Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Lunch at Jutamas Thai Restaurant
After hearing rave reviews from friends and fellow foodies I decided to give Jutamas Thai Restaurant a try today.
Nestled in an unassuming cinder block building between West Pine Street and Broadway Drive, this may be one of the best kept secrets in Hattiesburg.
The decor is contemporary and upbeat with white table cloths and fresh flowers on each table. It far exceeded my expectations.
I took in a late lunch and found an interesting mix of college students, professionals, and working class patrons.
I'll be the first to admit I am not as familiar with Thai fare as some other offerings so I decided that I would order one dish that I was at least semi-familiar with and something else of which I was totally unfamiliar. I'm no Andrew Zimmern, but I'm not afraid to try something different.
I began with the unfamiliar and ordered an appetizer - Toong Tong.
Toong Tong - Is a combination of three meats (crab, shirmp and pork) mixed with onions, garlic and Thai spices formed into a ball, wrapped in filo dough and deep fried.
The presentation of the dish was very nice, with two of the dough wrapped concoctions placed on a bed of shredded cabbage garnished with tomatoes and cucumbers.
The Toong Tong was a delightful surprise. It was light, delicate and the filo was crispy. The filling was moist but was not weighed down by the oil in which it was cooked. It was served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce that was very good.
For the main course I took the advise of a fellow foodie who raved about the Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp.
Thai Rice - Basic description for just about any Asian fried rice - stir-fried rice with onions, tomatoes, eggs and shrimp. The difference is the Thai spices.
The presentation was again very nice, garnished with cucumbers onions and a spicy Thai chili sauce. I enjoy spicy foods.
This was the single best Asian dish I have encountered in Hattiesburg. I am big on texture, and this dish was outstanding. The texture was perfect, it was not mushy or oily. The dish featured a fantastic blend of Thai spices including cilantro, white pepper, chili powder, and several they wouldn't disclose. The onions, garlic, and tomatoes were fresh and the color was wonderful. The shrimp were large and were lightly grilled before being turned into the fried rice.
This will not be my last visit to Jutamas, and I look forward to trying many other dishes, but I'll admit it will be hard for them to top one of the best first impressions I can remember at a local eatery.