WEST VALLEY CITY — Is there such a thing as a bad Thai restaurant in these parts?

I ask because I just tried another one, based on an enthusiastic reader recommendation, and it was great. Gracious, low-key service, fresh ingredients, a huge menu of Thai and Chinese choices ranging from familiar to exotic.

Thai-Chinese Fast Food, tucked modestly into the corner of a building in a heavily industrial stretch of 900 West, is a popular local lunch spot. From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, patrons choose one to four items from about a dozen ready-made menu selections for a quick, hot lunch.

But in the evenings and on Saturday, that big, enticing menu comes out. That's when we visited Thai-Chinese, for a weeknight family dinner.

We started, of course, with the chicken satay. I don't think I'd survive the kid assault if I tried NOT to order satay at a Thai place. Not that I mind, as long as it's good, and Thai-Chinese's version is very nice, stretched-out lengths of skewered juicy chicken with a chewy, slightly sweet browned exterior. We had plenty of peanut sauce for dunking.

We also had an order of Thai egg rolls, and these stood out even compared with some of the valley's more famous Thai eateries with their crisp (but not greasy) skins stuffed full of savory ground pork, cellophane noodles and veggies. They're tasty as is but better dipped in the accompanying sweet-and-sour sauce, which had a unique spicy finish.

We had a plate of Thai barbecue, opting for the beef brisket, which arrived sliced and arranged simply with greens. The meat was fatty in the way of many briskets, and a little dry, but it was tender and interestingly seasoned, with chili sauce on the side.

After some discussion with our server, I tried the red chicken curry, a blush-pink dish of heavenly, lean chicken, red bell peppers, bamboo shoots and whole little mushrooms that has a demonic kick. It was definitely spicy, but the heat never overwhelmed the flavors of curry, Thai basil and coconut milk.

Our server also thought the kids might like some pad Thai, and she was right. If you like the sweet, nutty flavors of this classic dish, Thai-Chinese's version is a sterling example, hot and fresh with chicken, bean sprouts, green onion, egg and ground peanuts.

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Because this is also a Chinese restaurant, we were able to order a nice, hot plate of ham-fried rice, fresh and savory with lots of ham, peas, onion, carrots and tomatoes. Like so much Thai food, it's fresher than many Chinese-style versions.

For dessert, we had a crispy ball of fried ice cream with chocolate sauce, cream and a cherry, and (my favorite) a steaming plate of sweet, creamy sticky rice with a silky drizzle of coconut milk on top.

Appetizers $3.72-$3.99, soup and salad $4.65-$8.83, entrees $6.97-$27.88, desserts $1-$4.50.

Rating: ***

Where: 2575 S. 900 West, West Valley City

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: No checks accepted

Phone: 886-1410

Wheelchair access: Easy

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com