Taste of Thailand flavors Iowa with Oriental style

Taste of Thailand flavors Iowa with Oriental style

by Kristen Erickson

It’s true what they say: appearances can be deceiving.

With bright-yellow paint peeling from its brick exterior and aneighborhood that all but shuts down after the downtown commutershead for home, Taste of Thailand looks like the kind of place yourmom would tell you to avoid.

But in this case, judging on outward appearances would leave youmissing out. Once inside, the instrumental music and tranquil decorhelp to erase nearly all thoughts of bright-yellow paint chips froma diner’s mind.

On my recent visit, my dining companion and I were swiftlyseated at a table in a second room. It was quickly apparent thatthe restaurant owners had made great efforts to overcome thebuilding’s industrial roots. Although the stained, commercialcarpet and conspicuously large display windows reminded me I wasindeed downtown and not in a swank west-side joint, the quiet fan,wooden ceilings and deep red walls set a pleasant dining scene.

Our table also held to the same conflict of polished versusprimitive. The woven placemats, tasteful menu and decorative disheswere stylish, but contrasted sharply with the diner-style blacktable and chair sets. Still, with original artwork, a beadedcurtain and straw-shade lighting, the effort made to create apleasing atmosphere eventually won me over.

Even if I had been a little hesitant about the decor, the foodleft me with no reservations.

The menu offers diners a large variety of options, divided intocategories like soups, chicken, beef, duck, seafood and specialdishes. It also had a large listing of vegetarian options.

Many dishes sounded similar to familiar Chinese entrees likebeef broccoli and stir-fried vegetables over rice. The menu alsolisted unusual offerings like iced coconut juice and soy milk. Forthose who could read it, many options include the dish’s Thainame.

On the recommendation of a friend, my fellow diner and I split aThai spring roll teaser, $4. The menu listed the appetizer (one ofmany available) as two rolls, but when it arrived we saw that ithad been sliced into eight pieces, making it an option for evenlarger dining parties. Similar to an egg roll, the spring rolls hada tender shell surrounding sprouts, long rice and cooked egg. Weeagerly ate ours with a sweet and tangy sauce that complimented thenatural flavors.

My main entree, Gai Himmaparn, was well worth its $10 price. Aslisted on the menu, Gai Himmaparn is comprised of “saut����edsliced chicken, roasted cashew nut, pineapple, mushroom [and] greenpepper.” It tasted delicious and it came served in ahalf-pineapple. Both my entree and my dining companion’s came inspecial dishes, and we were given a bowl of rice to share. Both ofus eagerly ate our dishes, which seemed just the right amount.

At approximately $8-$15 an entree, the dishes were a bit pricierthan I normally spend, but for delicious Thai dining, the splurgewas well worth it.

A similar Thai-dining experience can be had daily from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. or 5 – 9 p.m. at 215 E. Walnut St.

Just don’t let the exterior turn you away.