Within a five minute walk in Wakefield, you will now find four Thai restaurants, one of which recently opened. Is that too many? Should this new Thai spot have opened up in an area which already had three other Thai places? Why didn't it choose Reading or Stoneham, which both only have a single Thai restaurant?
Of the three prior Thai spots in Wakefield: I like the food at the Duck Walk but find it pricey. I like the food at Porchai's Thai Cuisine though the ambiance is lacking. I am not a big fan of the Red Sugar Cafe, finding the food to be uneven. So for me, there is room in Wakefield for a new Thai place which can excel.
Phu Ket (which lacks a website) took over the spot of the former Zalek's Roast Beef at 21 Princess Street in Wakefield. It is a small, L-shaped restaurant with an outside patio and its large exterior windows make for a bright spot which seems larger than it is. I have dined there for lunch three times so far, and each experience has been positive, satisfying me more with each visit.
They serve beer and wine, though I didn't order anything on my visits. A quick scan of their offerings showed most of the usual suspects, and nothing which really excited me. Their food menu is fairly extensive including sections for Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Noodles & Fried Rice, Curry Offerings, Grilled, Sauteed Specialties, Seafood Offerings and Sides. For lunch, they also sell numerous bento-style boxes, which come with crispy rolls. Prices are reasonable, especially considering the portion size you receive. Appetizers generally run $6-9 and most lunch dishes also run $7-$10. Dinner courses generally run $10-$19.
From the Appetizers, I thoroughly enjoyed the Saigon Dices ($7), diced beef marinated and sauteed, over a bed of cucumber slices. The tender pieces of beef had a compelling dark gravy which was tasty over rice. Highly recommended. The Tenderloin Pork & Sticky Rice ($8) have slices of tender pork, in a light, delicious gravy with a chunk of sticky, white rice. Another recommended dish. The Steamed Wontons ($6) are filled with pork & shrimp and come in a red vinegar soy sauce while the Pork Dumplings ($6) and fried and accompanied by a sweet, soy sauce. Both are good, though not much different than what you will find elsewhere. The Whale Tails ($7) are better, plump shrimp wrapped in crispy, egg roll skins with a sweet plum sauce. The Fresh Garden Wrapped ($7) was also an excellent choice, a crunchy treat of grilled chicken, lettuce, carrots, rice noodles and cucumbers wrapped in a fresh rice paper. Though the wrapper is a bit sticky, this is a healthy and tasty dish which comes with a light sauce, with ground peanuts, for dipping.
They have five different Soups, all for $5 except for one at $7. The Wonton Soup was a large dish of savory broth with several shrimp & pork wontons and baby bok-choy. The broth had far more flavor than many of the other wonton soups you find elsewhere. The Spicy Lobster Soup ($7) was phenomenally good, with lobster pieces and jasmine rice in a spicy, coconut lemongrass soup. Though I would have preferred it to be hotter, the melange of flavors impressed me, as well as the amount of lobster in it. There was a prominent coconut flavor, a nice spiciness and hints of lemongrass. Highly recommended.
The Noodles With Tender Beef ($8) are stir fried rice noodles with beef, egg, bean sprouts and broccoli. The noodles seem to be Biángbiáng, which are very wide, ribbon cut rice noodles. They are very filling and I might have preferred a thinner noodle. The beef though was excellent, tender and quite full of flavor. I could have easily devoured a huge bowl of the beef alone. The Masaman Curry with Chicken ($7), comes with carrots, sweet potatoes, potato, onions and peanuts. The curry sauce had a dominant coconut flavor with the addition of other complementary spices. The chicken was tender and plentiful, and the veggies too were cooked nicely.
Service was excellent, pleasant and responsive. Though new, Phu Ket is already presenting some delicious food at good prices. I feel confident that the restaurant will get even better with a little time to work out any initial kinks. It is a worthy addition to the Wakefield restaurant scene, despite the presence of the three other Thai spots. Phu Ket also delivers within a two mile radius and is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Give Phu Ket a try.