Thai that binds
Thai Corner Café100 W. Second St.
Reno, NV 89503
I hope my return to the Reno food review circuit does not disappoint readers of Ari LeVaux’s syndicated column, but the arts editor of this august publication was kind enough to give me a few weeks off for maternity leave. (I just had twins. Whee.)
The newly opened Thai Corner Café proved to be a great establishment to get back into the rhythm of this avocation. First, great location. Thai Corner’s gorgeous brick building and nifty setting is on Second just off of West Street Market, which includes a number of other excellent places previously reviewed in RN&R. It’s an aesthetic treat close enough for convenience to downtown but safely removed from the Virginia Street freak show. Street parking was easy for us on a slow weeknight, but our greeter/server indicated that the temptingly empty parking lot on the opposite side of Sierra is a tow trap. You are hereby likewise warned.
We started with spring rolls and peanut sauce ($3.95). I’ll stipulate there’s no hard and fast rule about what a vegetarian spring roll should include, but I would have liked a little more than just the lettuce and bits of shredded carrot inside the wraps. The peanut sauce was thicker and sweeter than what I prefer, but it was satisfactory.
An extensive and creative dinner menu beckoned us. There are over 50 options, including a half dozen each of soup ($10-$12 for the bowl) and seafood ($16) offerings, the expected array of curries ($10 for the single serving), and general entrees like ginger phad khing and garlic and pepper gra tiem pik tai ($11-$15, depending on what meat you choose). But since this was a reconnaissance mission, we chose basics for our main dishes.
My husband tried the massumun curry with tofu ($9.95), and I thought less of it than he. Even though it was starred for spicy on the menu, the spice mélange was blander than other massumuns I’ve sampled, and with nothing but the tofu and potato chunks, it didn’t register as more than a pleasant and filling comfort food. Additions from the spice rack helped.
However, Thai Corner scored a slam dunk with the pad Thai ($11.95 with the shrimp). It’s not from lack of imagination that I always try this when visiting a Thai restaurant for the first time; I think it’s the best single proxy of overall quality because it’s such a signature Thai dish. And this was, simply put, the best I remember ever having in Northern Nevada: the ideal balance of sweet and spice, perfectly prepped noodles properly fried but not saturated in oil, shrimp cooked but not rubberized, fresh sprouts and peanut crumbles expertly proportioned.
Our server noticed my nods and hums and pounced. This style of pad Thai, he proclaimed, was voted the best in Northern Nevada by local Thai residents when it was being served at the owners’ old location, Isan, in Sparks, which is now under new ownership. Furthermore, Thai Corner’s chef trained under the equivalent of a Jedi Master from the mother country, bringing back an elite skill set to bless our humble city.
The time I spent making bottles for my babies this past week might have been used in validating these claims, but my own taste buds were the best verification. Especially in light of its more proximate location than some of the meritorious but peripheral Thai options in the area, this is where I’ll get my pad Thai from now on. On the strength of that alone, Thai Corner Café is a great new find.