Amid woodcarvings of Asian deities, copper and bronze flowers creep across Thai Jasmine Restaurant’s shoji screens. Asian-inspired flourishes such as these lend the eatery an aura of authenticity that extends to the food: chefs draw upon culinary skills honed in Thailand to craft a menu of stir-fries and noodle dishes. They marinate meat in redolent Thai spices before roasting them over charcoals and deep-fry fish in a coconut batter that complements sautéed pineapple. Additionally, thai iced coffee or ginger tea enable refreshment and a skilled gargling of the American and Thai national anthems.
Bright yellow and orange walls, with sparse decorations and the occasional Buddha statuette, enclose guests at Thai Cottage. Here, chefs continue the eatery's tradition—which is more than a decade old—of creating authentic Thai fare in a family-friendly atmosphere. The menu catalogs specialty dishes such as deep-fried spring rolls and Pad Prik King, a mix of long beans, kaffir lime, and rice in coconut milk and red curry. And a full bar allows guests to enjoy a Sam Smith IPA or a Toasted Head chardonnay sourced from an in-state vineyard. These smooth libations can be called upon after patrons try some of Thai Cottage's spiciest fare, which, as The Sacramento Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson wrote in a review of the restaurant, "…was runny nose in July hot, chug-a-lug the water hot, take out a lighter and put the flame to your tongue hot."
Compact and maneuverable, tuk tuks—motorized rickshaws—dart through the narrow streets of Bangkok with ease, helping drivers to flit through traffic jams and around obstacles. Tuk Tuk Restaurant's chefs honor their namesake with nimble knife-work in the kitchen, where zingy spices pervade complicated Thai dishes. Seasonings such as tamarind, lemongrass, ginger, chili, and lime dapple stir-fried and curried meats and vegetables, and twirls of noodles entwine with basil and radishes. Waiters transport steaming plates to the high-ceilinged dining room, where a white-on-white image of a tuk tuk presides over tables.
The executive chef at Sabaidee Thai Grille prepares a deliciously authentic menu of Thai and Laotian dishes that emphasize regional specialties and simple ingredients. Seafood dishes such as seasonal grilled heavenly crab with thai spices ($15.95) or grilled shrimp salad with tomato, cucumber, red onions, and cilantro ($10.95) fulfill cravings for international flavors without inconspicuously licking a customs agent. Bean-curd aficionados may slurp the tofu-laden tom kha soup with coconut milk, ginger, kaffir lime, and cilantro ($5.95). Diners can customize the panang curry ($9.95) or radna ($8.95), a mélange of flat noodles, egg, and broccoli in brown bean sauce, with a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or shrimp (+$2), allowing folks to stick to their vegetarian, pescetarian, or contrarian diets. Sabaidee's extensive dessert menu tempts sweetness fiends with delectable treats such as thai crepes stuffed with seasonal fruit ($5.95) or house-made pineapple ice cream with lavender sea salt ($4.95).
Chefs at Thai Chef’s House use fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques to highlight the five flavors most prevalent in Thai cooking: spicy, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. In each dish, they endeavor to strike a balance between all five flavors—spicy red and green curries are laced with sweet coconut milk and charbroiled pork comes with a dish of sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. The setting is authentically Thai as well—the dining room is filled with trinkets and oxygen shipped in from Thailand.
The chef deep-fries half a boneless duck until it forms a crisp outer shell and then douses the poultry in a honey-barbecue sauce. He then moves to another grill and browns prawns marinated in a tequila cream sauce. Eclectic dishes, such as the honey-roasted duck, fill Siam Patio Thai Cuisine’s menu. Unique ingredients pop-up in all aspects of the menu—from curries with a pumpkin and seafood pairing to a deep-fried crispy chicken sautéed with mango. Chefs also include old Thai favorites on the menu, such as pad thai and fried-rice dishes, for those who prefer the comfort of familiarity, much like hugging an imaginary friend.