At a lot of suburban Thai restaurants, take-out and delivery orders seem to drive a majority of the business. But at Up Thai in Morris Plains, an emphasis is placed on the dining experience.
The restaurant, opened in January, is located in a small strip mall next to a nail salon. Up Thai has a clean and modern look inside, with shiplap walls and décor with traditional Thai touches. The staff is inviting and attentive, and was able to juggle a nearly full dining room on a recent Tuesday night without compromising their warm hospitality.
As we waited for our bottle of white wine to chill (don’t forget to BYO here), we put in a few appetizers. I could tell I was in for a great meal after my first bite into a flaky and feathery curry puff ($7.95 for three), filled with a curry-spiced combination of minced chicken, potato, caramelized onion, and carrot. The steamed chicken dumplings ($7.95 for six) were delightful, and the spring rolls ($5.95 for three), stuffed with cabbage, carrot, taro root and glass noodles were crisp and not overly greasy.
Up Thai’s menu encompasses a full range of Thai cuisine, including everything from green papaya salad to so-called “street foods” like Thai basil and spicy spare ribs, to noodle dishes and well-spiced coconut milk-based curries. We tried the popular pad Thai ($12.95) offered with your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu. Many Thai restaurants charge extra for proteins beyond tofu, so it was nice to see the dish priced at flat rate.
The red curry ($13.95) was superb. I opted for the tofu, featuring red chili paste, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, bamboo shoots, bell pepper and green beans, which was flavorful with the right amount of heat. I only wished I had a little bit more rice alongside it.
Despite the clever pun in its name, Up Thai is a lot less Americanized than I expected. It’s a refreshing addition to the Morris County dining scene, offering some of the more enjoyable Thai food in the area.
Up Thai, 2700, 981 Tabor Road, Morris Plains; 973-998-8536
Open for lunch and dinner, Tues-Sun, BYO