Pleasing aromatic combinations of meat and spices fill the air at Siam Square, an authentic Thai cuisine restaurant located in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square neighborhood. With limited street-side parking directly in front of its entrance, Siam Square is distinguishable from other nearby businesses thanks to an easily-visible red external awning. The restaurant’s interior is equally bright and lively, with predominantly yellow walls that merge into large sections full of orange and red tones. A small, wall-mounted chalkboard near the main entrance provides guests with one or two “Employee Picks” selections on any given day, though the usual assortment of classic noodle stir-fry, curry and seafood dishes still abound, utilizing various combinations of lime, coconut, peppers and even pineapple. Thai iced tea is a popular beverage choice there.
The ornate Asian tapestries that line the walls and tables of Thai Kitchen Restaurant reflect the authenticity and precision with which the eatery’s chefs craft signature curries and noodle dishes. The family recipes were tested and perfected over multiple generations, notable as much for their colorful presentation as they are for their piquant spices—though some entrees arrive on hot plates, others rest on beds of noodles and vegetables in the same clay pots used for baking. Though the house specials tend to evoke an air of the exotic, they share a menu with the dishes familiar to the first-time Thai-food eater, including the pad thai and pad kee mao dishes that have made Thai cuisine famous around the world. The soft glow of hanging lamps illuminates steam rising from the fragrant noodles and lends drama to chopstick duels over coveted spring rolls.
As staples of Durham's culinary scene for more than 20 years, the Hui family has showcased its homestyle take on northern Thailand classics at Thai Lanna since 2004. To enliven recipes passed down through the generations, owner Ratana Hui cooks with herbs and thai chili peppers plucked straight from her personal garden. These up the flavor ante of everything from jumbo shrimp coated in a garlicky sweet-and-sour sauce to pork stir-fried with ginger and carrots in a housemade lemongrass sauce. All of Thai Lanna's familiar curries, noodle dishes, and fried-rice options, meanwhile, can be easily prepared as vegetarian entrees.
Mango curry. Roasted duck basil. Crab fried rice. These are just three of the 65 possibilities listed on Thai Thai Restaurant's menu, making for plenty of options for trying authentic Thai cuisine. At lunch, guests have a condensed menu to work with, but there are still plenty of curry, fried rice, and other favorites to eat, which are paired with soup, salad, and a spring roll as part of the lunch special. Dinner then tempts eaters with offerings of pad see ew, thai eggplant with tofu, and panang seafood with scallops, jumbo shrimp, mussels, calamari, and fish in a curry sauce on a bed of cabbage.
If ever you wanted to eat your way across the globe, Nadia's Bistro would be a good place to start. Here, diners can check off Indonesia, Thailand, and parts of the Mediterranean all in one sitting, and all without having to learn language translations for "mmm." Chef Tom prepares dishes from many cultures using both traditional and contemporary techniques. There's the Indonesian specialty gado-gado, for instance, which contains a jumble of fresh veggies, tofu, boiled eggs, and potatoes. Pastas, meanwhile, reign supreme over the Mediterranean portion of the menu, and stir-fries represent Thailand with such specialties as pad pong ka ree–a seafood-based dish loaded with calamari, scallops, and shrimp.
The chefs at My Thai Cafe know that you eat with your eyes first, crafting classic dishes and handed-down recipes with an artist's precision and whimsy. They prepare generous bowls of tom-yum soup brimming with shrimp, lemongrass, kaffir-lime leaves, and galanga root, and stir-fry dishes including the pad ped with choice of meat and chili paste—a spicy concoction originating from the kitchen of the owner's aunt. Chefs garnish dishes with edible handiwork: carrots cut into butterflies, rice formed into heart shapes, and bunches of cilantro woven into fans for cooling fiery tongues.