Owner Shawn Danapong spends a lot of time in Thai Pan’s kitchen, where he proudly observes his team of chefs doing what they do best: seasoning curries, stirring pots of soup, and baking heaps of shrimp in a clay pot. The resultant plates of steaming Thai fare make their way to a dining area filled with soft music and small plumes of vapor that swirl above pad thai, fried rice, and stir-fried veggies doused in oyster sauce. As diners dip into the generous portions and help themselves to BYOB libations, a small fleet of televisions flickers to life with sporting events.
With green curries, vibrant orange shrimp, and a rainbow of veggies, Sawadika—the Thai word for “hello”—introduces eyes and mouths to the beauty and flavor of traditional Thai cuisine. Past polished wooden booths and earth-toned walls that alternate between a laddered wood pattern and a sea of pinks and creams, past paintings of sailboats and gardens, past a granite-topped bar with wine glasses dangling above, the chefs combine their spices and herbs like artists, dappling plate canvases with a menu of curries, noodle bowls, and seafood. They sauté salmon and catfish in coconut milk and curry, and they stir-fry meats in housemade sauces such as fragrant lemongrass and tangy sesame, creating balanced meals and edible portraits of their customers dressed in royal costumes. They also celebrate the sweeter side of Thai cuisine with desserts such as mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream.
Hanging lanterns spotlight sushi chefs in warm light as they stand behind an intimate sushi bar, garnishing freshly sliced sushi rolls with swirls of colorful sauces, sprigs of carrots, and plump portions of wasabi. In the kitchen, chefs peer over pots of bubbling noodles and simmering curries, meticulously adding dashes of spices and shoots of basil to procure complex and harmonious traditional Thai flavors. For dessert, the culinary artists pair sweet sticky rice with fresh mango and coconut ice cream.
Flowers of folded cloth napkins sit atop every table in the sunlit dining room, where dishes are joined by cups of jasmine and green teas. The restaurant is a BYOB establishment, enabling guests to bring their own bottles of wine.
Banana Leaf's headmaster, Steve "the Cajun Asian," treats each customer like a houseguest, so be sure to ask for him before perusing the menu or borrowing his toothbrush. Bring taste buds to blossom with an appetizer such as the shrimp blanket ($4.99), comprising jumbo shrimp wrapped in a rice sheet, then deep fried and served with homemade sweet & sour sauce. To satisfy a poultry addiction, nosh the larb chicken ($12.99), a delicious disarray of pummeled poultry, red and green onion, cilantro, mint, rice, and lettuce tossed in a homemade lime dressing and Thai fish sauce. You’ll also find dependable noodle dishes ($11.99–$12.49) and other entrees ($10.99–$12.99) prepared in a health-conscious way.
Using just a handful of ingredients—flat noodles, jasmine rice, meats, and veggies—the chefs at Bangkok Dee Thai Cuisine whip up an array of dishes. They prepare pad thai, thai fried rice, and several types of curry, including a green curry that gets its color from thai basil and green chilies. They also whip up a teriyaki sauce from scratch and pour it on chicken and beef.
Water gurgling down glass walls and a golden dragon etched into the host's stand hint at the exotic origins of Thai Spice Cuisine's menu items. From colorful, heat-packed curries to sesame-miso salmon stacked atop a bed of fresh greens, each dish is a work of art, meant to be appreciated for its beauty before being eaten or autographed by Jeff Koons. However, the menu still makes room for less high-minded treats: the cinnamon-sugar banana spring rolls harks back to the classic banana split with drizzles of caramel sauce and a solitary cherry accompanying its dollop of vanilla ice cream.