A Dining Review of Ubon Thai Cuisine Restaurant in Wilmington: Owned by Wit Milburn of Jeenwong’s Fame
Ubon brings the heat to the Riverfront.
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Luckily, Milburn brought the meatballs and many of his family’s recipes to Ubon. Look no further than the Floating Market—an appetizer sampler that combines recipes from all three generations onto one plate: Wit’s Thai guy chicken wings, grandma Sirda’s famous egg rolls and mom Kamphon’s momochas dumplings.
Thai guy wings, on a cold winter day, were a revelation. A sinus-clearing chile sauce clung to crispy skin, emanating a strong acid hit of dried peppers. A few Tiger beers and a football game was all I needed. Momochas—egg noodles stuffed with a hearty mix of crab, shredded chicken and veggies—dripped with too much grease for my tastes. A tad more finesse engendered great things in som tam salad, a crunchy, fresh slaw of green papaya, long beans and crisp veggies and basil leaves, barely dampened with sweet and sour vinaigrette. Though, sadly, it was not prepared tableside as advertised, it did render a fresh element to my meal that cut right through all the hot chiles and rich sauces.
Thai standards fared equally well. Ubon’s pad Thai (always a good litmus test) stood sturdy with a well-balanced mélange of tofu, plump shrimp, rice noodles and veggies. More vital was Milburn’s deft hand at seasoning, as he never once let the potential powder keg of fish sauce and tamarind juice overwhelm his dish. Instead, the normally strong seasonings slithered through the ingredients silently, leaving traces of sweet, sour and salty, the coveted Bingo board of Thai cuisine.
Elsewhere, Ubon’s fried rice packed a punch that far exceeded the dish’s boilerplate reputation, but the same couldn’t be said for pad see ew, a broad-noodle stirfry. Its light, soy flavors paled in contrast to Ubon’s flashier dishes.
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