Nida's Thai is a gem of a restaurant that is more vegetarian-minded than many other of its Thai brethren. The flavorful fare and abundance of meatless options make Nida's a destination for those with a taste for the food from a land once called Siam.
Many Thai restaurants utilize fish sauce as an ingredient in curries as well as in the form of a condiment. Fish sauce is used to bring umami to a dish in much the same way that soy sauce does, and it's a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine. Luckily, the curries at Nida's are completely vegan, and the menu indicates which dishes contain fish sauce. It saves the trouble of having to ask about fish sauce, and I'm a sucker for convenience. The menu is also excellent at pointing out other vegetarian-unfriendly ingredients like shrimp and chicken broth.
Vegetarian starters include veggie spring rolls, fried tofu with sweet and sour sauce, and fried tofu with peanut sauce and cucumber salad. I ordered the peanut sauce tofu, which was a perfectly-fried, savory delight. The texture of the tofu was firm, the peanut sauce adds a rich character to the dish, and the clean flavor of the cucumber salad provides a delightful palate cleanser that wraps the whole thing up in a bow.
There are a variety of curries and noodle dishes on the menu at Nida's. I was most interested in the curries, which showcase a variety of interesting spices and vegetables. Instead of limiting the choices to red, green, yellow and massaman curry, Nida's features six different curries that can all be made with tofu.
I chose the gang kua, a spicy red curry flavored with tamarind and basil with cherry tomatoes, peppers and small pieces of pineapple. The tomatoes and pineapple add a bright, sweet layer to a sauce that is already exploding with flavor.
The lunch menu does not offer the range of choices for vegetarians that the dinner menu does. The dinner menu also has a section of vegetarian specialties that are not on the lunch menu. In addition to catering to vegetarians, Nida's also offers many dishes that are safe for diners that avoid gluten.
Nida's offers a good selection of flavorful cocktails. Service is prompt, friendly and capable. My server did an excellent job addressing questions about vegetarian items on the menu.
Prices at Nida's were fair. Although the menu prices seem low for food of this quality, the portions were a little small. It is advisable to order an appetizer (or even many appetizers to share with the table) along with the entree in order to experience a fully satisfying meal.
Nida's makes great Thai, and it does a tremendous job catering to diners of all shapes, sizes and dietary requirements. The food will appeal to the novice diner, and it's adventurous enough to offer new and exciting options for the seasoned pro.