Dining Review - Talay Thai & Sushi
Leland eatery's got potential
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 9:10 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 9:10 a.m.
When I moved to Wilmington 11 years ago, Leland was little more to me than a place I passed on my way to Southport. Since then, growth in planned communities like Magnolia Greens, Waterford and Brunswick Forest have caused Leland and Belville to blossom.
Location: 497 Olde Waterford Way, Suite 100, Belville
Hours: Lunch is 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Dinner is 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 5-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Prices: Lunch is $6.50-$10. Sushi and sashimi are $3.50- $20. Entrees are $8-$20.
I recently reviewed Duke's Old South Barbecue in Leland, but with the addition of ethnic restaurants like Talay Thai and Sushi, the area is adding more to its dining repertoire than traditional Southern food and chain restaurants. Featuring a menu of – you guessed it – Thai and sushi, Talay is a welcome addition to the area's dining scene. The small restaurant – there are about a dozen tables, and the same number of seats at the sushi bar – opened in early January, and on every visit I've made it's been busy.
The service at Talay is friendly but can be a little slow, with prompt seating upon arrival followed by a solid five-minute wait for menus and water. Once we ordered, though, service tended to pick up.
For dinner, we focused on Thai offerings but started with a trio of appetizers. The shumai (steamed pork dumplings) was a hit. The pork filling was tasty, but the sauce – a slightly sweet soy-based sauce with thinly sliced scallions – was the real highlight. The spring rolls had good flavor, but again, the sweet and sour sauce stole the show. Chef Oy Siharat makes all the sauces and curries in house, an attention to detail that shows.
The best appetizer was the tuna tataki (seared tuna). On the menu, it's described as thinly sliced seared tuna on top of radish served with ponzu (a citrusy soy sauce), but ours came served on a bed of onions. The tuna was fresh and the ponzu gave it just enough salt and citrus to round it out.
With most entrees you can pick from beef, chicken, tofu, pork, shrimp, scallops, calamari or vegetables. You can also order levels of spiciness from one to seven or, if you're bold, Thai hot. We asked for pad Thai at five and the pad kee mow and the massaman curry at three.
The pad Thai was scorched, its flavor masked by an acrid, smoky smell and the over-caramelized, near-burned flavor of the sauce. This dish was the loser of the dinner round.
The pad kee mow, however, a similar dish to pad Thai, was very good. With a sauce that's less sweet and more savory than pad Thai, the kitchen managed not to caramelize the sugars and delivered a tasty plate of rice noodles, tofu, broccoli, onions and fresh basil leaves.
Either our server or the kitchen confused the spiciness of our dishes, though, and the pad kee mow came out at a five and the Pad Thai at three. That was fine with me as the level five spiciness wasn't as hot as I'd expected. Next time I'd order this dish with a six or seven.
Our massaman curry with chicken had great flavor, but was a little lacking in the sauce department. With barely more than a couple of spoonfuls on the plate, there wasn't enough to soak up with the rice or to mix with the chicken and vegetables.
Desserts at Talay include ice cream (mango, green tea and fried), fried bananas, a pair of odd dessert sushi rolls and coconut cake. We had the coconut cake and it was fantastic. It comes served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, but doesn't need it.
Sushi at Talay is very good. The menu is full of nigiri (individual pieces of sushi) and traditional and special rolls. The vegetable roll – asparagus, cucumber and avocado – was fresh and the rice well-cooked. A spicy yellowtail roll – spicy hamachi (tuna), green onion and cucumber – delivered some heat without muddying the flavor of the tuna.
Many of the specialty rolls are named for locations in the area – there are the Waterford, Cape Fear, Hwy. 17, Port City and Leland rolls, to name a few. I ordered the Leland Roll – red snapper and cucumber with spicy sauce, topped with tuna. The fish wasn't fishy or overly oily, and the texture was right on. Overall, the rolls were put together well (not too tight, not falling apart) and served quickly, and the sushi delivered a much more consistent dining experience than the Thai side of the menu.
Talay, for now, is an average restaurant, but it offers something completely different to Leland-area diners. My hope is that they become the restaurant their best dishes show they can be.
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