Monday, September 20, 2010


This is in no way a first timer review for Jebby and I on Tuk Tuk. This majestic palace of all things delicious has been visited by our notorious bellies numerous times before and said bellies have always left happy and full. So here is a little taste of what we tasted at Tuk Tuk Thai.

Jebby’s Meal: Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) & Thai Iced Tea
            Thai restaurants are ubiquitous in Portland, nearly as plentiful as hobos, fixed-gear bicycles or moustache tattoos.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get an unforgettable meal. If you’re not, you’ll get an ass-rending case of the Hershey squirts and have to waddle about your business for the rest of the day. I have found through years of trial and extremely unpleasant error that red curry is a safe dish to order. Even if you find yourself at a bad Thai restaurant, red curry is almost never worse than mediocre, because it’s hard to go wrong with curry paste and coconut milk. Of course, ordering seafood in your red curry is inviting disaster, but I usually do that anyway.
Over our many years of Thai restaurant experimentation, Abbe and I have fallen into something of a red curry rut. Even at restaurants that we know are good, we usually both order it every time we go. On this particular occasion, we decided that it was in the best interest of the blog to order different meals, for the purpose of being able to offer a broader review. I volunteered to order something else, but looking over the menu filled me with a sense of dread. Would the pad thai be ketchupy? Would the tom yum give me food poisoning? My eyes found their way to the pad kee mao. This is a dish I have ordered before with some success, but it can be oily and full of limp vegetables. I decided to order it anyway and hoped for the best.
The pad kee mao I received exceeded even my wildest dreams. It was saucy and flavorful without a hint of oiliness. There were no wilted, sad vegetables or mushy noodles to be found on this plate of deliciousness. The plate was piled high with perfectly chewy noodles, thin slabs of tender pork, huge leaves of fragrant Thai basil and plump, succulent mushrooms. This is the best pad kee mao I have ever eaten, and while I haven’t eaten as much of it as I’ve eaten red curry, I’d venture to say that you’d be hard pressed to find better. I ordered mine at a spiciness level of 3/5, which was enough to entice my heat-seeking taste buds, but not face-meltingly, can’t-taste-your-food spicy.  I’d say order a 4 if you really like spicy food. The 3 was a bit mild, but had a pleasant heat. I can see why they call this meal “drunken noodles.” I know where I’m going after my next hangover.
The Thai iced tea I ordered with my meal was on par with the quality of the food. What can a person really say about a Thai iced tea? They’re more orange than Snooki and sweeter than a cherry pie with Reddi-Whip topping. Kudos if you get that reference. The Thai iced tea at Tuk Tuk is well-balanced, traditional, and spicy-sweet without making your teeth want to fall out of your head.

Abbe’s Meal: Red Curry (Gang Dang) with Scallops
     I just want to point out that on the menu this is called “Gang Dang.” Talk amongst yourselves.
     I always get this. It never fails. I will sit and look over the menu like I have no clue what’s on it, only to set it down with full confidence in my choice mere moments later. I don’t even know why Jebby bothers asking “What are you getting?” The red curry contains bell peppers, basil, eggplant, bamboo shoots, and lemongrass.
     I like to order my red curry as a three out of five star, spicy, but not omg-I’m-on-fire. Tuk Tuk has never disappointed me with their fresh (not frozen) scallops, but this time I will point out the scallops were smaller in size and slightly overdone, giving them a more chewy texture. One thing I like most about Tuk Tuk is their red curry sauce. It doesn’t taste like it came out of a package, nor is it overly watery or like a paste. Many Thai restaurants seem to lack in this area of expertise and who is to say if it is due to cutting corners, Americanizing, poorly trained staff, or just crap recipes.
     Another thing Tuk Tuk has down to an art is their peanut sauce. Just give me a bucket of it and a spoon and I need no red curry with scallops. I have tasted many different peanut sauces all over Portland, none of which have even come close enough to Tuk Tuk’s to mention. I have dreams about this peanut sauce, dreams that include things like my bed, Simon Baker, and a basting brush. It’s that good and I give you my word, if you try it, be prepared to be blown away.
     My red curry was the picture of perfection when it arrived, piping hot with a side of rice and my little bowl of peanut sauce ready to smother it. There are few meals that I keep in my memory warehouse and this is one of them. Every bite is a carefully crafted concoction of soft steamed rice, fresh and tender vegetables, buttery scallops, and sweet, thick, peanutty, delicious, epic, wonderful, amazing, lovely peanut sauce. Another thing I LOVE about their curry is the fact that they are not shy with the basil. They’re about as forthcoming with their basil as small children are with being obnoxious. The bamboo shoots are another mentionable source of excellence. Ever have a curry with bamboo shoots and noticed they were hard, rough or spiney? Yeah, that would mean they’re not ripened properly and are too young. I have never had this problem at Tuk Tuk, their bamboo shoots are always soft and pleasant, but have a nice al dente texture. You get red and green bell peppers and a generous helping of finely cooked eggplant. If you’re like me and you’re very picky about how your eggplant is cooked, then have no fear, the master minds behind Tuk Tuk’s fine cuisine have taken the “I’m crossing my fingers for good eggplant” out of the equation.
     So there you have it, the ultimate curry dish that trumps every other curry dish in Portland. If you have eaten and been disappointed by as many Thai restaurants as I have, consider this your safe haven where you’ll be guaranteed an amazing meal.

Abbe and Jebby's Appetizer: Fresh Salad Rolls
     Jebby and I split an order of Tuk Tuk’s famous fresh salad rolls. These crunchy and cool little numbers are a favorite of ours and we highly recommend them with a side of, you guessed it, peanut sauce. Lightly fried tofu, carrots, cabbage, rice noodles and cilantro wrapped in soft rice paper make the perfect appetizer to get your GI juices flowing and ready to digest some serious food. Although cilantro is an uncommon ingredient, usually basil is the garnish of choice, it still served us well and satisfied our palates.

                                                                                    Tuk Tuk Overall
     Tuk Tuk has a lot to offer it’s customers besides delicious food. Their cozy establishment is inviting and comfortable with brightly painted walls of orange and lime green, contrasted with warm and soft lighting that gives an almost romantic vibe. The paintings on their walls are unfortunate, but what can you do? The staff is courteous and attentive, although we have experienced the occasional lapse in excellent service. Our server this time was not very excited to serve us although the restaurant only had two other tables besides Jebby’s and mine. If you’re busy, we can understand a little delay, but come on.
     FREE REFILLS ALERT! Jebby and I love free refills if you haven’t noticed, it’s just the way it should be. Their prices are extremely reasonable considering how much food you get and the fact that you can order fresh seafood in your meal for under $10 a plate is something we get excited about.
     Tuk Tuk is a great place to take a date, you’ll have stinky breath afterwards, but at least you’ll both be in the same boat. Overall Tuk Tuk is a winner no matter how you look at it, unless you’re looking at the crappy paintings.
Tuk Tuk's full menu in all of it's glory can be viewed on their website


  1. THANK YOU JEBBE & ABBE!!! Your reviews are not only informative, but ultimately entertaining too. Thank you for providing a great local resource for dining in the Portland Metro area.~Lily of the Valley

  2. Lily, so glad you are enjoying our posts and thank you for reading!
    <3 Abbe & Jebby

  3. Yeah, i been there many times