Monday, July 8, 2013

SPIN Modern Thai

Way up in Cedar Park, amid the concrete flyovers and strip malls is SPIN Modern Thai, brought to us by veterans of Uchi and East Side King. Like the name suggests, they're putting a twist on traditional Thai food, and fortunately for those of us who are Thai enthusiasts, they are doing a very good job.

So what happens when three food bloggers and a spouse venture far from their South Austin homes in search of good food? And what happens when one of those bloggers who is taking pictures of the front door gets asked (in a friendly, congenial manner) by the host upon entering the establishment "Why are you taking pictures?" and the blogger (NOT me!) blurts out "We're food bloggers!". Well, so much for the sneak attack! We had a good laugh over this, and I think all three of us normally prefer to go to restaurants we are going to blog about "incognito" if you will, so we can judge the food as an ordinary patron. We were not expecting star treatment at SPIN, but the manager sent us his best waiter, and we were very well taken care of the entire meal.

We started with cocktails, in the back, the Thai basil mint white sangria, the tamarind lime mimosa, and pineapple mint sake. I enjoyed my tamarind drink very much, and we all agreed the sake was spectacular.
We started with a trio of appetizers, the fried Brussels sprouts, which were a little under done (still crunchy) and the sweet corn taro tempura with a sweet chili vinaigrette. Great flavor in the vinaigrette, but the tempura was a bit greasy. Also the moo ping, marinated pork with a Thai chili dipping sauce; I could have eaten my weight in these! Nicely grilled pork which had a ton of flavor on its own, but the sauce was a nice compliment to it as well.
For my main dish, I had the Pad Cha Soft Shell Crab, which was crispy soft shell crab with basil, cilantro,  green peppercorns, with a lightly sweet and spicy chili sauce. It was delicious. Such a nice burst of texture and flavor. I Tweeted this photo, and then subsequently showed it to a bunch of foodie friends, including a Thai friend who hasn't been to SPIN. Pretty much they were all drooling.
We also had at the table the Clay Pot Hot Pot with head-on shrimp, glass noodles, bacon, and a raw egg on top that the server mixes into the ceramic pot. There was a wonderful smokiness to the dish; I don't know if that just came from the bacon or if there was anything else giving it that flavor, but it was a savory and wonderful taste.
The Rib Ping, char-grilled pork ribs with a hoisin-like glaze on them. These were three very meaty spare ribs, with a side of balsamic glazed onions. There was a spiciness to the pork that was a little unexpected, as there were no "chile pepper" spiciness indicators on the menu.
And the Tiger Cry, which was asked for with a bit of extra spice, which it had! It's grilled beef sirloin, with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, radishes, onions, and toasted rice powder. I've had this dish at other Thai restaurants before, and this was a very nice approach, especially given the warm weather, more of a salad than a heavier beef dish.
Pretty much stuffed at this point, we were going to pass on dessert, but our very gracious hosts had other ideas in mind. They sent us two of their desserts, a coconut panna cotta with lemon gelee and a trio of ice creams (lychee, Thai tea, and chocolate). I was very impressed that the lychee ice cream ACTUALLY tasted like lychee! It and the Thai tea were my favorites.
I have heard outstanding things from foodies and professional food critics about SPIN in their year they've been open, so I don't think the high quality food or service that we experienced was too far from the norm. Overall an outstanding experience both food and service, and my only regret is that SPIN is in Cedar Park. I don't know when I will get back up there again, but it was absolutely worth the drive.