To Thai for
Original Thai Restaurant sounds a bit presumptuous, especially given its gas station environs. This is probably a “lost in translation” moment, with the intent to indicate “authentic” cuisine. Regardless, the folks in this kitchen serve up some superb Southeast Asian flavors.
Though there are enough dine-in seats for 30 to 40 people, it appeared the main business was take-out orders. I didn’t see a single person dining in, but there was a brisk business being done with to-go orders, including mine. I had momentary concern that the food would cool off by the time I got it to hungry family members on the other side of the valley, but it was all still plenty warm on arrival. And while I wasn’t asked to indicate a preference on fiery spice for any dish, Thai chili paste and dry crushed chili were provided for those of us who like it hot.
We started with an appetizer of beef satay ($8.95, four skewers): grilled skewers of marinated beef cut in thin strips, served with chunky peanut sauce, and a sweet and sour salad of julienned cucumber, carrot and onion. I see chicken satay at Thai eateries more frequently, so it was obvious I had to try the beef, which was fairly tender and had good char. The sauce and salad were a nice complement.
Original Thai’s take on stuffed chicken wings ($9.95) was essentially a pair of cylindrical meatloafs of ground chicken, clear noodle, carrot, cilantro and black pepper, deep-fried in panko bread crumbs and served with Thai sweet chili sauce. They were easily shared and enjoyed by the whole table—excellent when dipped in the sauce.
Next was a serving of Tom Yum noodle soup ($6.95, small) with tofu as the protein choice. This Thai hot and sour soup included tomato, mushroom, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger and lime juice. The small was about a quart, easily shared with the table. It had an intense lemongrass note, plenty of perfectly cooked mushrooms and a wood-like slice of ginger that added flavor but was inedible on its own.
All of the entrees came with a choice of steamed white or brown rice. We got both, and they were fine. We started with an order of red curry ($9.95) with Thai curry paste, pork, bamboo shoot, bell pepper, Thai basil and coconut milk. I’d estimate the heat level at three out of five.
Pad Ka Prow ($16.95) is a spicy stir fry of fresh Thai chili and basil, mushroom, onion, bell pepper and house special sauce. We chose seafood for our protein, which included calamari, shrimp, mussels, fish and scallop. Nothing was overcooked. The dish was quite spicy, and the basil was intense and aromatic. I loved it.
Pad Ka Tiem Prik Thai ($14.95) is a simple meat stir fry—we went with duck--topped with a crispy blend of minced garlic and black pepper, served with large slices of cucumber and tomato on the side. The duck was just a tad dry, but with rich flavor, and the spicy/savory seasoning was a doozy. I love Thai duck, and though this wasn’t the best, it wasn’t lacking. There were several first time waterfowl diners at the table, none of whom disliked their first taste.
The menu is pretty sizeable for such a small kitchen, and the service was quick and friendly. Original Thai is definitely a welcome addition to the Reno/Sparks food scene.