Tea Rose Diner
65 E. 5th Avenue (4880 S)
Murray, Utah 84107
Breakfast and Lunch
Monday - Sunday 9a.m.–3p.m.
Tuesday - Saturday 5p.m.–9p.m.
What makes the Tea Rose Diner special is the pure ambition of the place—it is the biggest tiny restaurant I’ve ever been in love with. For dinner, they make a perfectly excellent and unique rendition of Thai food (also available in vegan versions). The curries and soups are never too sweet, and the dark, somewhat citrus flavored seed, tamarind, is prominent in the cooking—which I found surprising because I didn’t think I liked tamarind, but here it is, simply delicious. They also have one of the most original breakfast menus I’ve ever seen.
The TRD proudly serves many different teas and are a worthy dining companion at $3 a pot, as there is no beer. Their unusual selection of ice cream is house made, hugely adventurous, and even available in a vegan version at the new 7200 S. location, (at which I have not yet eaten). The TRD also serves a great rendition of American food, with generously portioned breakfast items in surprising combinations and notable alternative options like a tasty vegan pancake. The dinner items are working-man style: Everybody else seemed to be eating Corned Beef and Cabbage ($10) on this Tuesday.
I was there for more than just the pleasure of the food: I was on a mission.
The Tea Rose Diner has a Hot Curry wall of fame. Taped to the door are eight pictures of smiling people holding up empty bowls. I can tell you, that smile is the punch drunk grin of the recently victorious gastric prizefighter. Now that I have joined them, I can also tell you that the day that followed the moment of that photo was difficult and long.
I started this assignment knowing I had to take the Curry Challenge, which meant I had to eat a bowl of curry prepared at level five hot, followed by a seven, and then a 10. When I first asked for a five, they wouldn’t serve it to me. I literally had to demand permission to order it before the server would let me get started. I requested an unusual curry, Kow Soi ($10). Lurking beneath what looks like an innocent salad of cucumber, sprouts and carrot is a cauldron of very spicy, unmanageable brown curry and egg noodles. It tastes fresh and rich with tamarind—I’ve never had a curry like it. I wish I had eaten a regular version because, brother, a five here is hot as hell. The five was scary, but doable, and enjoyable in the end—not a little unlike digging a grave in the desert and then not getting shot. It ate like there was potential trouble in every bite.