3 Thai Restaurant, Pleasant Hill CA
We used to live near 3 Thai Restaurant and drove by it all the time, wondering what it was like. Now we know, but had we known back then, it would have been one of our favorite places a long time ago.
The Combo Plate offered four different items for a very reasonable price. The chicken satay is marinated and skewered, cooked with Thai herbs, spices, and coconut milk, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad. It was juicy, succulent, and flavor packed, plus the grill marks added a good visual appeal and enhanced the flavor. The peanut sauce is one of the best August has tried (as Zach had never had Thai food before tonight). The other chicken item, “3 Thai wings,” is deep fried chicken wings marinated with homemade sauce and served with crispy basil. The wings were cooked really well, so they had crispy skin but the meat was still juicy and not at all overcooked towards the middle. The sauce was mildly sweet and tangy. The item opposite the chicken satay is deep fried sweet potatoes served with plum sauce and ground peanuts. They were crispy, tender, and soft, yet still had substance so the sweet potatoes weren’t mushy. Its sauce had a good texture contrast from the crunch of the roasted peanuts, and also a delicately sweet flavor from the plums. The fourth item is “goong sarong” – deep fried marinated prawns, rapped in wonton skin and served with plum sauce. Not only were these tender, juicy, and large, but also very pretty to look at with a rice noodle wrapped around the wonton.
You can select your spiciness level from 1 to 5 for the roasted duck curry, with 1 being not spicy at all. We ordered a 2, and that was enough to open August’s sinuses, so we’re curious about what 3, 4, and 5 are like! This dish is boneless roasted duck in coconut milk and red curry paste, with a mixture of tomatoes, pineapple, bell pepper, lychee, and basil, served in a clay pot. The broth was nice and spicy with great coconut flavor. It was perfect for ladling over the jasmine rice. The duck was tender, and the fruit and vegetable mix was pleasant. If you like duck, they give you a good amount in this.
The one dish that pretty much everyone is familiar with from Thai cuisine is pad thai. Pan fried thin rice noodles cooked with chicken, prawns, egg, beansprouts, and Chinese chives, with shredded carrots, red cabbage, green cabbage, half of a lime, and ground peanuts on the side, is how 3 Thai does theirs. There were two elements that particularly impressed us about this plate. For one, all the vegetables were still crispy, so there was lots of texture up against the proteins and the noodles. Secondly, Zach cannot eat unprocessed nuts or seeds, so we really appreciated that the peanuts were on the side automatically and we didn’t have to ask for a special order. The flavor was a great balance of salty and sweet, with a mild but refreshing sourness if you choose to squeeze the lime over it.
Also known as kho moo yang, barbeque pork shoulder is a “Thai favorite” according to the menu. This marinated pork is served with a four-flavor dipping sauce that is strongly spicy and mildly sweet and salty, with cilantro, Chinese chives, shallots, and some sort of pepper. August didn’t touch the sauce because Zach knew it would be too hot for her, but the pork was deliciously sweet. There was a good char and it was cooked really well so that it was still juicy and not dried out.
We drank these with our dinner, but they could have easily been a dessert beverage. Zach surprised himself at liking the Thai iced coffee, since coffee isn’t really his thing. Although they are pretty to look at with the cream floating on top, make sure you thoroughly mix before drinking.
Our server was also a classically trained chef and owner of 3 Thai, so we had a great time talking with him and learning about Thai food. We are certain to be coming back to try some other items, as surely they will be as tasty as what we had tonight.