there?” It’s amazing how many people will go out of their way to make sure their vegetarian friends have something to eat. So far out of their way, in fact, as to change plans based on an observation from the car on the way to meet people for lunch. That’s how Best Thai on Belt Line entered the VICC radar. Of course we met our party at the predetermined location, but any place that lists “Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine” on the signage is worth a look. And, as we discovered, this one is worth multiple returns.

Appetizers:

EdamameEdamame ($3.95) comes lightly salted, which is a refreshing alternative to crunchy sea salt crystals falling to the bottom of the plate. Here, the chef uses only enough salt to bring out the natural flavor of the bean.

Tofu SatayThe tofu satay ($5.95 for four pieces) is grilled with crispy edges and the peanut sauce comes on the side. The sauce is creamy and serving it separately allows the texture of the semi-soft tofu to stand out. The crispy exterior against an interior the consistency of scrambled eggs join the sauce and cucumber accompaniments naturally.

Crispy Veggie Spring RollsFried in vegetable oil (yes, we asked), the crispy veggie spring roll lives up to its name. It is extremely crispy – to the point of the skin flaking off on the plate. These are the size of standard egg rolls and filled with cabbage, glass noodles and other mild vegetables. This low-key flavor allows the sweet sauce to drive the dish. At $4.95 for four, these are a deal. Be sure to have your napkin ready because they are greasy and the vegetable oil may well drip down your arm.

Main course:

Soy Ham and Pineapple Fried RiceFrom the vegan menu, which is an entire page long, the pineapple fried rice with soy ham ($9.95) gained attention. The soy ham has a Tofurky-like texture with a little veggie bacon flavor. If you’ve ever tried Veat products, this tastes very much like those. The combination of pineapple, soy ham, and onions gives this dish an enjoyable Polynesian flavor. Because it is vegan, the dish has no egg. It also lacks the over-use of soy sauce so many fried rice options maintain. The rice is mildly sticky, making it easy to pick up small amounts of each ingredient with your fork for a “perfect bite” experience.

Pad See Ew with Soy SquidSoy squid is also available in dishes on the vegan menu and the waiter had no problem adding it to the pad see ew ($9.95) from the regular menu for us. This we ordered with egg, but vegans can order it without. It is sweet and wonderful. The soy squid is “surprisingly squiddy,” according to one person at our table. The texture is something akin to a cross between a mushroom and a water chestnut and it tastes like a grilled mushroom. Noodles, of course, are always the main pad see ew attraction and these are no exception. Large, flat noodles piled on the plate, surrounded with vegetables and coated in the sweet sauce make this dish worth the trip.

Massaman Curry with TofuFinally, this wouldn’t be a Thai review without curry. While many massaman curries contain fish sauce, the waitress said theirs is vegetarian, so we tried it. Ordered at a “one,” this had no noticeable spice level. Perhaps the best massaman to date, this is creamier than most and there is a peanut flavor throughout the curry. While the peanuts always give off some flavor, this tastes almost like there is a little peanut sauce mixed into the curry paste and coconut milk. With fresh vegetables and tofu, this $9.95 dish is perhaps the biggest reason to return. And, for our friends who enjoy a little chicken or beef in their curry, Best Thai offers the standard selection of meats as well.

The atmosphere at Best Thai is mostly quiet and calm. The staff members are courteous and helpful and the decorations of woods and metals add to an overall relaxed evening feeling. That being said, there is one long strip of half booth/half table section running down the center of the restaurant that puts diners at eye level with parking lot headlights. The low backing on the booth side allows tables sitting back to back to hear each other’s conversations as if they are in the same party. “So y’all ate buffalo and y’all ate yak?” coming from the table behind us was a little surprising, but we chalked it up to the evening’s entertainment. If there is a choice, the booths on the far side of the restaurant from the entrance are the most quiet and allow for more private conversation.

Overall, the food is incredible, with three of four of us finding a “best” of a favorite dish. And with a vegetarian buffet offered on the first Sunday of the month and multiple locations throughout the Metroplex, Best Thai definitely earned its place on the “visit frequently” list.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for: Pass the cheese, please.