Spice, spice, baby
I took my friend Eric to dinner at Thai Nakorn when he was up here from Las Vegas for work. Eric is one of those pain-in-the-ass people who like to bag on Reno without at least recognizing that Vegas is disgusting as well, so I was a little nervous taking him to dinner to review a place.
After meeting in the parking lot, the first thing he said to me was, “I knew we weren’t in the nice part of town and for Reno, that’s saying a lot.” I was worried this attitude was going to continue throughout the night, though I’d have to give it to him that the corner of Mill and Kietzke isn’t exactly Reno’s finest. (Thai Nakorn is in the former location of Thai restaurant Siamese Hut.)
However, once inside, even snooty Eric had to admit that Thai Nakorn looked really nice. The décor is simple and clean and the tables and chairs appeared to be new. Wood paneling covers one wall but it went well with the overall look and added warmth. The people who own Thai Nakorn operate sister restaurants in Truckee and South Lake.
A friendly woman greeted us and sat us immediately. The menu is expansive but broken out into well organized sections of things like curry dishes, vegetarian, noodles and soups. They also serve beer and wine, so if you need booze, you don’t have to hit up the liquor store next door and drink it in the parking lot.
Eric and I decided to just order a bunch of stuff and share it. We went with the Spicy Basil ($9), which came with Thai chilies, garlic, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and basil stir fried with a choice of meat. We chose the chicken which was plentiful and lean. The basil and peppers in this dish were amazingly fresh and gave it a great flavor. I was surprised that this dish was sweeter than spicy, but I still really liked it. We also ordered the Hangover Noodles ($9), with beef, rice noodles, Thai chilies, garlic, bell peppers, green beans, baby corns, mushrooms and basil. This dish was amazing. When it arrived, Eric looked nervously at the noodles, as they seemed lumped together, but the flavors were perfect as the noodles had absorbed the flavors of the vegetables and beef. This was the favorite of the evening.
We also ordered the Grilled Duck Curry ($12). On curry dishes, you can choose the spiciness with options of coward, careful, adventurous and native Thai. Eric was willing to go native on this one, but I chickened out and ordered the dish adventurous. I wish I had gone with Eric’s plan because I found the adventurous to not be as spicy as I would have liked. The excellent curry came with large chunks of pineapple and a great coconut flavor that worked well to balance the spice, which is why I think I could have gone spicier. Unfortunately the duck was fatty and gristly and would have fared better if the skin was removed.
Service throughout the meal was a little slow, but it appeared that the woman who greeted us was playing hostess and waitress, and she was always friendly. Thai Nakorn has a good atmosphere and good food with interesting menu items.