Layering flavors is a delicate enterprise that requires patience and practice, both of which the kitchen staff at Spice Market has in spades. Chef-Owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Chef De Cuisine Shean Suter use the streets of Southeast Asia as the inspiration for their menu, which celebrates experimental combinations such as the ginger, scallion, and tarragon that come together to flavor steamed halibut, and the kumquat-lemongrass dressing that tops char-grilled chicken. They also use these original twists to elevate Asian traditions, such as salmon sashimi topped with a chipotle emulsion and edamame flavored with yuzu butter and mace salt. Like its cuisine, Spice Market’s dining room comprises eclectic elements that fuse together, creating something sophisticated within the W Atlanta Midtown. Gilded ropes, slatted woodwork, and oversized paper lanterns hang from the ceiling, and pots of bamboo and tall vases filled with colorful flowers line the walls. Whether seated at private booths or snoring upon padded banquettes in the bar area, diners sip one of seven signature cocktails including a passion fruit whiskey fizz and a lychee-raspberry bellini.
Under the glow of lotus-shaped white chandeliers, plumes of steam ascend from aromatic Thai dishes laden with lemongrass, coconut milk, and tangy tamarind paste. The menu showcases a traditional spread of curries, noodle dishes, and grilled fish and meat entrees. The authenticity and tastiness of the recipes won praise in 2010 from the Cynical Cook, who called the thai beef jerky "addictive" and the chicken larb "everything you could want ? Each bite was juicy, meaty, and a satisfying mixture of peppers, limes, and salt." Thai statues and artwork dot the dining room, which opens to a white-curtained patio available during warm months to feed hungry breezes.
On Iron Chef America, Chef Tyson Wong Ophaso elevated curry to new culinary heights, incorporating the piquant spice into banana ice cream and braised sweetbreads. At King & I Restaurant, though, the lauded chef sticks to traditional Thai recipes and culinary techniques. Bamboo shoots and potatoes simmer in an antique steamer, and chefs grind spices with the same mortar and pestle that the original owner used 30 years ago. Additionally, Chef Ophaso enhances his menu of curries and seafood by plucking organic veggies from the restaurant’s own garden, nearby farmers' markets, or the fruit hats of passing conga lines.
Owned and operated by siblings, Noodle serves up pan-Asian cuisine aside fun cocktails and sleek décor. A veritable cross-continental culinary campaign, the menu blends flavors of Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand, but eschews that oft-ignored middle child of Eurasia, Stupidistand. Commence your journey with the rolls and dumplings sampler, a mini smorgasbord of curry rolls, shrimp-basil rolls, and spring rolls plus veggie or pork dumplings ($12). For the main course, sink incisors into entrees such as tender chicken (or tofu), bathed in a coconut green curry sauce with potatoes, avocado, cashews, and rice ($11), or classic Thai peanut noodles with shrimp ($10). A steaming bowl of Pho Nam soup brims with thin beef and meatballs, rice noodles, onion, and Thai basil with a side of bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, and jalapeños for dressing ($8–$9). Ample portions ensure that you have leftovers to take home to feed the marmot militia that trains in your basement.
Since opening more than 22 years ago, Taste of Thai Halal has celebrated the traditional flavors of Thailand with a halal menu of curries, noodle dishes, and seafood. In addition to classic dishes such as pad thai and fried rice, adventurous palates can sample squid tossed in tamarind-spiced curry, or duck flavored with fresh ginger root and hot peppers. Dessert takes the soothing shape of coconut ice cream or bites of rasmalai, an Indian delicacy made with cheese dumplings and sweet cream.
Siam Square is to Bangkok what Times Square is to New York—a place full of trendy shops, four-star hotels, and gourmet food. The folks at Siam Square Thai Cuisine want to bring the essence of that spot into their restaurant, but they don't rely on the chic decor or panoramic photographs of the square that hang around the dining room to do it. It's the menu's contemporary take on traditional Thai dishes that truly embodies Siam Square's hip, urban vibe. Chefs grill freshwater prawns to top with Pa-nang curry reduction and sprinkle with kaffir lime leaves, or they roast half-ducks, fry the skin to make it crispy, and apply a tamarind sauce galze. All their curries and stir-fries can be made with chicken, tofu, pork, beef, or shrimp, and there are vegetarian options upon request. Noodle dishes include traditional pad thai, spicy drunken noodles, pad-woon-sen (stir-fried clear noodles), and pad-see-eew (wide rice noodles served with broccoli and egg).
To handle the heat of a spicy curry, diners can order red and white wine and sake, or pick from a beer selection that includes SweetWater brews as well as Thai and Chinese imports. Diners can also sip thai iced tea or coffee as they linger in the modern dining room, which features red accents that pop against cream walls.