The ingredients used in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine are vastly different, as are the methods of preparation. At Zhuang's Garden, they come together in surprising ways. Eight crackling hibachi-grill tables and a sushi bar represent Japan, and Chinese décor and the aromas of lo mein hint at the traditions of that nation. Glasses of wine clink together above plates of Thai food at the BYOB eatery, where the dishes include curry that is the brilliant yellow of turmeric or a banana salesman’s business card.
Voted the Best Ethnic Restaurant by Berks County Living in 2009, Thai Cuisine packs Southeast Asian flavor into each lunch and dinner dish. This laid-back eatery specializes in quality, vegetable-filled entrees such as the shrimp curry in red coconut cream sauce ($16.95) as well as lighter salads ($7.95–$8.95), and traditional, flat and tasty pad thai noodles ($15.95 with chicken). Each meat-centric dish can be made vegetarian-friendly, and diners can specify the spiciness of their order, selecting from mild, medium, hot, or hotter than the surface of the moon. The eatery also maintains a friendly BYOB policy, making its dining quarters a prime spot for group get-togethers.
Thai Spice's plenteous noodle and curry dishes infuse rich flavors from traditional Thai recipes. Dress up perpetually bald tongues with the spicy basil noodle, a wide-noodle dish laced with string beans, mushrooms, and chili peppers ($10.95–$13.95). Alternatively, bored forks can search for the seafood-combo treasure at the bottom of the Emerald Sea platter ($17.95), or sample the bamboo shoots swimming in coconut, carrots, sweet peppers, and broccoli in the kang ped curry ($12.95–$14.95).
The Nine Thai kitchen abounds with fresh ingredients—ripe juicy mangos cuddling up next to fresh garlic and bright red chili peppers. Skilled chefs fold this eclectic produce, as well as seafood and strips of pork, chicken, and beef, into curries, rice dishes, and Thai specialties. Their pad thai, for example, showers thin noodles with peanuts, sprouts, scallions, and eggs to create an authentic, homestyle rendition of the classic dish that doesn’t rely on a portal connected to a grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand. As the chefs bustle about the kitchen, diners chat at one of the intimate dining room’s 15 tabletops, sipping thai iced teas and fresh mango juice.
Thai Passion Restaurant’s chefs open the door to a huge world of authentic Southeast Asian fare. Patrons can send forks exploring through a plate of thai basil ($12.95–$16.95), where chili peppers, mushrooms, green beans, onions, and a choice of meat add zest to tender grains of rice. Whipped up with the customer's financial advisor's choice of tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp, thai curry dishes paint appetites in one of four sweet and savory sauces—red, green, massaman, or panang ($11.95–$22.95). Diners can slur words while slurping up a nest of drunken noodles ($11.95), or annunciate clearly while speaking to the shrimp eggplants ($18.95), whose ears are filled with chili paste. The staff also slings a range of vegetarian-friendly fare, including sautéed faux-duck and sweet-and-sour tofu (both $12.95).
On a Thai menu, you wouldn't expect the first two words under entrees to be "New Orleans." But Summit Thai Cuisine's cooks bridge the gap between Eastern and Western delicacies with a medley of mushrooms, baby corn, and a choice of protein doused in bayou-inspired oyster sauce.
For the most part, however, the culinary team sticks to traditional Thai flavors, from beef, pork, or shrimp cooked with ginger and Thai herbs to puff pastries stuffed with chicken and cumin. An entire section of Summit's menu is even dedicated to Thai-style duck, such as roasted mallard topped with housemade spicy chili sauce. A mock duck option is available for vegetarians, as are vegetables in red curry—a tasty alternative to eating from a garden watered with hot sauce.