Voted Best Thai restaurant in 2009 and Best Restaurant for a First Date in 2008 by Creative Loafing, Spoon boasts a menu that is simple yet playful. Chef Aim Suteeluxnaporn, who runs Spoon with her sister Sujaree, adds spicy twists to authentic Thai mainstays such as chicken satay ($8), pad thai ($8 lunch, $9 dinner), and red curry with eggplant and zucchini ($11 for dinner), serving them as works of edible art presented on inedible plate-frames. Like the new Butterfinger candy bar, noodles, curry dishes, stir-fries, and seafood can be prepared medium spicy, hot, or Thai hot. The eatery's specialty entrees include the golden red snapper ($17) topped with a light ginger sauce and toasted sesame seeds. All entrees can be specially prepared with either tofu or vegetables to accommodate vegetarians.
At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.