Mystery Diner

Mystery Diner in Crystal Lake: Krystal Thai shines as delicious dining destination

Asian food is often a go-to takeout option. There’s variety, everyone can get something to their liking, and there’s usually enough left over for lunch the next day.

Then there is the Asian cuisine that’s a destination because the food is superb, and it’s an enjoyable experience worth the trek even in these uncommon times.

That describes the dining experience at Krystal Thai in Crystal Lake. The restaurant has a variety of flavorful options, unique sauces and several surprises throughout the menu. And on a scale of 1 (mild) to a sweat-inducing 6, you can choose how spicy you want your meal seasoned.

The restaurant’s ingredients are fresh, and the meat and fish options plentiful. So, we recently ventured to Krystal Thai for an evening out.

We were in the mood to try a sampling of the extensive menu, and, appropriately, started with the Sampling Platter ($10.95), which included two each of egg rolls, chicken satay, crab in the bag and crab Rangoon, accompanied by peanut and sweet-and-sour dipping sauces and a cucumber salad, which was much more than merely color on the plate. Each item was delectable and unique. The crab Rangoon and chicken satay were our favorites. The first was a nice blend of crab and cream cheese, and the satay, served on a stick, was tender and juicy.

Next was the Krystal Fried Rice ($12.95), a Thai-style fried rice with mixed vegetables, onion and egg topped with spicy, pan-fried shrimp. The shrimp was spicy, but not overpowering, and was prepared with a nice selection of vegetables.

For our entrees, we chose the Stir Fried Basil with Chicken ($11.95), requesting a temperature selection of 4, and the Pad See Ewe with Beef ($10.95), with a heat index of 2.

The Stir Fried Basil with Chicken included fresh basil leaves, garlic, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and the house sauce. The basil provided bold flavor complemented by the vegetable mix. This patron enjoys a shot of spice, and could have gone hotter than 4, but it was a fun dish.

The Pad See Ewe with Beef included wide rice noodles stir-fried with eggs, carrot and Chinese broccoli with a special house sauce. The beef was sliced thin and remained tender as it mingled with the noodles and vegetables. The rice noodles, sometimes a gamble at other locations, were cooked just right. The Pad See Ewe dish had the optimum ratio of sauce to noodles, allowing each bite to include a bit of each ingredient.

Sometimes, you want something beyond the ordinary Asian food experience, and that’s Krystal Thai. It’s definitely making our list as a go-to dining option.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, the Northwest Herald will not publish a story.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Krystal Thai

WHERE: 230 W. Virginia St., Crystal Lake

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday

PHONE: 815-444-0004

INFORMATION: www.krystalthai.com