Sai Fine Bistro, 5005 Colleyville Blvd, Colleyville. 817-592-0202. 5-9pm Sun, 5-9:30pm Mon-Wed, 5-10pm Thu-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin’s had some bad luck with restaurants in Fort Worth. The chef with the fierce Thai cooking skills dazzled Funkytown foodies in 2014 when he opened Bite City Grill and the divine Kin Kin Urban Thai. Perhaps the chef was spread thin over two businesses, or perhaps it was the voodoo of Bite City’s location in that corner space of 2600 Montgomery Plaza, where no eatery has survived much more than a year. In April, the chef resurfaced in Colleyville, helming Sai Fine Bistro.
The Bistro is housed in an unassuming strip mall with minimal blink-and-miss-it signage that belies the charming interior. The front third of Sai is a bar, with luxurious dark wood, white chairs and booths, and minimal decorations. In contrast, the dining room is bedecked in a pastiche of Buddhist reverence and contemporary art backed by dark red walls.
Much of the menu is resolutely, classically Thai cuisine, like the tom kha soup. The faithful rendering of the traditional coconut milk-and-lemongrass soup was swimming with shiitake and enoki mushrooms, chicken, lemongrass, and cherry tomatoes. Sadly, the broth was cluttered with spoon-sized shards of woody, inedible ginger served with the chicken and mushroom broth, but it was not too much trouble picking them out.
There were also twists on the Asian palate, like the miso Caesar salad and the fried Brussels sprouts: sweetly tender, delightfully pan-fried to a crisp, and bathed in a sweet and sour chile plum sauce that was so good it prompted a discussion at the table about the etiquette of licking the plate. The salad had a touch of salty, fermented miso paste – but it was a subtle, almost unrecognizable note to the creamy classic dressing. Crunchy and delicious, it was garnished gloriously with giant shavings of parmesan cheese and a brittle, garlicky parmesan-dusted melba toast.
Some of the menu items will look familiar to folks who’ve dined with Chef Eddy before. In the lemongrass risotto with shrimp, plucked off the Bite City Grill menu, six plump, perfectly grilled shrimp sat atop a generous portion of lemongrass and kaffir lime-infused risotto. The rice base tasted similar to the tom kha soup but with the added element of creamy cheese. The shrimp were grilled with minimal seasoning and not prepared with the starch, so there was a juxtaposition in tastes – clean, slightly salty crustacean and rich, cheesy rice – which was a little off-putting. However, the plate was gorgeously presented, and the shrimp and risotto disappeared quicker than the last restaurant to sit in Bite City Grill’s former Montgomery Plaza location.
Thai BBQ Pork Ribs also proved to be a wining entrée. A healthy dose of Chinese five-spice blend flavored the meat and the sweet-tart soy-based sauce. The pork was so tender it slipped off the bone as easily as a socialite would shrug off a mink coat. The half-dozen spare ribs came with grilled bok choi and other vegetables, which were ideal for sopping up the extra sauce.
By contrast, the red curry chicken was plainer in presentation than either of the other entrées. The menu disclaims the curry’s spice level (slightly cooler than the hinges of hell) courtesy of the Anaheim chili pepper. But behind the fiery curry sauce was a sweet coolness of fragrant basil. The veggies, a nice mix of crunchy bamboo shoots and Thai apple, along with soft, tender eggplant, swam in the curry with a plentiful amount of chicken.
The green tea cheesecake was a welcome memory from the Kin Kin menu, and it tasted as good now as it did back in 2014. The chef used just enough matcha green tea to impart a strong flavor to the cheesecake base without overwhelming the dessert with tart bitterness. A beautiful, crisp chocolate Florentine cookie and macerated strawberries added perfect flavor accents. The cheesecake “crust” was a crispy meringue, which was an enjoyable surprise.
Sai is open only for dinner, although the bar opens at 3 p.m. The restaurant’s a bit of a trek from Fort Worth, but what’s a few miles between old friends?
Sai Fine Bistro
Fried Brussels sprouts $7.88
Miso Caesar salad $8.88
Tom Kha chicken soup $6.88
Shrimp lemongrass risotto $24.88
Thai BBQ Pork Ribs $21.88
Red curry chicken $16.88
Green tea cheesecake $9.88