I had lunch with my friend today at Royal Orchid. Absolutely delicious.
Immaculately clean.. comfortable seating with lovely Thai silk pillows.
Waitresses dressed in traditional Thai dress., charming. The chickem panang was so delicious I could have licked the plate..
I will certainly return.
I really love Thai cuisine. In fact, it is my favorite style of cooking from the Far East. So, I was thrilled to discover the Royal Orchid on SR 200, almost directly across from the Paddock Mall. I wanted to surprise my wife on her birthday by taking her to a nice restaurant. After reading some of the less-than-flattering reviews online, which in retrospect were probably written by the kind of sourpusses who go to restaurants just to be rude, tip cheaply and find something to complain about, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Frankly, from the outside it doesn’t look like much: just another storefront in a little strip mall. But the moment we entered, we were enchanted. The décor immediately transported us to ancient Siam with booths on the left side and tables in the middle. There is even one traditional place setting, where the customers sit on pillows on the floor and eat on a very low table. We chose a booth since the high bench backs offer a bit more privacy. One of the negative reviewers had complained that the booths were uncomfortable but this is nonsense! First, the benches are, each, supplied with extremely plush satin-covered pillows, which my wife chose to use. But even though I have some seriously painful back problems, I didn’t use the pillows and, even though we were there for a couple of hours, I never experienced any discomfort. And the entire restaurant is extremely clean, too!
The serving staff are lovely, graceful young Thai women clothed in traditional ankle-length dresses. The only thing that’s a bit incongruous is that, instead of being barefoot or wearing sandals, they wear running shoes. But considering how many hours they are on their feet, I can’t say that I blame them. We have enjoyed dinner there on a number of occasions so we have been served by several different women. Their English is heavily accented but they certainly speak much better English than I speak Thai. They are very soft-spoken and extremely polite, not to mention extremely attentive to their customers. They certainly make me feel like a beloved and respected elder relative. The last time we were there, our server even expressed genuine concern about my driving home after drinking several little ceramic bottles of hot rice wine and a couple of beers. I was touched by this, not insulted.
As for the food: another naysayer complained that the food was bland and tasteless. Really? Now, I prefer really spicy, hot food. So much so that I have had to tone down the peppers a bit when I cook for my wife because I like things MUCH hotter than she can handle. Let me put it this way: I have NEVER met a hot pepper I didn’t like! “Royal Orchid” offers a varied menu: everything from seafood, pork ands beef to vegetarian. Some of the choices have a little red chili pepper next to them on the menu to indicate that they are hot. We are vegetarian so I can’t comment on the other menu choices but I find their food to be VERY flavorful and if it isn’t hot enough for me, they bring me a small tray with several little covered pots each containing a different type of chili sauce: a milder red sauce, a hotter green sauce and a regular flamethrower gray powder. So, mild or wild, their menu is extensive and will satisfy any taste. And if you like beer, be sure to try a bottle of Sing Ha, a fine Thai beer. The seaweed soup is outstanding, too. They, also, have a nice selection of desserts for those of you with a sweet-tooth.
The Royal Orchid has become our favorite restaurant in Ocala and I recommend it highly. Enjoy!
I am in love with this place, I go at least twice a week. I love the service and the atmosphere. The food is fabulous and I love all the spices and textures. May I suggest The Chicken Pad Thai and the Amazing Chicken. Ocala should be proud of such a restaurant.