Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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In and Out

Dining_ThaiVillage.HotPlateWhen I was younger, an occasional buffet meal was an opportunity to gorge myself on the less healthy foods that I rarely saw at home. Like piles of bacon and a table-full of desserts. Now I appreciate buffets as a quick lunch stop. The new Thai Village restaurant in the King's Village Shopping Center offers a small, fresh buffet ($8.95) that was well-attended by local Seagate employees last week.

The sweet Thai Iced Tea ($2), wonderfully flavored with star anise, was traditionally topped with milk. On such a scorching hot day, I ordered a second without the dairy and it was just as refreshing. Crisp romaine salad with purple cabbage and carrots was served with a very nice lightly spiced peanut sauce dressing, accompanied by cantaloupe and watermelon wedges.

The day's soup, made with coconut milk, included mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, tofu and onion, and had an appetizing dill pickle-like aroma.

The eight-dish hot plate table included both steamed rice, and fried rice with vegetables and bean sprouts. The Basil Chicken entrée was perhaps my favorite. Wilted tender stems of basil added a licorice-like flavor to the spicy chicken cooked with Thai chili garlic sauce.

The mildly spicy Chicken Pad King was also nice, its vegetables stir-fried with bamboo shoots and plenty of ginger strips. A tofu version of Pad King was also available.

On the table, in addition to soy sauce was a bottle of sriracha hot sauce, as well as a salted, puréed red chili paste, which I used liberally on the Masaman curry, yellow with turmeric, which included dark meat chicken and vegetables.

I scored the last of the tempura-like battered and deep-fried vegetables, which had become mushy, but the spicy sweet and sour sauce was a real treat.

Thai Village, 218 G., Mount Herman Road in King's Village Shopping Center., Scotts Valley, 43-81800. Beer and wine. 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dine-in and take-out.
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