Within the cozy confines of Thai & Sushi's scarlet-walled eatery, taste buds can surf the fusion of flavors surging through a menu teeming with traditional Thai dishes and Japanese-style sushi platters. Tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab, and masago snuggle in a blanket of avocado and soy nori bedded down in the pineapple-slathered Hawaiian roll ($11.95). Olympic-medaled vegetable rolls lithely springboard from a platform of cucumber, avocado, asparagus, inari, and shiitake mushrooms into awaiting mouth caverns ($8) and pad thai chicken roosts in a spicy nest of rice noodles ($9.75). The sweet aroma of fresh ginger mingles with the sizzling serenade of chicken, beef, or pork and a garden-torn quartet of onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and expatriated lawn gnomes ($9.95).
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.
Locally sourced produce and meats mingle with imported Thai spices on Surin's hefty menu, which considerately calls out spicy dishes with 0–3 chili-pepper symbols. Embark on an epicurean adventure to Southeast Asia with a helping of fancy Thai sausages ($6.50) or a suitcase filled with the tender beef fillets and spices of the nuer nom tok ($9.50), served with crisp cabbage leaves for wrapping. Shrimp and asparagus offer companionship to the star crustaceans of the soft-shell crab dish ($18), and egg, broccoli, and garlic exhibit their friendliness by offering to french-braid the flat noodles of the pad see-u entree ($10.50). Chefs can whip up Thai curries in three levels of spiciness, the highest of which comes with its own tongue-cooling ice sculpture melted into a water glass.
Housed in the W Atlanta-Midtown, Spice Market bursts with the rich colors and flavors of Southeast Asia. Owner and chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten takes diners on a whirlwind tour of New Delhi, Bangkok, and Saigon via delicately spiced dishes. Begin your journey with toothsome peekytoe-crab dumplings served with sugar snap peas ($15) or spiced chicken samosas dipped in cilantro yogurt ($8). All dishes are served family style, inviting diners to set aside bitter primogeniture disputes and grandfather each other in to heaping platters of sautéed snapper with asparagus and shitake mushrooms ($24). The aromatic grilled strip steak rubbed in garlic, coriander, and sesame ($28) separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the girls from the boys if they get too rowdy at co-ed canoe camp. Refresh your palate with a signature cocktail such as the lychee-raspberry Bellini (Cava Brut Reserva 06 Mont Marcal, lychee, and raspberry, $12), or knock back an Asian beer such as Kirin, Singha, Tsing Tao and Kingfisher (each $5). For dessert, nibble Ovaltine kulfi with caramelized banana and spiced milk-chocolate sauce ($7).
Mali Restaurant offers menus of fresh sushi and traditional Thai fare in a warm, chic setting. Lunchtime diners can sample starters such as the customer favorite basil rolls filled with homemade barbecued pork, shrimp, noodles, and vegetables, served with dip-encouraging tamarind sauce ($5). Make it a seasoning motif with a main course of Chinese eggplant with basil, sautéed with onion and pepper in a spicy basil sauce ($8). Dinner partakers can wake drowsing taste buds with an appetizer of satay marinated in Thai herbs and curry powder ($9) or nosh on sushi selections such as the hole-free bagel roll filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and scallion ($6.50). Entrees include classic noodle dishes as well as mouth-watering meats such as the grilled duck breast with red curry, bedecked with pineapple, peach, and vegetables ($16). Yowling sweet teeth can be silenced with a dessert of fried banana with coconut ice cream ($7), while of-age appetites can be sated with a quaff such as the restaurant's own Thai tea-ni ($8), a blend of tea-infused and vanilla vodkas, sweetened Thai tea, and milk, sure to whet whistles and inspire whistles and soft-shoe routines of admiration.
On Iron Chef America, Chef Tyson Wong Ophaso elevated curry to new culinary heights, incorporating the piquant spice into banana ice cream and braised sweetbreads. At King & I Restaurant, though, the lauded chef sticks to traditional Thai recipes and culinary techniques. Bamboo shoots and potatoes simmer in an antique steamer, and chefs grind spices with the same mortar and pestle that the original owner used 30 years ago. Additionally, Chef Ophaso enhances his menu of curries and seafood by plucking organic veggies from the restaurant’s own garden, nearby farmers' markets, or the fruit hats of passing conga lines.