Next to the cash register at Mai Thai, a small white saucer next to a statuette holds crackers or other offerings made every morning to signify wealth and good luck. The diminutive goddess and happy Buddha statues subtly hint at the eatery’s roots beneath pendant lights and a tile mosaic. Servers glide across the wooden floors, toting dishes including pad thai and panang, which further solidify the connection to Thailand. Chefs draw from adventurous ingredients when crafting sweets, which Kansas City Star reporter Jill Wendholdt Silva expounded on in a recent review, saying, “Another dessert that I'm not likely to soon forget is the taro ice cream made from a tuberous potatolike vegetable with a purplish tinge. The color is both beautiful and odd, but the taste is reminiscent of pistachios and coconut. The ice cream is accompanied by fried bananas.”
The four corners of Thailand converge on Sawasdee Thai Cuisine's menu, which highlights regionally specific cooking found throughout the country. Although every dish treats taste buds to a melange of flavors, diners can control the amount of heat by asking that their entrees be mild and savory or spicier than Marco Polo's shipping cargo. Six kinds of curry?red, green, yellow, panang, massaman, and jungle?fill the dining room with the aromas of coconut milk, basil leaves, and roasted peanuts. These sorts of bold flavors are also evident in dishes such as the crispy duck with sweet, sour, and spicy sauce and the sauteed collection of straw mushrooms, bell peppers, and tofu in a red curry paste.
Sawasdee Thai Cuisine's warm and inviting dining room is similarly dedicated to its cultural roots. Small Thai sculptures and artifacts line the room's ledges and occasional pieces of artwork adorn the taupe-hued walls. Tables with bench seating line one entire wall, although the space also features a handful of smaller tables scattered across its rich wooden floors.
Pho 2's chefs send taste buds on a tour of Southeast Asia charted by a menu of family recipes hailing from Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Diners can start meals by sharing fresh spring rolls, ladling cups of spicy tom yum soup, or conducting blindfolded taste tests with papaya salad prepared either Thai-style or Laos-style. A rainbow of red, green, and yellow curries decorates tables alongside noodle dishes such as pad thai. Vietnamese coffee and thai iced tea sweeten palates, and, on weekends, Pho 2's chefs re-create authentic Southeast Asian desserts.
Roaring flames rise and fall inside the kitchen of Wai Wai Thai Place Express. Some might think that a dragon lives there, but it?s just the dramatic cooking methods of Pa Noi and Pa Nut, the restaurant?s culinary team. The pair also makes noodles tumble through the air at this edible circus, where flavors from Thailand coalesce in classic dishes such as pad thai, panang curry, and galanga chicken soup. Guests can witness the performance from nearby booths and tables that sit within view of the kitchen, where cooks chop bell peppers rather than fashioning them into clown noses. The stove?s heat summons the veggies? crunch for ginger-laced stir-fries, and scallions and garlic unlock the flavors that dwell within the peppers' colorful shells. At a handful of outdoor tables, diners can marinate in fresh air and sunshine as they munch soft spring rolls and crispy pork ribs kissed with garlic and sriracha.
After a fire gutted Bangkok Pavilion Restaurant in 2005, the eatery rose like a phoenix as the owners rebuilt it from the ground up. Bright-blue seating now adds color to the new dining room, but the food hasn’t changed in the kitchen, where chefs infuse spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and savory flavors into their Thai dishes. They drape chicken in a blanket of thai peanut sauce, submerge bits of beef in sweet coconut-milk curry, and sauté jumbo shrimp in a spicy red sauce. During lunch hours, guests can sample tom yum soup, crispy spring rolls, and red-curry chicken–a buffet lineup that earned the eatery a “Best Lunch Buffet” callout from The Pitch in 2007.
Pho Good relies on family recipes as they introduce Shawnee taste buds to traditional, MSG-free Vietnamese fare. Specialties include banh mi—piquant, French-inspired sandwiches that, like the Eiffel Tower, are made with whole loaves of french bread—and steaming bowls of noodle soup known as pho. Customers sprinkle the noodle- and Angus-beef-filled onion broth with handfuls of cilantro and sprouts, while bubble tea and Vietnamese coffee complement appetizers such as crispy pork spring rolls. The dishes, many spicy on their own or crowned with sriracha, can make patrons break a sweat just as effectively as a good workout or a constant fear of the sun exploding.