My Favorite Thai Restaurant
Growing up in rural New Jersey, my access to a variety of cuisines was limited and included low-key Italian, diner-food, or Chinese food.
My first experience trying Thai food happened five years ago. A family friend introduced me to a Thai restaurant called Khao Tip in Wayne, NJ.
According to their beautiful website, Khao Tip says their name (in Thai) refers to “The rice from heaven.”
They go on to say that they take this phrase, “As a [business] philosophy and [are] proud to present all of our dishes to live up [to] the slogan.”
Khao Tip | The Interior
The restaurant has a surprisingly large interior. The main dining area has tables of 2-4. Stepping through the doorway in the back-left corner allows you to enter into a second dining area for larger parties (4-8).
The Owners & Staff
For the first 3 or 4 years of going to Khao Tip, I knew the main waitresses Noon and Nancy. They were from New York City and traveled back and forth between Khao Tip or working on their parent's farm.
Recently, from fall 2017 to present, it appears that Khao Tip is under new management.
The décor has changed slightly to incorporate new wall art. The menu has been reprinted with new designs and colors. The wait-staff and management seem to be a husband and wife team and their two daughters.
They are equally as effective as Noon and Nancy, though I am still getting to know them.
Now we’ve come to the part that you really care about, the food.
My Favorite Appetizers
My favorite part of the meal is trying a variety of appetizers. I love the bite-sized gems with their accompanying sauces. At Khao Tip, they're plated on blue-patterned plates with little paper doilies.
I’ve tried (and loved) every appetizer on the menu; with the exception of the fish pancake (because the texture wasn’t for me).
If you're going to try Khao Tip I recommend you order the following dishes:
Chive Pancake | Special
These golden triangles do not have the overpowering chive-taste you might imagine. The outside is crispy, but the inside has a creamy texture. They are not heavy or greasy, and come with a small bowl of zingy dipping sauce.
Golden Bags | $7.95
These are fun to eat, especially with someone who’s never had them.
Golden Bags are crunchy, fried wontons stuffed with ground chicken, peas, carrots, onions, and spices. They come with a sweet orange duck-sauce. I find the easiest way to eat them is to bite off the top and pour the sauce into the dome of veggies.
Shrimp Blankets | $7.95
Pretty self-explanatory, the Shrimp Blankets are shrimp wrapped wontons that pair with a sweet, duck sauce. The shrimp is not tough or overcooked. The wonton wrapper retains the heat from the fryer, so you can eat them last and they'll still be warm.
Thai Dumplings | $7.95
Tender dumplings stuffed with chicken, shrimp, water chestnut, shitake mushroom, and scallion. The dumplings sit on a similar soy-based sauce as with the chive pancake.
I can eat this plate of dumplings myself, and still go back for more!
Curry Puff | $7.95
This is my all-time favorite appetizer: Puff pastry filled with potato, onion, ground chicken and curry powder. The curry puffs are not spicy. The curry is used to color the filling and add a level of seasoning.
They come with a refreshing, non-spicy sauce. I have not been able to figure out exactly what is in it, but it might be a mellow vinegar with sugar, cucumber cubes, thin red onion, and chili.
My Favorite Entrees
Ironically, I’m not a fan of spicy food. When I first tried the Thai food at Khao Tip, I ordered an authentic dish, the green curry with chicken.
As I think back to that dish, it ranks as one of the spiciest dishes I’ve ever eaten. Now I make sure to order items without the little red chili icon next to their name.
My go-to entrees usually include carbs. In the case of Thai, that means noodle-dishes. At Khao Tip, my favorite noodle-centric dish is the drunken noodles.
Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) | $11.95
The Drunken Noodles is a comforting dish, perfect to order during cold weather. This dish has the most unique texture of noodles, al dente peppers, carrots, sweet onions, tender beef, sautéed with fresh herbs.
Chicken Tamarind | $17.95 (Specialty Dish)
I’ll pair a starch-based dish with a protein. I always order the chicken tamarind. It has the sautéed vegetables on top like many of the other Thai dishes. It comes with a side of white rice. The combination of the crunchy, panko-style coating, with the tangy tamarind sauce, is to die for.
I also ask for extra chicken so I have some leftovers to take home. Their entrees are large portions so I can split it between 2-3 people.
Pineapple Fried Rice | $11.95-$13.95
If you’d rather have rice instead of noodles, the pineapple fried rice is perfect. I order mine with vegetables instead of protein. The type of vegetables in it depends on the season. Sometimes you have bok choy, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, etc.
This dish always has yellow rice, cashews, raisins, egg, and scallion. It makes for a sweet and savory dish with a variety of textures.
I adore desserts, especially with a cup of coffee. Since I drink a Thai Ice Tea with dinner, I skip the coffee and go straight for a unique dessert. Here are my top three:
Mango with Sticky Rice | $6.95 (Seasonal)
The idea of sticky rice with dessert is why I decided to order this. Despite having rice pudding before, I didn't know how this dessert would turn out.
It was bright and sweet, but not overdone. The rice must've been cooked in a sweet milk. The mango was fresh and spectacular. No wonder it is only seasonal because it was worth it!
Taro Custard | $5.95
It's been a while since I've had this custard. But I remember choosing it because I had no idea what to expect. For $5.95 after a full-meal, two people can easily split this dessert and be full.
Chocolate Lava Cake | $5.95-$6.95
Jamie and I ordered this dessert recently. We're both lovers of chocolate lava cake and saw it on the menu for the first time. We decided to try it and it did not disappoint.
The ice cream was vanilla (despite its french vanilla appearance). The chocolate lava cake had a cake-like outside and traditional molten inside. It had a decent pool of warm chocolate to flow around the cake, which was nice for dipping. Sometimes chocolate lava cakes are not what I expect, but this one was perfect.
Do you have a favorite?
Khao Tip is #1 in my book for Thai. Two people can leave with a three-course meal for $50 + tip. I'd be surprised to find another location that has as good of atmosphere, service, and food as Khao Tip.
Do you have a favorite Thai-spot? What's their best dish? Tell me about it in the comments.