The dining room at San Sushi Too & Thai One On defies all geographical logic. Turn one way, you're in Thailand; turn another, and you face Japan. On the Japanese side, "the service is rapid and polite and the sushi is fresh," according to the Baltimore Sun. Fourteen seats line the sushi bar, where the chefs prepare 18 creative house sushi specials. For the selection, just look to the chalkboard menus?or ask the chef to make an off-menu favorite, since they happily take requests.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, chefs pan-fry Japanese noodles and channel the flavors of Thailand into drunken noodles or panang goong: shrimp saut?ed with curry paste, coconut milk, and fresh basil. Baltimore City Paper praised the thom kha kai as "tangy and rich at the same time, a study in contrasts" in a 2002 roundup of the city's best soups. On the weekends, the restaurant also hosts live music and dancing once the dining room closes and the chefs fly back to their respective countries to sleep.
Spice & Dice Thai Restaurant livens up meals with bold flavors and equally bold surroundings. Beginning with traditional family recipes and spices imported from Thailand, the chefs prepare a menu of homestyle Thai cooking with a near-perfect Zagat score. These dishes include familiar favorites, such as pan-seared duck with a tamarind sauce and homemade curries, along with many appetizers and entrees that can be prepared vegan or gluten-free.
The casual, homespun spirit of Spice & Dice's menu carries through to its whimsical decor. "Spice and Dice's decor is so playful you can't help but be in a good mood," wrote The Baltimore Sun. Moods become even lighter on Thursday evenings when the restaurant hosts live jazz performances.
When Thailand native Penelope Chungsakoon and her husband, Bangkok native Tom Chungsakoon, opened Thai Yum Restaurant in 2010, the Baltimore Sun declared it the city's "best Thai restaurant." It's a testament to the ardent work ethic of Penelope and Tom, who flavor each beautifully plated dish with spices hand-ground in their open kitchen.
Besides staples such as massamun curry, the duo crafts Thai specialties such as duck breasts coated in curry-roasted peanut sauce and frog legs sautéed in garlic and chili paste. Feasts unfold inside a dining room of shiny hardwood flooring and white brick walls decorated with traditional artwork depicting animals such as dragons and elephants.
The chefs at Lemongrass fill two different Annapolis eateries with visions of modern Thai cuisine. To do so, they keep an array of spices at their fingertips—dried red peppers, curry powder, kaffir-lime and basil leaves, ginger, and blades of that eponymous lemongrass. Pinches and spoonfuls of such seasonings lend nuanced flavors to a long list of dishes, including pad thai, sautéed mussels, panang curry, and pepper beef. Cocktails and desserts such as sticky rice with mango top off each meal with a tasteful style that recalls Abe Lincoln's signature cake hat.
Red Parrot Asian Bistro puts a fresh take on Thai, sushi, and other pan-Asian specialties. The chefs pack the huge menu with specialty sushi such as the royal mountain roll, complete with steamed lobster, asparagus, and seared white tuna. Freshly cooked dishes also abound, including Thai noodles and Korean short rib, which guests can pair with cocktails or bubble tea.
The ingredients stocked in the kitchen at Noodle Charm have a unique history. While half of the ingredients?such as produce and meats?are sourced from local farmers, the spices, chilis, and herbs have traveled half way across the globe. The chefs go to all this trouble because they know that the best ingredients are a key component of the best dishes. The freshly cut green veggies offset the rich flavors of the creamy peanut sauce slathered onto rice noodles, while the five Thai spices and herbs create a complex marinade for the pork shoulder that stews to a tender finish after 48 hours.
But the flavors of these fresh ingredients aren't just up to the chef. Customers can design their own dish by choosing the style of noodles, type of meat, and variety of soup stock. They can then make each dish their own without figuring out how to write their name in noodle cursive by adding in splashes of fish sauce, vinegar, bits of powdered chilis, and scoops of ground peanuts that are all conveniently stationed at each table.