I'm always looking for good food, and since Thai is my favorite, my husband and I went to try Nidda Thai on Westheimer on the recommendation of a half-Thai friend (this same friend recommended Asia Market and Vieng Thai). I normally eat Thai on the Bellaire strip and was hoping to find an authentic experience that makes it worth a drive inside the loop.
We were greeted by an attentive, cheery female server with a delightful accent, and asked her to recommend something "really Thai". She strongly suggested the Thai toast, made with chicken instead of shrimp, the "Fish in the Garden," a deep fried fish topped with vegetables and Thai sauce, and a duck with basil saying that these were dishes that her Thai patrons always ordered. Sounded great, so we ordered all her recommendations.
We noticed her scurrying around the packed restaurant and it was evident that they were understaffed for a Saturday night, with just 1 other server and maybe 1 busboy. As a result, she delivered the drinks but not the water, the utensils, but not the chopsticks. Not really her fault - just the fact that she was running around as if her head was chopped off. She was conscientious and that definitely scored points, but the service could definitely have been better. The first dish, the Thai toast, was served with a side of fresh cucumber sweet n sour dip, a typical Thai condiment. The dish itself tasted good, but it was dripping in oil. I had to ask for paper napkin to soak up the excess. The second dish, and the highlight of the night, was the "fish in the garden". The fish was perfectly crisped, the melange of flavors very Thai but not too spicy, a hodgepodge of lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, chili - whatever was in the sauce, it worked and we happily devoured the entire dish. The duck with basil was another matter. One bite into the duck breast and my senses were impaled by what I can only describe as a "stinky gaminess". They had somehow managed to trap all the filthiness of the duck and seared it into the meat. Maybe they forgot to clean the duck before cooking it, whatever it was, I almost gagged. When the server asked us how the dinner was, we complimented her on the first 2 suggestions and told her the 3rd dish was was inedible. She apologized and told us she should have suggested some other seafood dish to us instead.
The bill came out to $49 for the 3 dishes plus 2 drinks, exclusive of tip. The two specialty dishes were $15.95 each. The same meal in Chinatown would have cost about $30, so the final verdict? If I didn't have any other options, I would go back, give it another shot, but since I can find cheaper, and arguably better tasting Thai nearer to my home, this one's going to be a one-off.