Summary: Standard Thai food at average prices in a cute, cottage-style atmosphere.
As I entered Thai Garden, the first thing I thought of was not of a garden, Thai or otherwise, but of an English cottage, such is the profusion of (fake) plants and flowers that adorn the dining room. A large wooden cupboard, while clearly Thai, actually adds to the effect. The waitresses dressed in traditional Thai costumes do not, but do help make the place look special. In all, it's a very pleasant atmosphere. Alas, they need to pay more attention to detail. Our table had a short leg and was unbalanced.
The menu features standard Thai dishes, most priced less than $10. Dinner started with complimentary foamy chips (shrimp chips?) with a delicious thick sweet and sour plum sauce and that was possibly the highlight of the meal. For appetizers we ordered spring rolls and chicken satay ($6). The spring rolls were served very hot and they were very greasy. Mike didn't like them at first, but they grew on him. I thought they had a disconcerting tea leaf flavor. They were served with the standard sweet & sour sauce which was good, though there was barely enough of it. The five pieces of chicken satay were good, fresh, nicely marinated though a bit on the salty side, and moist enough. They came with a tiny serving of peanut sauce, which was good though too delicately flavored for the chicken.
No sooner were our appetizer plates removed, than our entrees were served. I had the penang beef ($9) with rice (an extra $1.50 pp) and I wasn't impressed. The beef was tender but had a chalky consistency. The sauce was tasty with just the right level of spiciness, but it was flat and boring. The dish consisted of beef and sauce only, a few basil leaves floated on top but were not incorporated into the sauce. In all, I'd say I was disappointed.
Mike felt the same way about his pad thai; it didn't impress him. I liked it, though. I thought it was well spiced and I liked that the carrots and beans were served on the side.
Despite its average food, Thai Garden has the distinction of being (AFAIK) the closest Thai restaurant to San Leandro. For that reason alone, I'm sure we'll go again.
20955 Mission Blvd
Hayward, CA 94541