Let’s get right to it: Yakitori is grilled chicken, and in this vegan review of Yakitori #5 & Thai Kitchen, it’s off the table. The chicken isn’t plant-based nor do they have a vegetable version. This review is all about the Thai food and it’s worth writing about.
One of the tricky things about ordering vegan at Thai restaurants is avoiding fish sauce and shrimp often found in curry paste. Yakitori #5 & Thai Kitchen makes it clear on the front of the menu that most of the Thai dishes are suitable for vegetarians. Both vegans and vegetarians avoid fish and shrimp, so I knew I was off to a good start.
Then I spoke with Chef Naya, who confirmed that when one orders their food vegan, she opts for the house-made curry, based in a bean curd paste. The curries are simmered in coconut milk, which she makes in house from actual coconuts. If you’re thinking this sounds incredibly fresh, you’re right. And that clean taste comes through, too.
The menu is really extensive, so I’m going to make this easy for you. There is a vegan option or two in the appetizer, vegetarian special, noodle special and Thai healthy special sections.
To start, the egg rolls (2 for $2.95) and fresh spring rolls with tofu (2 for $6.25) are vegan as is. And they may seem to be the obvious choice in a Thai restaurant. But the third vegan option? Well, I simply could not resist onion rings (6 pieces for $4.25).
Do you know how hard it is to find vegan onion rings? Each crunchy fried bite was worth every calorie (just ask them to hold the ranch dip and request the house sauce). And speaking of that sauce, it’s served with the fourth vegan appetizer, the Golden Triangle ($4.95). Four crisp pieces of tofu, soft on the inside, are served with a small bowl of peanuts swimming in pineapple sauce, a clever take on peanut sauce.
Hold on to that sauce because it’s actually quite good on the YakiSoba ($8.95 lunch; $9.95 dinner). Pan-friend soba noodles are the base for a very bright dish. Colorful vegetables, including bok choy, zucchini, carrots and red pepper, are tossed into the stir fry. This is an incredibly healthy choice and, truthfully, a bit bland. Until I poured the remaining pineapple sauce and peanuts over it, that is. You can also boost up the protein and flavor profiles by ordering it with tofu.
The star of the show and the reason I will keep coming back is the curry. Opting for a nourishing, warm bowl on a seasonably cold afternoon, the Mussaman curry ($9.95 lunch; $10.95 dinner) with tofu was everything I look for in both a healthy and tasty plant-based. A delightful combination of sweet and white potatoes float in a creamy coconut curry that, when ordered mild, doesn’t bring any fire to the tongue but does warm the belly. Slender ribbons of fried tofu, onion, carrots and bell pepper round out the bowl perfectly.
Yakitori # 5 & Thai Kitchen is a surprising gem tucked in an interesting strip mall on Delmonico Drive. It’s clear that Chef Naya has a following based on the number of times I heard her refer to regular customers as “dear” and “friend.” And I get it. I felt like I walked into her kitchen and was treated as a welcomed guest.