Whisk Review: Ban Thai
2936 Niles Avenue
Saint Joseph, MI 49085
Tuesday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday: 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Atmosphere & Service: Ban Thai is a small, vibrant restaurant in St. Joseph. It is set in a strip mall, sandwiched among a hair salon, chiropractor and a cell phone repair shop, and thus is difficult to detect from the street. It has limited seating and small tables, so I wouldn’t recommend going with a group of more than four or five people. Although small, the tiny restaurant is packed from floor to ceiling with character. Bright curtains, false windows, posters, mirrors and a variety of artwork adorn the walls. Miniature kitchen equipment and paper lanterns hang from the ceiling as well, so there are plenty of details to observe. The space may be cramped, but it does maintain a bubbly atmosphere over the low din of other table’s conversations and kitchen noise. It is certainly not formal, and laminated Microsoft Word-esque posters taped to the wall at eye level remind customers of the restaurant’s opinions on phone use and unattended children, along with information about special offers. Despite the busy time of day that we arrived, we were seated quickly and our food was ready only a few minutes after we ordered. The restaurant owner, who also works as a waiter, was very energetic and friendly. We also ordered tea, which was forgotten, and because the restaurant was quite crowded, it took a while to find an opportunity to ask about it.
Food & Prices: Ban Thai offers a variety of dishes, including multiple noodle options, curries, stir fries, soups and salads. Their menu states that they cook their food with vegetable oil and use no MSG in their recipes. Dishes that include meat can be made vegetarian with substituting meat for tofu. Regular entrees range in price from $9 to $15. The restaurant also has an $8.50 lunch special. Included in this is a choice from several noodle or rice dishes with either chicken, beef, vegetables or tofu, along with a salad and appetizer of the day. I went to Ban Thai with two friends, and we each ordered a lunch special: Tofu Pad Thai, Chicken Pad Thai, and Tofu Pad Kee Mao. The appetizer of the day was a veggie spring roll. We also ordered Thai iced tea. Those who ordered Pad Thai said that it was not their favorite, but the Pad Kee Mao was delicious. The iced tea was of course very sweet, but also cool and refreshing. Ban Thai also has dessert options available, including sweet sticky rice with mango and homemade ice cream, though desserts that use fruit vary on the seasons. You can also access the restaurant’s menu on their website.
Overall: Ban Thai has a very homey, small-town feel. I cook a lot at home, so it is nice to go out and have a meal that I normally wouldn’t make or have all of the ingredients for already stocked. They do have limited hours, which may be difficult to work around a college schedule, especially during the week. Also, they have a $10 minimum for credit/debit card purchases, which may be inconvenient for people who don’t typically carry cash around.