Walking into Fo Thai for the first time, I was briefly disoriented. In addition to the very dark setting, I wondered if I was in Las Vegas or at Epcot Center in Florida’s Disney World complex. When I asked the hostess where the bathroom was, she told me to go “past the Buddha and over the bridge”. Along the way, I passed exotic flowers, tented seating areas in the lounge and, oh yea, that Buddha.
The bathrooms are equally unique. Though the common area is unisex, the toilets and urinals are enclosed in little stalls that the user closes off by pulling a rounded door reminiscent of a cattle door on a rail car. It took longer than I was in there for my eyes to adjust to the dark lighting, and I never did see where my used paper towel was supposed to land after washing my hands.
I suspect everyone who first experiences Fo Thai concentrates the dialogue on the bathrooms, but food is served here as well. Beautifully presented, ours was also well-explained by our server. Lunch is a simpler affair than dinner; Featured Selections come with a featured appetizer and iced or hot tea. The appetizers are served family-style–it’s a good thing we were happy to do so though we weren’t ask if we were sharing. We chose 7 spice calamari with mango salsa, and vegetable spring rolls, a substitution for the Curry Chicken spring roll on the menu. Though I couldn’t identify the sauce that came with it, I could have easily spooned it by itself had I not been in polite company. The calamari was very light, greaseless and perfectly cooked, though if there were 7 spices, I missed all of them.
Our server steered me toward the Pad Thai rather than the Red Curry Noodle soup with shrimp, clams, mussels, tofu and long beans in coconut curry broth. He said it was more traditional than others around town, so I decided to give it a try. I ordered it hot, which I would probably equate with medium at the Thai Place. Though not saucy like the Thai Place’s version, it had a nice flavor and the veggie version came with crisp pea pods and tofu.
The wok stir-fried shrimp with Thai basil soy glaze has received a fair amount of coverage, perhaps because the shrimp are plump and tasty. As advertised, the sauce really is a glaze and would have been a bit overpowering on its own–it needed the rice that comes with the dish to soak some of it up.
I chose to go at lunch because of the chatter I had heard about the evening experience. I know it’s much louder and more expensive at dinnertime, but after the pleasant hour we spent at lunch, I may just check it out for myself.