By Aurora Slothus
Princeton: Snobby college town? Maybe. Excellent shopping destination? Definitely. Too expensive of a town to eat in? Not always.
When visiting Princeton, most people tend to stick to the center, the strip of Nassau Street in between Hamilton Jewelers and the Princeton Garden Theatre. But if you get hungry on a Saturday night and find yourself short on cash, you might want to continue down Nassau Street, past the hustle and bustle of the center of Newtown.
Located at 235 Nassau Street is Thai Village, an unassuming and inexpensive Thai restaurant that will satisfy your curry craving without emptying your wallet.
Thai Village is not the largest of eating establishments. With about 30 seats and 10 to 12 tables inside and four in the outside seating area, it is highly unlikely that you’ll find a table on a busy night without a 15- to 20-minute wait. The restaurant is also not the most atmospheric of places. Unlike its rather stylized competitors, such as the Alchemist & Barrister or Mediterra, Thai Village sports a simple décor, opting for function over fashion. However, what the restaurant lacks in size and atmosphere it makes up for in quality of food.
Thai Village serves a wide variety of Asian-infused Thai cuisine. It has common Chinese appetizers like crispy spring rolls and tender fried pork dumplings alongside Thai dishes like coconut milk soup. For the main course there is a large selection of dishes ranging from the traditional Pad Thai, which is stir-fried rice noodles, and curry dishes, to chef specialties like roast duck, and shrimp and scallops in red curry. One of the exceptional dishes is chef special number two: massaman chicken, a delectable concoction of chicken, potatoes and onions cooked in coconut milk and a mild curry, topped with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts. The sauce is sweet with just the right amount of spice. It is especially good when poured over the white rice provided with the dish, which also serves to dampen the intensity of the spice.
An excellent accompaniment to the meal is Thai Iced Tea, a creamy tea with a hint of spice, which is unlike anything served in a typical Asian restaurant. Regular tea and soft drinks are also available, but other than that, the restaurant is BYOB. However, a liquor store is conveniently located right across the street for those who wish to imbibe.
For dessert, there aren’t many choices, although mango or coconut ice cream provides a cool relief from the after-effects of some of the hotter dishes.
Aside from the excellent food, Thai Village has another trait that could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. While at some restaurants it takes a full-on landing signal to attract a member of the wait staff, at Thai Village the service is almost too fast. It is easy to see that the waiters are attempting to be as efficient as possible in order to make room for more patrons to dine in the small establishment. At times you feel obligated to rush through your meal, but a stubborn refusal to hurry will usually suffice in making the wait staff back off.
Despite this one drawback, Thai Village is an excellent place to dine. With tasty main dishes that range from $12 to $15, Thai Village is an affordable and simple place to get a taste of Thai on a Saturday night.
235 Nassau St.
Princeton, NJ 08540