Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

Nittaya's Secret Kitchen won't be a secret much longer, as this tiny neighborhood gem in Summerlin has a lot of potential. Tucked back in a small strip center off Lake Mead and Rampart, it is a little tricky to find, but is worth the search. They describe themselves as a Thai tapas restaurant, implying there may be some fusion going on, but in actuality you can just expect a lot of Thai appetizers - really good Thai appetizers - and some traditional favorites. Most things on the menu taste healthy and clean, and there are plenty of vegetarian dishes. The tofu preparations here are better than most, and the eggplant dishes aren't heavily saturated with oil as they often can be.

You can't leave without ordering the unique Spinach Salad ($9). This isn't really a salad at all, but rather a mound of lightly tempura battered spinach leaves that serve as chips for a tangy 'dip' made from ground chicken, whole cashews, cilantro, carrots, and onions. The leaves are delicate, yet pack a crunch, and the spicy, sweet, loose dip is like a meat-fortified salsa. Sounds a little strange, but it's to die for. The Chicken Ginger Salad is similar to the Spinach Salad, except the spinach is replaced with iceberg lettuce, you get a lot more chicken, and you have the addition of tender julienne ginger ($9).

Skip on the 'Shrimp in Pastry.' Though tasty, and dramatically presented, there is no pastry to be found (just wonton wrappers). The shrimp are overwhelmed by the cream cheese, and the jalapeno and leek don't come through enough. It's also a culinary no-no to put inedible items on a plate, i.e. pineapple rind (see below). What the 'Shrimp in Pastry' lacked in cohesion of flavors, the 'Thai Bouillabaise' made up for, though the mucky color was off-putting. They also use frozen green lip New Zealand mussels, an ingredient I feel there is no excuse for in good places. Though I loved the broth, that was the break in the 'make-or-break' of the Bouillabaise for me.

I love that they have outdoor seating with views of the mountains in the distance, but the best kept part of Nittaya's secret is that you can get a $25 dining certificate on for as little as $1 when you sign up for their email list. Although I'm annoyed by their almost daily notifications, the discount codes are incredible and I save about 80% off their regular restaurant certificate prices on any given day. Plus, it encourages me to try new restaurants I otherwise wouldn't, even if I do defeat the purpose of the discount entirely by over ordering. If you go to Nattaya's make sure you visit beforehand, even if you don't have a code, because it will still save you $15 as a visitor.

Finally, go knowing that the service at Nittaya's is slow. Your food arrives promptly once you order, but everything else seems to take forever. The staff is friendly enough to compensate for this shortcoming, though it is worth taking into consideration if you are short on time or don't particularly like to linger. Hopefully this is just part of their opening pains.

Note: Nittaya's is a good date place. It's dark and cozy inside and effort has been put into the decor.

Today's Food Ratings:
Spinach Salad: 9.5
Chicken Ginger Salad: 8
Shrimp in Pastry: 6.5
Basil Tofu: 7.5
Basil Eggplant: 7
Thai Bouillabaise: 7

Restaurant Rating: 7.5


Nittaya's Secret Kitchen
2110 N. Rampart, Ste. 110
Las Vegas, NV 89128

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