PaPaYa Thai Restaurant’s chicken mango curry won Best Thai Curry 2009 by Phoenix magazine. It brims with the bold, sweet, and spicy flavors of coconut milk, mango, and red-curry paste, further enhanced by sweet basil, lean chicken, and bell peppers, each shaped like a life-size Stanley Cup. It’s testament to the carefully crafted dishes typical of PaPaYa, which serves traditional dishes that alternate between sweet, sour, and salty flavors and feature no MSG. The barbecue grill adds crispiness to chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and salmon, each plated beside thai sticky rice and sides of sweet chili dip or spicy lime sauce. Most dishes can be made vegetarian on request, and PaPaYa’s attentive waiters encourage patrons to pick their preference of spiciness, ranging from mild and medium to thai hot.
To make Thai Basil’s signature dish, chefs sauté the restaurant’s namesake herb with spicy garlic, bamboo shoots, and a variety of vegetables. Thai basil is also found in a bounty of other plates—grilled eggplant brightens beneath its characteristic tang, spicy fried rice takes on a Thai flavor with the herb, and three curry dishes incorporate it in their stews of coconut milk and spices. Tofu, beef, chicken, and a selection of seafood play central roles in the restaurant's selection of rice, noodle, stir-fry, and grill entrees, each conveniently priced by protein rather than individual dish or the number of letters in its name. Dishes find complement in a wide selection of iced and hot teas and traditional desserts, such as sticky purple rice topped with Thai custard.
At Pink Pepper Thai Cuisine, spice whisperers summon sauces such as thai curry and lemon chili to grace plentiful portions of chicken, beef, and veggies. Twelve appetizers such as baked mussels glazed with spicy cream sauce ($8.95) and marinated Chicken on Sticks ($5.95) set the course for meals to come, like explorers on their way to a legendary city made of foie gras. Wreathed in shredded cabbage, the pattaya chicken ($9.95) swims in an ocean of sweet-and-sour garlic sauce spiked with curry powder, and Arizona fried rice ($10.95) steeps its wok-fried grains and veggies in a thai curry paste before chefs toss in beef, chicken, or pork. Patrons can also sip traditional beverages such as thai iced tea and coffee ($2.95) or head to Pink Pepper’s full bar to show off their good posture by balancing glasses of beer and wine on their perfectly level heads.
Despite being one of several Asian-inspired restaurants in the East Valley, Thai Spices doesn’t just stand out—it’s “one of the shining stars,” according to Geri Koeppel of Phoenix magazine. It opened in 2009, bringing in a chef who helmed a handful of Thai eateries in San Francisco. At Thai Spices, the menu revolves around traditional, authentic Thai dishes, including chu chee tempura fish that Koeppel called “heavenly, made with delicate, flaky fried basa that didn’t get clobbered under a smooth but sinus-clearing coconut red curry.” The chef also ladles bowls of thai boat noodle soup, named for the time in Thailand when boats were the primary mode of transportation because all the roads had been turned into slip 'n' slides. Its noodles, brown broth, and beef or pork are often considered comfort fare by many Thai people. For a lighter sampling of its namesake cuisine, Thai Spices offers a daily happy hour, during which appetizers—veggie rolls, fried calamari, tofu satay—and imported beers, sake bombs, and cocktails are on special.
Thai Basil Chandler's hanging lamps warmly illuminate Thai dishes from a classic dinner menu, such as a five-appetizer combination platter including satay chicken, fried tofu, and butterfly shrimp. Entrees slake appetites with the traditional flavors of pad thai and spicy pan-fried rice noodles. Diners can also explore a half-dozen curries, including the elusive Tim Curry and the more popular gang sapparod, awash in coconut milk, red curry, and pineapple chunks. The grilled seafood platter combines an array of oceanic eats including prawns, calamari, and scallops, each marinated in thai herbs and sidekicked with a homemade sauce. Throughout the meal, dining duos and quartets can toast to the dog's ability to microwave its own dinner with glasses of cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir.
For 18 years, David Fliger lived the life of an adman, traveling the world and eating fine foods. But inside the Thailand-born foodie lurked a restaurateur, a seed perhaps planted by his mother, Nicha, who also left a career in advertising to start a restaurant. Today, Nicha and David work together in the kitchen of Latitude Eight Thai Grill, named after a region in southern Thailand known for fresh seafood. This regional specialty is reflected in the menu’s ocean-centric dishes, such as crab fried rice, grilled halibut, and garlic prawns. Servers stride from table to table, recommending dishes and wine pairings inside what Phoenix Magazine dubs a “modern and minimalist” dining room. The dark wood floor and tables serve as a stark contrast to the white banquettes and walls. Spotlights illuminate an oversized piece of art that’s textured to resemble rolling waves or a wall made out of pasta.:m]]