Christened Best Thai Restaurant by readers of Gambit magazine for three years running, La Thai Uptown dazzles palates with dinner and lunch menus that capture the salty, sweet, and spicy profile of authentic Thai cuisine. Head chefs Merlin and Diana Chauvin, who have placed in regional seafood cook-offs, coax the sun into summer rolls ($8) from its traditional fall hibernating place inside oranges. Their seafood skills are on full display in signature entrees such as Chef Merlin's jumbo lump crab cake with lump crabmeat covered in chili glaze served lounging on a bed of sautéed vegetables ($24).
The chefs at SukhoThai evoke the streets and kitchens of Thailand with balanced dishes that spotlight fresh and exotic ingredients. In addition to bowls of sinuous egg and rice noodles, they craft panang curry filled with strips of pan-fried duck breast, fresh coconut milk, and kaffir lime leaves. Waterfall beef mingles with chiles, roasted rice powder, and mint, and the steamed fish of the day swims in garlicky lime or whiskey ginger sauce. SukhoThai also rotates seasonal specials—including a recent collection inspired by Bangkok street food—through their menu on a regular basis.
Sukho's original Marigny location is housed in a vibrant-yellow building bedecked with red and blue trim. The Uptown location resides in a polished warehouse-style space, where exposed-brick walls surround long, buttery banquettes. Beneath a peaked ceiling, glowing paper lanterns hang in a cluster from metal beams.
Thai Pepper spicys up evenings with authentic Thai cuisine served with a plethora of fresh vegetables and herbs, minimal oil, and extra-lean meat. Feasting begins at 5 p.m. with the clanging of the bell pepper, ushering in dinner-menu options such as the papaya salad ($7.25), a dynamic duo of papaya and carrots flying high with lime juice, roasted peanuts, and fresh chili. Rice gangs stick together, staking out their turf on the entrees, all of which can be made-to-order with meat staples such as chicken, pork, or beef ($9.75 each), shrimp or combo entrees ($11.95 each), fish ($12.75), vegetables, or vegetables and tofu ($8.95 each). Cuisine conquerors can wash down hearty meals with imported beers ($3.75), such as the Sapporo from Japan or the Tsingtao from China, or the house wine ($3.25/glass), which comes in chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and white zinfandel incarnations.
Head Chef Cristina Trinh of Sara's Bistro honors the traditions of New Orleans with her menu of seasonal and local products, but not in the way one might think. While the menu does include staples, such as crab salads and pork chops with praline pecan sauce, the chef gets a kick out of throwing in a few twists—dishes like coconut curry tofu with homemade tofu, braised curry-spiced lamb shanks "Osso Bucco", or crawfish spring rolls with sweet chili oyster sauce. It’s this inventiveness that defines Sara’s Bistro, which seeks to honor not only New Orleans’ Creole heritage but also its history as a port city for international travelers and their travel sporks.