Sitting outside and dining alfresco at the recently-opened Tee-Jay Thai Sushi in Wilton Manors is akin to experiencing local life in a microcosm. Situated as it is dead-center in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, down the strip mall from popular Georgie’s Alibi, this newest branch of the Thai restaurant dynasty (that includes a Tee-Jay branch on North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, Thai House II in North Miami Beach, and Tamarind Asian Grill in Deerfield Beach) is sexy, sophisticated, and priced to proved the point.
On Friday and Saturday nights, you really, really need to want to eat here to handle the wait, as the line stretches out of the 80-seat eatery into the parking lot. On other nights, the mood is more zen should you choose to sit inside among the orchid plants, and sultry purple and blue lighting thats aimed to make you look your best.
We always judge a Thai restaurant by its Green Papaya Salad, a super-simple dish that many joints manage to fuss up to the point that it’s indistinguishable from the real deal.
Tee-Jay’s version is an excellent and healthy choice ($7.95), mixing shreds of fresh green papaya with carrots, green beans, crushed peanuts and lime juice. As with everything at Tee-Jay, you get the option of choosing how intense your selection will be. From mild all the way to Thai spicy, the choice is yours. Here’s your only warning on the subject: Tee-Jay loves things on the hot side, so even medium will set your mouth on fire. Enough said?
A specialty of the house, and an alltime favorite item of ours, is the Ginger Fish ($24.95), a whole snapper that’s been breaded and deep-fried, and layered with a sauce made of mushrooms, carrots, scallions, grated ginger, and celery. Succulent and a slur of flavors that will leave you cleaning your plate.
The Miso Soup ($1.95) is an excellent starter with its not-too-salty broth, coupled with tofu, seaweed, and scallions. For something a little heartier, we highly recommend the Thai Dumplings ($6.25). These four steamed temptations blend ground chicken, shrimp, and shitake mushrooms with a soy-ginger based dipping sauce.
For sushi purists, the list of made-to-order rolls is extensive. They range in price from $3.95 (for a wonderful Tuna Roll) to $23.95 (a lavish Fancy Lobster Roll with lobster tempura, eel, scallions, cucumber and avocado, served inside out and topped with seared tuna, tempura flakes, magago, and kimchee sauce—heaven).
If the Grilled Sea Bass ($27.95) is calling your name, know that it is spiced with passion and served with an ultra-fluffy jasmine rice and sautéed mixed vegetables. Three tasty dipping sauces come along for the ride—a low-salt Teriyaki with a surprising apple after-glow; Peanut, as rich and fattening as you would expect; and Wasabi, creamy and clear-your sinuses strong. In truth, the Sea Bass stands up on its own merits without any added extras, and the jasmine rice is a meal in itself.
The aromatic Soft Shell Crab Panang Curry ($19.95) is made rich and creamy with its peanut base, smoothed with coconut milk, bell peppers, and basil leaves. And if you have an ounce of room left in your stomach, finish the night off with Fried Bananas and Ice Cream ($5.95), served in a sliver-thin rice paper wrap, and drizzled with a lovely chocolate sauce that gives new meaning to the word decadence.
When you’re done licking your plate, tell them Guy Magazine sent you.