OK so some of the followers of the NFTJ blog might have seen mention of “my boyfriend Jim”. Well I was finally “coerced” into writing a review of a truck. The truck I chose to review is 1 of the first trucks in Nashville I ate at over a year ago, Deg Thai. But before I get to the review, perhaps a tiny little bit of background on me?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area, San Jose CA to be exact. Growing up in CA there were always taco trucks and “roach coaches” around. I loved the $5 “baby arm” sized burritos since I can remember. Street food is some of the best eats around, if you ask me. I left CA and moved north to the Portland OR area in 1999. This is really where my love for craft beer and killer food grew to more than a “passion”. Folks that know me, know that the term “passion” doesn’t have enough vigor. My opinions are strong, in either direction, and I will let you know, whether you want to hear them or not. Sorry! But on the upside, you will get wholehearted honesty every time. Well anyways enough of that junk onto the food, it’s why you are here anyways!
Let me introduce and give a little background on the chef, owner, and head man in charge, Jay. Jay was born and raised in Bangkok Thailand (cue Murray Head) and is part Italian! He moved to Nashville in 2004 and as with many immigrants to the U.S., chose Nashville because he had a relative here already. He learned to cook as a child in the kitchen with his mother in Thailand. He honed his chops here in Nashville working at nearly all of the local Thai joints. He said he decided on a truck because he wanted to make Thai food taste the way he wanted it to, not the way the owner of the place told him to make it. I asked Jay about the future of Deg Thai and what he sees for it. He says he has zero interest in a “brick & mortar” restaurant. He enjoys the variety and excitement that a new location brings everyday. He also adds that being in a “kitchen” you miss out on the chance to chat with folks and talk with them about his food. Not to mention the comedy that ensues when both you and your work mate leave the truck to have a smoke and talk with me, only to realize that the keys to the truck are in the ignition and the door locked behind you! Yeah that’s right! While we were standing outside the truck in the cold talking they realized they locked themselves out of the truck. Jay did his best Oceans 11 impression and shimmied his way through the drivers window to snag the keys. Sorry Jay, I know I told ya I wouldn’t tell anybody, but its a funny visual. Least I didn’t post a pic of the scene!
I first ate at the Deg Thai truck, seems like a year ago. When I met Jay it was a chilly Thursday night outside Tobacco Road Cigar Shop in Nashville he was already very busy. I told him I wanted 1 of everything! If that wasnt bad enough for him I also had the OG NFTJ Julie with me and my Mom and her boyfriend from CA in tow. The 3 others ordered what they were going to eat for dinner. So he had 3 other dishes to prepare for them as well! He told me to give him 20 minutes to bang it all out, but he would bring it inside to us.
So since all of us enjoy cigars, besides Julie, we went inside. I will tell you if you plan on hitting up any trucks here. It is smoky inside. Duh its a cigar shop so that is a given. Even though it seemed overpowering at first, it wasn’t bad after a minute and eating didn’t seem to be bothered by the smoke. We ordered some beers (decent craft beer selection), grabbed a cigar and sat down to chill. It didn’t seem like 20 mins, but boom the food started coming in. First we got the spring rolls, double order to be exact!
These are traditional Spring Rolls with a nice light dipping sauce. The sauce is a wee bit sweet, and a wee bit sour. It is very light and nearly watery. Not much to say here. Who doesn’t like shredded veggies in an egg roll wrapper fried up to crispy perfection? I mean I guess I could talk about the freshness of the veggies inside, or perhaps how nice and tight the rolls were wrapped. But come on, the best part? They taste great and you get 3 to an order!
Next to arrive were Julie’s meal. I was able to “sample” the Massaman Wrap that she ordered. I was lucky to get the 2 bites I did get as she DID NOT want to share that thing with me AT ALL!
The Massaman Man consists of your choice of meat or tofu in a Yellow Curry. Along with fresh Romaine lettuce and Red Onion, wrapped up snug in a thick warm flat bread. I will admit, I don’t like Curry. But I have learned that in fact its Indian Curry I don’t care too much for. I have however fallen in love with Thai Curry. This was the first time I’ve had Yellow Curry and boy was I sad I had waited so damn long. This Curry was savory and satisfying and the heat was slight but came on as you ate it. Giving you that “O.M.G. I can’t eat this fast enough” feeling. Like I said I was lucky to get the 2 bites I did get that night! I can see why this was voted best Sandwich at the 2012 Nashville Street Food Awards this year. Don’t sleep on this 1 people. If you are anywhere near Deg Thai and haven’t tried them yet, Start Here!
OK so everything from here on out was a mad blur of food, flavors, moans and groans, explicatives, and all around awesomeness. So I will just post pics and talk about each 1 best I can.
The Tiger Tear Salad is thin sliced steak spiced up to your liking and layed on a bed of fresh Romaine, Tomatoes, Red Onion and chunky Cucumbers. Let me just say this. This is a Salad that eats like a meal. First the salad by itself is good, with fresh crunchy ingredients. But the steak on top is just fantastic. Perfectly cooked and prepared with Jays fiery sauce. I can see why this won 1st Runner up in “Best Hot” at the 2012 Nashville Street Food Awards. Fellas get this and tell the wife, “Hey I ate a salad for lunch!”
Now my favorite Thai Curry is Green Curry, but this was just flat-out great. As with anything from Deg Thai you can tweak the heat on the sauce to your liking. I told Jay Hot on everything. And he delivered. No it was not “Native” hot, but that’s OK I don’t need chemical burns on my lips, again!
This dish has Baby Corn, Red Bell Peppers, and lots of fresh Basil. I think one of the things I love about Thai food, besides spicy sauces, is the abundance of Basil! The Pork was cooked perfectly and sliced just thick enough that it doesn’t lose itself in the sauce All of the rice is the same from dish to dish. Perfectly steamed Jasmine rice, with just a tiny bit of Red Rice thrown in for color and texture.
This is one of the first dishes I ever had from Deg Thai and it never ceases to deliver each and every time after. As with all dishes from the truck you dial up the spiciness of the sauce to your liking. Then Jay goes to work. Adding in Red & Green Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Baby Corn, and just a touch of Basil. The spicy, sweet, sauce sets this dish off. The veggies play well and add a nice mild crunch to the dish. The slight flavor of Basil works well and doesn’t get in the way or get lost in the dish.
With all the tasty options Deg Thai offers it’s really hard to beat this one! Tender strips of Beef cooked perfectly. Paired again with Red Bells, Baby Corn, and Mushrooms, this dish is given a healthy portion of Basil to really set the flavor off! There is something about the screamin spicy sauce and all that fresh Basil that really gets your tongue going nuts. This dish shuts off all communication from the mouth to the stomach and your taste buds reap the rewards of this insubordination!
The only thing I didn’t get a pic of was the amazing Thai Tea! (although you can faintly see it in the background of the Massaman pic) The Thai Tea is well worth every single penny of the $3 Jay charges. It is sweet, slightly rich, almost decadent, relief from the heat that you need. Do yourself a favor and skip the soda. Get this Tea and round out your Deg Thai experience properly!