It had been quite some time since we’d indulged ourselves by going out to eat one of our favourite world cuisines, Thai. But a rave online food review did its job by making me crave a Thai hit at the Ruen Thai restaurant in Puerto de la Cruz.
First impressions of the Ruen Thai near the Puerto Palace was that it wasn’t quite like any other Thai restaurant we’d been to. It was big, bright with jaunty piped music and didn’t exude that calming elegance that is characteristic of Thai places.
Second impression was that the waitresses were Spanish. I guess you don’t have to be Thai to work in a Thai restaurant and they were very friendly and efficient. But by this point we were starting to wonder what was Thai about the Thai Ruen.
The menu didn’t help with the distinct lack of a Thai vibe. There was no tod man pla.
A Taste of Thailand?: The Food at Ruen Thai
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a Thai restaurant that didn’t have tod man pla (Thai fish cakes) but it’s a big country and there are regional variations. What the menu did have was 20+ curries including Thai favourites – reds, greens and yellows.
In the absence of the sort of Thai starters we like, we opted for Vietnamese spring rolls filled with pork and prawns and little half moon pies with potato and curry. Both were light, crispy and nicely savoury, especially when perked up with a picante dip. The potato pies were a wee bit dry but that didn’t really make them any less tasty.
For the main course we decided to test the hot factor by picking stir fried pork with red curry and basil, which came with a maximum ‘3 chilli pepper’ warning on the menu, and a less dangerous ‘2 chilli pepper’ stir fried beef with red pepper and basil.
We know that people here on Tenerife aren’t big fans of spicy food and maybe that had a bearing on why a ‘3 chilli’ dish had a slight kick but nothing more and a ‘2 chilli’ one had the kick of a claw-less kitten.
Saying that, we enjoyed both dishes – the pork and beef were both lean and tender and the sauces flavoursome. Mine was like a rich oyster sauce. They were nicely cooked and the portions were a good size. If we’d been eating in a Chinese restaurant we’d have been more than satisfied.
But this was supposed to be a Thai treat and tasty though the food was, it didn’t have that mix of perfumed flavours that characterises Thai cuisine.
Andy didn’t bother with a dessert as they consisted of those ‘shipped in’ little glass bowls that you can find in a lot of restaurants here but I took their advice and tried the house speciality, tapioca.
It’s one of the few times that I’ve not been able to finish a dish – I didn’t get on at all with the chunks of tapioca ‘pearls’.
I usually think I’m a good judge of whether I can trust a restaurant review or not and although I believe the one that drew us to Ruan Thai was completely honest, I don’t think they knew their Thai food. The food at the Ruen Thai wasn’t like Thai food we’ve eaten in various visits to Thailand or even in Thai restaurants in Britain.
It was good food and well prepared, but we felt we’d eaten a Chinese meal rather than a Thai one.
To be fair to the Ruen Thai when you look at the small print under the sign and on the menu it says ‘Cocina Asiática’ (Asian cuisine) which is probably more accurate.
If you’re after good Asian cuisine then I can recommend the Ruen Thai; for a Thai hit, look elsewhere.
Still, the Singha beer was authentic.
Restaurant Ruen Thai; C/Dr. Celestino Cobiello Zaera (beneath the Hotel Puerto Palace); Puerto de la Cruz; (+34) 922 376 946; main courses average €8; open midday to 4pm and 7 to 11pm daily).
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+