The bamboo steamers sit conspicuously behind the glass counter, spirals of steam escaping their closed lids as guests peer at the expansive menu and consider their options. There are three types of dumplings and four kinds of bao filled with the likes of barbecue pork, Szechuan chicken, coconut custard, and adzuki bean paste. In addition, the menu offers pad thai noodles and banh mi sandwiches. Guests sip loose-leaf teas to complement the meals, soaking in the sun from the large windows or out on the sidewalk patio.
In the kitchen of Thai Dish, chefs walk between steaming pans of thai barbecue sauce and woks full of sizzling eggplant as they prepare dishes ranging from pineapple stir-fry to a plateful of pale green curry. Nearby, intricate wood paneling and framed artwork surround the bar and dining room, where diners eagerly await colorful plates of meat, seafood, and veggies.
Delicious peanut sauce and the pleasures of the surrounding Pearl District are only part of the appeal of Peemkaew. The Thai eatery offers diverse menus for both lunch and dinner, and most dishes can be made vegetarian for those haunted by dreams of scissors-wielding hamburgers. Classic Thai dinner meals, including familiar noodle and curry dishes ($8.95 for chicken, beef, pork, or tofu; $10.95–$12.95 for shrimp, scallop, or seafood), are prepared with authentic spices and memorable flavors. Customer favorites include the green curry, pineapple fried rice, and Pad Thai topped with ground peanuts. The fresh salad rolls ($4.95 for dinner, $3.50 for lunch) have also earned a place in the hearts of Portland Thai lovers that can only be cleared out with expensive surgery. In addition to the basics, you’ll find unique chef’s creations for dinner, like the popular spicy red pumpkin curry ($10.95 for chicken, beef, pork, or tofu; $12.95 for shrimp, scallop, or seafood). The house specialty barbecue chicken ($9.50) comes marinated in a Peemkaew secret-recipe sauce that will cause your taste buds to target your stomach with an aggressive PR campaign for more Thai food.
Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Mao and Ting, E-San prepares rich cultural cuisine from Thailand’s Issan region. The extensive dinner menu consists of tasty tod, pad, and yum options that are distinctively Thai with Laotian influences. After an appetizer such as the deep-fried thai fish cake with cucumber sauce ($6), extend your tongue toward the yum goong salad, which features boiled shrimp prepared with tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and lemongrass ($10). Then, feast on the roasted duck curry, a serving of quacker cooked with red curry sauce, pineapple chunks, bamboo, and other greens ($13.50). Mao and Ting spend their mornings chasing down the day’s culinary necessities, ensuring that each menu item is prepared with nimble fingers and crisp, fresh ingredients.
For 13 years the popular Thai Peacock Restaurant has offered up a roster of traditional Thai menu items, concocting spicy and mild delicacies out of fresh, exotic, and locally grown ingredients. House specialties include Golden Noodle—stir-fried egg noodles with broccoli, carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, and signature sauce ($10)—and Choo-Chee, a curry-sauced fish filet with lemon leaves ($13) often mispronounced by children doing their first train impression. Mango curry triggers sweet taste receptors with fresh mango, bell peppers, and green peas sautéed in a red-curry sauce ($9–$13.50), and Thai Peacock Restaurant's signature curry dish ($9–$13.50) enthralls the palate with a rich sauce so secret that the ingredients don't get to see each other until after they've been eaten.