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Zab Thai Kitchen
10667 Loveland-Madeira Road Loveland, Ohio 45140
Zab Thai Kitchen is Loveland’s new Asian offering. Situated in a strip plaza just east of 275 it’s easily missed. The sign is impossible for me to read from the road. Just look for a big fire orange scribbled sign, that would be it. Locals will remember the spot as the last and only Asian restaurant in town, a very poor one. Pathetic to say the least in fact.
Walking in you’re in a contrast of colors. Fire orange walls are offset and surrounded with dark muted one’s. Several large colorful prints pop the otherwise stark blank room. Fire orange twine globes hang over the tables, diffusing a single hanging bulb. With handiness, this could have been an easy remodel. The look borders on Ikea hip. The music is trance-rave.
The look is modern, so I was afraid the food would be some sort of fusion which I never prefer over classic traditional, especially when it comes to Asian. Here in our city, few even have ever experienced any true traditional Asian whatsoever. To simply skip the traditional and skip forward to fusion with never knowing the original, you have no real perspective. Besides the traditional flavors always seem to be more memorable than fusion foolishness. Take Cumin for example. Go there to eat, fine. Go there craving paneer saag, (or anything Indian), leave disappointed. Now and then someone hits a winner, but mostly, fusion falls flat.
Would the knives in the Zab kitchen be sharpened for a cutting edge approach, or are they deftly mincing age old recipes into magnificent form? I had concerns. But, it was lunch time so prices were cheap. If I ended up with some skimpy trying-to-be-fancy meaningless meal, I’d not stress about it.
The menu offered a sign of hope. Appetizers, soups, salads, noodles, rice, stir fry, curries and specialties all featured authentic items, and few twists. On the app order I chose por pia sod (fresh spring rolls $4). Cucumber, alfalfa sprout, lettuce, tamago (egg pancake) and tofu are rolled up sushi tight in a raw spring roll wrapper (rice paper). The tamarind sauce gave it most of it’s flavor. The wrapper tasted too raw to me and all in all, it was lack luster. Fusion I suspect. Maybe not, maybe it’s served all over Thailand in country kitchens and backyard barbecues. Somehow I doubt it. Thai cuisine has so incredibly much more to offer I can’t see them bothering with this cold “spring roll”. I could be wrong.
My co-conspirator ordered tod man goong (shrimp cakes $5). Finely minced shrimp were formed into a patty, breaded with a light & crispy penko breading and fried perfect. They came with a cucumber sweet & sour sauce that way more sweet than sour. Aside from the sauce were worth re-ordering for certain.
For entrees, I went with a kaeng pah (yellow curry $6). Cubed potato, onion, tofu (my choice) and green onion get simmered in a thick yellow/green curry. Served with rice, you dump it over the rice plate and enjoy (at least I do). The sauce was aligned with authentic flavors. Bites of rich sauce, half a forkful of rice and a last second stick to a potato chunk proved both filling and flavorful. No doubt healthy too. My spice level three was more of a one and half, but it was forgivable because it was flavorful.
The other entree was the kee mao (basil noodles $6). Wide noodles, mixed vegetables and tofu (the meat choice) were hot wok fried and sauced with a Thai basil chili sauce. The ordered spice level of four was followed by a warning from the server. It was merited. I love hot, but even I admit a five would be too much for most, or at least for many. Four was right on.
The dish was much like other Thai fried noodle dishes, except the noodles themselves. These looked mysteriously like spring roll wrappers. I could almost swear to it. They were good, very light and transparently thin. The fiery sauce wasn’t over used and the crispness of the veggies stood out as fresh. Also worth re-ordering. Hell of a take out order.
The bulk of the menu does reflect an effort to serve traditional Thai. Braised beef & chicken, tempura sweet & sour white fish, red curry duck, three varieties of noodles, steamed or seared dumplings plus a plethora of curries all sound worthy of an order.
Zab did a good job keeping the prices low, apps are $3-5, salads $5-8, lunch entrees are $6-7, dinners run $9-15. Each and every menu item does look interesting. Zab Chef Paendin “Toon” Yongkanaysin cooks with precision and traditional flavors. Her dishes were above par, even the one we didn’t care for. It wasn’t our thing but it was done well. Beluga partner Srinuan “Cindy” Yantarasri is no doubt responsible for the chic room and modern music. Just like the room’s colors, the two create a stark contrast against one another. Cindy makes you feel like your in for a four course (two bites per) $50 per person NY Thai fusion finesse dinner. Then, Chef Toon sets you back at ease with her Thai comfort food and comfortable prices. It’s really a win win. The feel of Hyde Park exclusivity at the price of a local China City take out joint. They’ll need that in Loveland. With no Asian whatsoever other than the new Zab, I’d say Loveland needs them too.
Zab Thai Kitchen is open Monday - Thursday Lunch 11am - 3pm Dinner 5pm - 9:30pm
Friday - Saturday Lunch 11am - 3pm Dinner 5pm - 10:30pm. Sunday Closed
See more at www.zabthaikitchen.com
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