Taste of Thai offers up authentic cuisine with lunch and dinner menus boasting traditional favorites. Savor the fruit of the Artist Formerly Known as Siam with noontime favorites. At lunch, starters such as chicken or pork satays ($4.95) and shrimp-stuffed fresh rolls ($4.50) help the stomach settle in for a full feast. Entreewise, Taste of Thai's gang ped, a red curry with coconut milk, bamboo shoots, and thai basil, can be sidekicked with land-based chicken, beef, or veggies and tofu ($7.95 each), or seafood sustenance of fish or shrimp ($8.95 each). Pad thai ($7.95+) and fried rice ($7.95+) also make culinary cameos.
Archira Thai and Sushi's kitchen staff boasts several Thailand natives, who dedicate their efforts to reflecting the modern, 21st century culinary offerings of Thailand and Southeast Asia. An extensive menu sports classics such as pad thai, where stir fried rice noodles set the stage for an ensemble cast of chicken, bean sprouts, egg, peppered Nathan Lane, and crushed, roasted peanuts ($12). Archira's crispy duckling layers a crispy, honey-roasted bird atop a vegetal bed of bell pepper, onion, carrot, and fresh basil glazed with a sautéed garlic chili sauce ($18). Cast a net around the caterpillar roll—a tightly wrapped union of eel and cucumber with avocado, shrimp, and unagi sauce ($12). The spider roll catches unsuspecting tongues in its web of soft-shell crab and avocado ($11).
A peek inside Thai Corner Kitchen’s crispy spring rolls reveals an edible tapestry woven from cellophane noodles, cabbage, and mushrooms, all rolled up into thin shells and destined for sweet and sour dipping sauces. The rest of Thai Corner Kitchen’s menu features the same kind of ingenious ingredient mixing, pairing noodles, curry, and rice with Thai herbs and spices and a choice of meat, seafood, or veggies. As diners munch away, natural light streams through dining-room windows and free WiFi sweeps across the room in search of mobile devices to impregnate with its signal.
Captained by a chef with 20 years of experience and employing authentic ingredients such as galangal, lemongrass, and fresh coconut milk, Thai Herb packs its menu full of blandness-defying southeast Asian classics. Diners can start their meals with a serving of steamed basil-lemongrass mussels ($6.95) before moving on to house specialty pra raam chicken, a succulent dish showered with cashews and drenched in peanut sauce ($10.95). A team of heat-hardened firefighters ushers out the slab of crispy spicy duck, which dresses a piquant quackbird with mushrooms and bell peppers ($15.95).
If you're a Triangle-dwelling Thai food fan, it's likely that you know about Sawasdee Thai Restaurant—it won Indy Week's Best of the Triangle award for Best Thai Cuisine every year from 2007–2011. In 2013, it picked up another honor from the paper: Best Restaurant with Gluten-Free Options. While the Thai chefs at Sawasdee ground the menu in their homeland's culinary traditions—which means the salt comes from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the pucker from tamarind—they're always looking for ways to make them feel fresh and relevant to local diners. That means things such as creating a separate gluten-free menu so no one has to begin their meal simply hunting for a dish that suits their diet. And an extensive vegetarian section leaves out the fish sauce (and egg, if desired), replacing animal products with mixed greens, tofu, and other botanical elements. Naturally, the heat can be adjusted, too, on a scale that starts at "spicy" and tops out at "make-you-cry."
Sawasdee's chefs also give the ingredients themselves extra scrutiny. Even in seasons when fresh herbs are hard to find, they scour suppliers' shelves to make sure they always have authentic seasonings such as galangal and lemongrass on hand. In meat dishes, all-white-meat chicken, large shrimp, beef sirloin, and pork tenderloin bed down on Thai jasmine rice. And at both Sawasdee locations, designers have shown a similar attention to detail in the decor. On Glenwood, a huge compass rose in the ceiling softly lights the dining room's woodwork and trailing succulents and helps curry-intoxicated diners find their way out the door. The location on Capital is less sleek and more cozy, with red walls, traditional carved screens, and even a patio surrounded by dense greenery on all sides.