Royal Thai

October 18, 2002


Laguna Beach was first introduced to the many-faceted tastes of

Thailand in the summer of 1985 when Sam Tila and his brother Lek

launched Royal Thai Cuisine on Coast Highway.

The site, fronting a historic building, which had been moved from

the Downtown area, welcomes guests to a fish pond-centered porch for

al fresco feasting. Past these portals is the cozy dining room where


diagonally slatted burnished wood walls are magnificently adorned

with the fascinating art of Thailand. The impressive scenic paintings

and colorfully costumed dancers cut from sanded stone beautifully

reflect the theme of that exotic culture.

Boasting one of the more extensive Thai bills of fare locally, the

brothers have carefully included copious descriptions of various

dishes. A tiny firecracker icon warns patrons of spicy items. And for

those who crave more intense heat the menu states "all dishes can be

made spicier, double spicy or triple spicy." Conversely, a

heart-healthy logo fronts the many dishes based on vegetarian meats,

tofu and assorted noodles.

Beyond the usual Thai beginnings of spring rolls, satay skewered

beef and chicken strips, starters include crisp little katoang thong

shells filled with chicken/shrimp/ vegetables; naked shrimp seasoned

with lime, nampla, chili and lemon grass; spicy tod-mun fishcakes;

and mixed seafood yum ta-lay with eggplant/onion/cucumber/ lemon

grass in lime sauce. At $5.95 and $6.95, all are accompanied with

peanut sauce, honey mustard and cucumber chutney.

Savory chicken broth flavors a quintet of soups healthfully laden

with al dente vegetables. Typical are delicious tomyum hot/sour

replete with chicken breast and mushrooms and coconut tom kah

seasoned with Laos roots -- $3.95 a cup, $6.95 for two. Interesting

salads, in the same price structure are the country style som tom

toss of green papaya with crushed peanuts and the royal green blend

embellished with grilled beef or chicken in spicy lime dressing.

Seafood rates a special heading starting with a catch of the day

for $14.95. Whether steamed or grilled, there's a choice of black

bean or lemon grass sauce, spicy Thai, curry or three-flavors. Priced

from $11.95 to $16.95 are such as the talay paow medley of shellfish

and fin fish embellished with two sauces, pan-fried calamari with

zucchini, pampano and catfish topped with sweet and sour or spicy

sauce, Alaskan king crab legs with curry and huge freshwater prawns

from Chao Prayer River grilled with tamarind curry.

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