by Erin and Xani
Last weekend, we decided to try "Thai Restaurant" (yes, that's the full name; no website that we could find, but see the City Paper review here) for lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We had heard that Thai Restaurant was one of the best Thai places in the city, and we soon found that while the food was amazing (stay tuned for an overly detailed discussion below), the journey to TR was...well, interesting.
Xani used her trusty Google maps abilities on her phone (it's magic, I swear) and we diligently followed its course. We traveled through some parts of Baltimore that, let's just say, we don't see often. Let's also say, had we been in the market for illicit drugs, guns, or possibly a black-market kidney, we probably could have obtained these items on any one of many corners that we passed along a long stretch of Greenmont Ave. Once we reached the restaurant, there was luckily a spot right out front and we darted into the restaurant. The restaurant was beautifully decorated, but empty. Our first thought was "Crap, it's empty. Why?? Maybe this place sucks?" But we were quickly reassured that TR did NOT suck, not only because the room filled up about five minutes after we sat down, but more importantly, because the food was AWESOME.
We ordered tea and perused the lengthy menu. We decided to order two appetizers: we started with some tom kha kai, a traditional Thai soup that had lots of coconut milk, chicken, and pumpkin (the pumpkin was a special ingredient added that day). The soup was a bit spicy but mostly just incredibly rich and delicious because of the coconut milk. The pumpkin added sweetness and heartiness to the soup.
Tom Kha Kai
The other appetizer we got was probably the favorite of the meal: green papaya salad. This dish was so incredibly delicious (and beautiful) and each ingredient stood out but they all worked together: the green papaya was shredded (looked almost like noodles), and there were green beans, peanuts, cilantro, something spicy (jalapeno maybe?), and a delicious sweet and sour vinaigrette-like dressing dancing throughout. An added bonus were the few delicious shrimps on top, but honestly, they were not necessary since the salad itself was so good.
We would recommend the soup and this salad as a great meal for one, but of course, there were two of us, and we were still hungry!
We ordered two main dishes: Thai Fried Rice with pork, and Panang Curry with tofu. The fried rice was really good and more interesting than traditional Chinese fried rice (lots of Thai basil gave it a subtle anise flavor). The curry was very good as well. We could have chosen red, green, yellow, or panang curry and we went with the panang. We ordered it "spicy" (actually, we were given the opportunity to adjust the spiciness of all of our dishes, which was a nice touch), and that it was! The tofu was prepared nicely and in large pieces, and the curry was intensely flavored and rich from a bit of coconut milk. (Flash-forward to the next day, when Xani tried to eat the leftover curry, which had intensified in spiciness about four times!)
Thai Fried Rice
Panang Curry with Tofu
We were offered dessert (including deep-fried cheesecake!) but alas, we were too full. We paid the bill and once again, darted to our car, keeping the doors locked, like BCD Mom always says. We found a more, um, familiar route home, which we'll be taking the next time we are looking for great Thai food. It was totally worth the risk.
E & X