Hanging lanterns spotlight sushi chefs in warm light as they stand behind an intimate sushi bar, garnishing freshly sliced sushi rolls with swirls of colorful sauces, sprigs of carrots, and plump portions of wasabi. In the kitchen, chefs peer over pots of bubbling noodles and simmering curries, meticulously adding dashes of spices and shoots of basil to procure complex and harmonious traditional Thai flavors. For dessert, the culinary artists pair sweet sticky rice with fresh mango and coconut ice cream.
Flowers of folded cloth napkins sit atop every table in the sunlit dining room, where dishes are joined by cups of jasmine and green teas. The restaurant is a BYOB establishment, enabling guests to bring their own bottles of wine.
With green curries, vibrant orange shrimp, and a rainbow of veggies, Sawadika—the Thai word for “hello”—introduces eyes and mouths to the beauty and flavor of traditional Thai cuisine. Past polished wooden booths and earth-toned walls that alternate between a laddered wood pattern and a sea of pinks and creams, past paintings of sailboats and gardens, past a granite-topped bar with wine glasses dangling above, the chefs combine their spices and herbs like artists, dappling plate canvases with a menu of curries, noodle bowls, and seafood. They sauté salmon and catfish in coconut milk and curry, and they stir-fry meats in housemade sauces such as fragrant lemongrass and tangy sesame, creating balanced meals and edible portraits of their customers dressed in royal costumes. They also celebrate the sweeter side of Thai cuisine with desserts such as mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream.
Using just a handful of ingredients—flat noodles, jasmine rice, meats, and veggies—the chefs at Bangkok Dee Thai Cuisine whip up an array of dishes. They prepare pad thai, thai fried rice, and several types of curry, including a green curry that gets its color from thai basil and green chilies. They also whip up a teriyaki sauce from scratch and pour it on chicken and beef.
Banana Leaf's headmaster, Steve "the Cajun Asian," treats each customer like a houseguest, so be sure to ask for him before perusing the menu or borrowing his toothbrush. Bring taste buds to blossom with an appetizer such as the shrimp blanket ($4.99), comprising jumbo shrimp wrapped in a rice sheet, then deep fried and served with homemade sweet & sour sauce. To satisfy a poultry addiction, nosh the larb chicken ($12.99), a delicious disarray of pummeled poultry, red and green onion, cilantro, mint, rice, and lettuce tossed in a homemade lime dressing and Thai fish sauce. You’ll also find dependable noodle dishes ($11.99–$12.49) and other entrees ($10.99–$12.99) prepared in a health-conscious way.
Not every restaurant is inaugurated by the mayor. But in June 1999, Scott Wheeler used his mayoral gravitas to help celebrate the opening of Thai Orchid Restaurant. The eatery's auspicious beginnings accurately reflect its involvement in the community. Today, Thai Orchid Restaurant not only serves the neighborhood with a menu of Thai-style basil duck, sautéed beef in oyster sauce, and chicken with cashew nuts, it is also a member of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce.