After hearing a few rave reviews from friends about Yupha’s Thai Kitchen, we knew it was a matter of time before we wound up haunting the tables of this popular Tempe kitchen.
The place was busy – and I mean PACKED – but since we had a group larger than five, we were able to make reservations and be seated right away. The restaurant is not enormous by any means and they try to make the best use of the space so tables are quite close together and it can be a little loud with all the conversation. Still, this slightly crowded atmosphere actually gives the place a feel of a casual neighborhood location where everyone just goes to have a great meal with friends or family. Because of the traffic, you can expect some delays in service but rest assured everyone is on the floor working, even Yupha herself who is regularly roaming the floor and helping with whatever is needed.
First, we opened some bottles of wine (naturally) and then we got started with some Thai Rolls and Corn Fritters. The Thai Rolls are light and crunchy and served with a delicious plum sauce while the Corn Fritters are made of crispy sweet corn with cilantro and served with a sweet and tangy cucumber salad. Both were absolutely excellent and a perfect way to start the meal!
When ordering your dish, Yupha offers six different spice levels. That’s right folks…six! Mild, medium, hot, Thai hot, double Thai hot, and “I don’t want to have anymore internal organs” triple Thai hot. Some of us started with medium since it was a new place for us but we are fans of spice and those that did thought we could have bumped it up to hot. Tony braved the firing squad and ordered his Boat Noodle (meatballs, noodle, broth, and bean sprouts) in Thai hot. He survived and we all agreed that it was quite a tasty spice. Pat and Sarah both ordered Drunken Noodles in medium and could have moved up a notch but Bill got it right the first time, ordering it in “hot”. Either way, the flavors of the Napa cabbage, peppers, onion, egg, chili pepper, and Thai basil in a soy sauce were absolutely outstanding!
Fred S thoroughly enjoyed his repeat performance of the yellow curry and Fred K said his Pla Lad Prik (crispy Tilapia with Thai spicy sweet chili sauce) was exceptional. Don and Kelly raved over their choice of the weekly red curry special filled with sautéed veggies and aptly called the Evil Jungle Princess. I always appreciate a restaurant with humor!
There was a delay with Karna’s Crying Tiger but once she finally tasted her grilled rib eye with “our sauce”, cucumbers, tomatoes, and served with an Emerald dipping sauce, she enjoyed it. Especially the Emerald sauce that she exclaimed was “worth it”.
Jen and Ann debated who ordered the better option between their eggplant and cashew chicken dishes while Janice wisely stayed out of it and just enjoyed both. Jay put on his man-pants and ordered a dish with a spicy Thai herb broth that came with a warning from the server. His gamble paid off and it was loaded with flavor!
We were stuffed but we made a little room in the waistband to try some of the desserts. Score one for us! First up was the weekly special of the Swan in Love, two handcrafted éclairs served with strawberry, raspberry and blueberry, a splash of Grand Marnier, and topped with Honey Greek yogurt. Then we scarfed down the homemade coconut ice cream with fried banana as well as the ever-popular coconut sticky rice. I was so pleased to hear from Yupha that they only serve mango when it is in season. She is more concerned with the quality of the food rather than offering a standard dessert at any time during the year. Cheers to that!
Lastly, we enjoyed a new surprise which was the Thai custard made with Pandanus Leaf (Bai Dteuy). The little ramekin filled with green custard was a completely new adventure and so tasty! We were so intrigued, that Yupha brought out a cookbook to explain the nature of the Pandanus Leaf, which she called the “vanilla bean of Asia”. She was also quick to clarify that they do not cook out of cookbooks rather “these are my momma’s recipes!” How can you not love this woman who has such a passion for her restaurant and the product she delivers?!
We were so engrossed in devouring our delicious food that we even forgot to take pictures but we did manage to snap a few of the desserts before we gobbled them up.
Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines so I can be quite particular, but Yupha’s Thai Kitchen really hit the mark! It is easy to see why Yupha was named one of Top 45 Chefs in Arizona and the restaurant has won multiple awards. The atmosphere, flavors, and quality of the ingredients really won a Tastebud Oscar from this group!