Thai Fusion Preview-Review

Thai Fusion has closed. And it's replacement E-San Thai is also now closed.

By Vegan's Nightmare -- Salem Man urges us all to be "patient and tolerant" with regards to Salem's latest new restaurant -- as though Eat Salem readers and writers have ever been anything but! What? Not funny yet? Anyway, moving on... his post also states that we should wait a couple of months before we do an official review, and I totally agree with that. On the other hand, I also tend to side with restaurant owners who are willing to try something new and different in Salem, so I feel like a "preview-review" is in order to get a sneak peek for the early adopter foodies of Salem.

First, I'd like to note that Thai Fusion has strutted onto the Salem food scene with a simple statement (image right). Oh boy! I love a challenge! But don't look here yet for an opinion on the statement's accuracy, it's too early to tell. And please, for Pork's sake, please don't turn this post into a flame war over who has the best Thai food in Salem (we'll do that later when the official review comes out).

The Basics:
The lunch menu at Thai Fusion ranges between $7-$10 with most at $7-$8, and the dinner menu ranges $9-$16 or so, with most items around $9-11. The Statesman Journal Menu Matters blog has a short summary about the restaurant and it's connection to Bigfoot as well.

The VN Family Meal:
Lettuce Wrap with Chicken (appetizer), Spicy Basil with Chicken (#3 hot), Red Curry (#1 hot), Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli and Brown Rice, 2 Lemonades, ~$40.

The Scene:

The Summary:
For a restaurant open for just a few days, they're definitely on the right track. And even though they're new, I wouldn't hesitate to encourage Thai foodies to step up to the challenge Thai Fusion has set forth. I am a bit reluctant to share too much about how much we loved it at the risk of setting you up for disappointment so early in the game. But, suffice it to say that our first experience was excellent, and the eternally carnivorous VN fam will most decidedly be going back, if for nothing else than to wolf down some more of those lettuce wraps the VN porklets couldn't get enough of.

Now, go! Support your newest local restaurant! But only if you remember to bring your patience and tolerance in case it gets rocky!


KandN said...

I just need to know one thing--what temp do they keep their air conditioning set to?

Lisa Anne said...

lol! I thought it was funny, VN. :)

Alex said...

I think this place has potential, but based on my experience today (Saturday), they are experiencing typical "teething" problems.

To sum up, the service was slow, but the food was good.

To provide a little more detail... even though there was only one table of 2 people there before I ordered, and only one other table of 3 arrived after I ordered, it still took 25 minutes for my food to show up. The process of getting the check taken care of was also a little slow.

It seemed like there was one maitre'd and one server; both would disappear for minutes at a time (at one point, a couple of people showed up at the door, waited around a few minutes, then left after nobody came out to help them).

I had the Thai Iced Tea and Drunken Noodles with Pork. Both were perfectly OK though nothing to absolutely rave about; the noodles were not too wet (which is a pet peeve of mine), and the overall portion size wasn't huge (which for some people may be a problem, but it was fine by me).

Other minor quibbles - lipstick on my water glass, and one piece of gristly meat in my noodles.

The decor is decent, in fact maybe a little upscale, which is fine.

Since I like Thai and this place is nearby, I will definitely try it again in a few weeks to see how the kinks have worked out.

Anonymous said...

I love the food. Service a litter slow. But they only open a few days. I am sure they can improve the service. I will be back to try again.

AMY said...

Well, I talked some friends into trying this tonight, a whole month after the early reports.

I read someplace that if a restaurant isn't in the black within three months, it's very, very unlikely it will ever be. It IS possible to have things well oiled BY THE TIME you open. It just takes skill, talent and work. You can't hire the staff the day before.

I'll let you know how it goes. :-)

AMY said...

... And it was good.

The place is cute -- they really need to get some blinds on the front, however; I sat there getting my retinas lased as the sun went down Wednesday night.

It's just BIZARRE to have this attached to Bigfoot, be looking at a nice Thai menu that suddenly turns into BIGFOOT and walking in to see Asian staff, and then to see a waitress from Bigfoot.

Fusion, indeed.

The preparation and presentation is very nice, with dishware that really complement the experience. Looking at the menu, I would swear that the dishes range from 9-16 which seems in the "low end of moderate" range. Our table got mostly specials, but the total meal ticket for six people (and this included "reordering" an appetizer three times) was only $99 before tip. That was insane given the nice sized portions (not huge, not too small) and rich flavors.

My mainstay to try at a new place is the Massaman curry. I've cried for a contender to Red Thai Room's (may you RIP), but been disappointed in many venues. I've found it; this was thick and rich, clearly well simmered yet the vegetables were still crisp and firm, having been cut w/ fluted knives so the ridges held even more sauce and flavor.

It was all good, including the service (relaxed but effective). I can't wait to go back!

Salem Dinner Table said...

Thai Fusion, 3330 Commercial St. SE, will have a grand opening 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 9.
The public is invited for free nonalcoholic drinks and free "finger foods,” said co-owner Boo Chanthavong.
The restaurant shares space with the Bigfoot Lounge. It officially opened July 21 in the space formerly operated by the Monaghan II bar and eatery.
One menu serves both Bigfoot and Thai Fusion. The Thai flavor includes curry dishes, basil catfish and seafood, as well as traditional Thai dishes.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Call (503) 991-5918 for information.

Anonymous said...

i went to their grand opening. wow, the food is so delicious! their peanut sauce is amazing, and everyone working their is fast, efficient and polite.

Anonymous said...

Is Boo Chanthavong still involved with the Red Ginger restaurant in Keizer and the new Thai Fusion?

I think she had a noodle restaurant in the old bank building next to Nordstrom's and Salem Center at one point. Googling her name brings up that she is a real estate agent too?

Lanxang has become just too slow. It is nice to have another option for Thai in Salem.

Marion Barnes said...

Boo no longer is involved with Red Ginger, she will tell you frostily if you ask. She's a co-owner at Thai Fusion and also a real estate agent.

Anonymous said...

My husband has been home sick so I stopped by Thai Fusion on my way home to get him some soup. I only had a short time before I had to get the order home and take off for another appointment, so I was relieved to see there was only one table of people and me in the restaurant. I asked the only server in sight if there was a beef noodle-type soup available, and he said "yes we do. Well, no. We have this, Herb Noodle Soup, it's very rich." I confirmed that I shouldn't expect a clear broth-type soup, then? He agreed. I was hoping for something a little lighter, but that's all I could see on the menu so I paid and waited.

And waited. 20 minutes later the soup came out. Which made me late, and there was no one else ordering food in the whole place. I don't know, that seemed like a long time to me. Now what I did like is that he was wrong: it was a clear beef broth-based soup -- what I was hoping for -- and they packaged the noodles and herbs and bean sprouts separately which makes for a good fresh soup when you're ready to eat your take-out, and not soggy noodles. I also liked that it was a HUGE portion. Over $9 but my husband ate two meals from it and I ate one meal from it myself. Tons of food. The soup was good, but the beef was not. Mixed in with thin, tender slices of beef were giant chunks of blubbery fat, not appetizing at all.

Slow I can deal with if I'm sitting down for a leisurely meal, but I probably won't do take-out again. The restaurant was decorated nicely inside I thought, but really odd to have it sharing a menu with Bigfoot. Tacky. I would give them another try. I'd like to see how they do some of my other favorite Thai dishes.

Charles said...

This place is great. They were my favorite when part of Red Ginger in Keizer, but since that changed hands (or whatever happened), it has gone down hill.

The Pineapple Fried Rice is wonderful, ample poritons and very flavorful. Other Thai places charge an arm and a leg for that type of dish - Thai Fusion has is for less than $9 at lunch. A great value and sure to become a weekly staple for me.