One cuisine that Merced has never lacked is Thai food; there are currently eight restaurants that serve Thai cuisine operating here. Some are of much higher quality than others, of course, and it seems that every UCM student has his or her favorite. The more obscure ones are often overlooked even when they have quite a lot to offer. Such is the case with Thai Star Restaurant, tucked away on Alexander Avenue, just off of G. Street.
An unassuming storefront in a small shopping center, Thai Star is quiet and relaxing, with a cafe-like atmosphere. The soft piano music provides a soothing backdrop for the meal. Decoration is usual for a Thai restaurant; there are lots of elephants and indoor plants. Prices are acceptable but a tad steep; most entrees cost around $8-10. All of the popular dishes are available, from Pad See Ew to the various colors of curry.
The green curry sauce is excellent, with good texture and color, which soaks well into the fluffy rice. The flavor is complex without being overdone; all of the traditional spices are here, complemented by sweet coconut milk used in the sauce. The pieces of eggplant are large and chunky, and the bell peppers are sweet and crispy, which adds texture to the sauce. The rice served is sticky and fluffy, and an excellent carrier for the rich sauce.
The Thai iced tea is the usual cold, sweet, creamy, richly flavored mixture, and accompanies the meal well. The iced Thai coffee is sweet and delicious, full of milk and sugar.
However, the dessert options are where the menu really shines. The bright purple taro ice cream is smooth, soft, and flavorful, and excellently accompanies the sweet, sticky rice it can be served over. The alarming color of the ice cream can be off-putting, but it is worth trying. Other desserts served over sticky rice are also available, including mango and fried bananas.
Even if the food itself is of high quality, Thai Star may not be the most economical restaurant in Merced for the budget-conscious student. The lunch menus are cheaper than the dinner options, but even then the amount of food served may be less than what one is expecting. The dinners do have more to offer, but the lunch may not be worth the $7.50 price tag. This is probably more of a treat, and not the best restaurant to go to regularly for those on a budget.
Those looking for a new Thai restraint in Merced should try out Thai Star. Similarly, The price tag should not scare away those who have tasted the dishes here. The dessert menu alone is worth going back for, and the prices there are more than reasonable. For those fond of Thai desserts, this restaurant is a true standout, and is definitely worth checking out in the near future.