Taste of Thai

New Cocodine offers lovely décor, quality menu

COCODINING Mark and Ginger Hook get their first taste of Cocodine Thai Cuisine from server Roger Krier.

COCODINING Mark and Ginger Hook get their first taste of Cocodine Thai Cuisine from server Roger Krier.

Photo By Tom Angel

Thai it out: Cocodine Thai Cuisine is located at 2485 Notre Dame Blvd, Suite 250, in the site of the former Dragon Phoenix Restaurant. It’s open for lunch from 11-3, for dinner from 5-9 (Fri. and Sat. until 10). For to-go orders, call: 891-1800.

By some sort of serendipity, I have fallen in with a group that gets together every couple of months to eat Thai food. One member of our group actually lives and works in Alabama but comes out to California every couple of months for about a week’s visit. We use his presence in town as a reason for another “Thai party"—not that anyone really needs a reason (and our Thai parties are nothing like those Thai parties back in the ‘70s).

There are at least five restaurants in town serving Thai food, and we’ve made it to three of them so far. The most recent proved a complete revelation to me, as I hadn’t known it existed. Tucked into the row of shops next to the Skyway Raley’s, Cocodine Thai Cuisine might be one of those “best kept secrets.”

Some of my Butte College colleagues clearly knew about it, as they were just finishing up when we walked in. They looked like happy Cheshire cats as they waved and departed.

By the end of my first meal at Cocodine, I knew I’d made a happy discovery. The food offered excellent taste and aesthetics, and we also enjoyed the calm and lovely interior dàcor, including the many authentic items from Thailand, such as beautifully woven scarves decorating a screen toward the front of the establishment. Nice wood furniture and burgundy linen napkins gave a casual elegance to the place, and the lighting was pleasantly ambient.

Our server greeted us immediately and promptly seated us at a table. “She’s poetry in motion,” one of my friends remarked, commenting on the gorgeous, light-green Thai dress our server was wearing.

While we pondered the profuse menu choices, we chatted a bit. Our group included the marvelous Mabrie Ormes, local artist extraordinaire. Why is she special? For one thing, she doesn’t have a day job, as many artists do. She constantly creates, and most recently she’s been working on a painting for COBA (Chico Open Board Arts), yet another in her “jazz” series. Working in oils and acrylics, Ormes also paints wonderful, richly layered landscapes, portraits, murals and more. Those who haven’t seen her work can Google her—she’s all over the Internet. I happily have two Ormes originals hanging on my walls.

After considering many different delectable-sounding dishes, I finally ordered the Ginger Shrimp. Others in the group ordered dishes such as barbecued ribs, barbecued pork on skewers, a Thai salad, and the Eggplant Shrimp. We did the sharing thing, where we each took a little bit from each plate, which enabled us to savor a variety of excellently prepared foods.

While my Ginger Shrimp was perfectly cooked and presented (although the plate wasn’t quite as artsy as what you would find at, say, Spice Creek Cafà—but the prices are cheaper), I also found the Eggplant Shrimp delightful—which is amazing, really, considering that when I was a child I thought even one spoonful of eggplant would kill me. We all expressed appreciation for the “healthiness” of Thai food, noting you can leave a Thai restaurant feeling good, rather than practically keeling over from too much steak and baked potato.

If you’re ready to think outside the bun, go Thai. We found nothing lacking at Cocodine. We encountered superb, tasty food, artful service and a pleasant atmosphere in which to have a chat about local art. While dining at Cocodine, contemplate how satisfying it could be to help support the local artists who bring color and expressive imagery to practically every corner of Butte County. Buy a painting! Commission a mural!