“Are you finished?” the server asks.
“We’re done with our entrees, but we’d like to order dessert,” I tell her.
“OK, thanks,” she replies, dropping our check on the table and walking away, never to return.
My dinner companions and I just look at each other and shrug our shoulders.
Such can be the experience of dining at Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine, an eight-month-old restaurant in downtown Mesa.
Service, though well-intentioned, sometimes comes up short. Your water glass can go unfilled. You can sit for a while before finally getting your check.
And sometimes you can go without dessert — although, in fairness, I’m pretty sure this particular Thai server, who spoke limited English, simply didn’t understand me.
You may recognize owner Nunthaporn Treekamol from when she owned another Mesa restaurant, the well-respected Benjarong Thai. In June, she took over the recently closed Christel’s Bavarian Deli on the southwest corner of Main and Center streets.
The remodeled 2,100-square-foot space has a clean, mostly contemporary feel, and the removal of the drop ceiling lends an airiness.
The menu features more than 60 traditional Thai dishes, along with a few unusual twists. About two-thirds of the dishes are $10 or less.
I recommend you start with Nunthaporn’s version of Thai toast ($6), eight bread triangles topped with seasoned ground chicken and then deep-fried, making sort of a non-sweet French toast that’s served with a delicious mild chili sauce.
Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes, and Nunthaporn’s is outstanding. Besides the traditional rice noodles, bean sprouts, egg and tamarind sauce, sweetened radish is added for a slightly sugary taste.
Like most dishes on the menu, you get a choice of protein — chicken, beef, pork, fish, shrimp or tofu.
Over the months, I’ve steadily worked my way through the lineup — spicy basil ground chicken, sweet and sour pork, Massaman curry beef, basil fried rice — and I’ve yet to find a dish I didn’t enjoy.
You even can try a Thai beer, such as a Singha or a slightly stronger Chang ($4 per bottle), both friendly to the American palate.
It should be pointed out the level of spiciness in any dish can be confusing. The menu lists three levels: no stars, one star (mild) and two stars (spicy). Sometimes a server will say there are only two (mild or spicy), and other times four (mild, hot, very hot and “Thai hot”).
But this confusion shouldn’t deter you from trying Nunthaporn’s. Like the uneven service, it’s just something to keep in mind — along with the knowledge that Sweet Cakes recently opened a frozen yogurt shop next door.
In case you feel like dessert.
Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine
Where: 17 W. Main St., Mesa
Open: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday for lunch; 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday for dinner
Prices: Appetizers $5-$7, soups $5-$8, salads $8-$14, entrees $8-$15
Info: (480) 649-6140
(Photos by Tim Hacker, East Valley Tribune)