When it comes to presentation, the chefs at Thai Seafood like to get creative. It's not unusual to find creamy scallop curries served alongside heart-shaped mounds of rice, or sweet mango sticky rice decorated with delicate petals of apples. The chefs also surround nutty cashew chicken with colorful sprinkles of herbs, and top coconut ice cream with fluffy clouds of whipped cream. The only thing that impresses as much as the comprehensive menu of Thai dishes––which includes tangy yellow, red, and green curries, noodles, and fried rice––is the elegant dining room, where white linens drape over burgundy tablecloths and wine glasses play classical music when clinked.
It was 1984 when Gil Lobreck left Bangkok and re-settled in Seabrook, Texas, introducing his new home to traditional Thai dishes in his restaurant, Bay Thai. Almost two decades later, Gil’s son Andrew decided to continue the family tradition by building his own restaurant—Merlion—where he peppers his dad's recipes with occasional American influences to present a new twist on established Thai staples. In addition to making five different curries flavored with everything from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to nutmeg and cloves, Chef Andrew also designs inventive seafood dishes such as wild-caught salmon served with a sake-mushroom cream sauce and wasabi-spiked mashed potatoes. These more creative entrees appear alongside a familiar sounding selection of wok-seared noodle dishes, Thai fried rice, and marinated satay skewers. The terracotta tile floor and apple-red walls of Merlion’s dining room stand out amid the black banquettes and tables draped with crisp white linens. One of the most striking elements, however, is the brick and stone bar, which complements the warm colors and earth tones used throughout the space, and serves as a protective barrier between bartenders and any big bad wolves they refuse to serve.
The Bangkok Chef kitchen is a treasure trove of fresh, exotic ingredients—from juicy mangos to crisp kaffir leaves to fiery chilies. Chefs fold the ingredients into a comprehensive array of traditional Thai specialties, including curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fries. Inside the bustling kitchen, you'll find them flying around stirring tender duck and pineapple into a red curry and peeking into pots of bubbling tom yum soup, ensuring each dish is spiced to perfection. Servers carry dishes out into the bright dining room, where soft lights illuminate intimate tabletops and comfy booths, and expert bartenders blend up lychee martinis and minty mojitos. The restaurant sometimes closes briefly after the lunch rush before reopening in the evening, allowing chefs time to assemble fresh ingredients for dinner or attend rehearsals for the kitchen's upcoming production of Oklahoma!.
The chefs at Anothai Cuisine and Nara Thai Dining grind their own fresh herbs and spices to awaken patrons' tongues with each bite of their Thai dishes. Pungent curry coats seafood, chicken, and noodles, and on the other end of savory-to-sweet spectrum, mango imbues shrimp with flavor that evokes the tropical drinks of which ice fishermen's dreams are made. Artfully arranged garnishes complement colorful dishes to excite the eyes, which can scan the bright red and white accents between bites.
The chefs at Thai Jasmine begin their workday well before lunchtime, assembling the flavorful basil, crisp baby bok choy, and tangy fruits they will need for the day's dishes. They fold the fresh produce, meats, and spices into the authentic Thai specialties lauded by reporters from the Houston Press as "some of the honestly best Thai food in town". The chefs simmer up red, green, and yellow curries with coconut and bamboo shoots, and grill chicken, pork, and beef in a tangy Thai barbeque marinade. And, for dessert, they serve scoops of ice cream with fried bananas and sticky rice. But there is one thing they don't handle: drinks. Luckily, the BYOB eatery welcomes guests to bring beverages purchased at an outside store or squeezed from a roadside cactus.
When ordering a dish at Bangkok Thai Cuisine, you always know what you’ll be getting into. The restaurant classifies its dishes according to four levels of spice: mild, medium, spicy, and Thai hot. The last of these is reserved for those brave diners whose dietary staples consist of jalapenos, deep-fried chilies, and dragon meat. The rest appeal to a more diverse crowd and include highlights such as sweet-and-sour tilapia and eggplant with basil. Despite the menu’s penchant for customization, there’s only one word to describe Bangkok Thai’s dining room: warm. Chairs of rich cherry wood juxtapose spotless white tablecloths, and plants bask in the glow of small red lanterns that hang from the walls.