Khao Thai, located downtown at 36 North Park Row, is Erie’s first and only Thai restaurant. Since late last year, it has been one of my favorite and most frequented places to eat. Thai food is know for putting emphasis on lightly prepared meals with strong aromatic parts. Owner Tatsinipan “Tat” King is always there to greet customers as they come in the door. When my co-worker Ben Smith and I went in for lunch on Tuesday, she was our server. I have a few dishes I stick with when I order from there: Chicken Pad Thai, Chicken Pad See Ew and Chicken Drunken Noodles. All three noodle dishes are very filling. They are made with thin rice noodles, stir fried or sautéed vegetables, all tossed in different sauces. The Pad Thai is sweeter, while the Drunken Noodles is much spicier, but all are incredibly delicious. Some dishes come spicy, but you can order three different levels of heat: American hot, Mexican hot and Thai hot. I normally order all of mine Thai hot. The heat is pretty intense and does a great job clearing stuffed sinuses. You can also order most dishes with chicken, pork, beef, seafood or vegetarian. I wanted to order something new this time, so I asked Tat for her personal favorites. Ben and I ended up splitting the Thai Sampler as an appetizer, Ben ordered some Thai fried rice, and I went with two of Tat’s suggestions: stir-fried garlic with chicken and cashew nuts with chicken.
The sampler came to the table first. It comes on a large, sectioned plate with chicken satay, small crispy rolls, steamed chicken and shrimp dumplings, fried tofu triangles and fried squid. Each sample is in a different sauce, and are all quite tasty. My favorites are the dumplings and the tofu. The tofu has a crispy outside with a fluffy inside. The texture is a little much for some people, but I really enjoy it. We got through the sampler quickly and our food was out in a hurry. Ben’s fried rice was great. The rice was tossed with some veggies, eggs, pineapple and topped with cucumber and an orange slice. He got it Mexican hot, and the spice of the peppers combined with the sweetness of the fruit made for a great combination.
The cashew nuts with chicken had a sweeter taste as well. I prefer to get chicken with my meals because it tends to absorb the flavors more than anything else. The dish includes scallions, peppers, onions and fresh cashews, all in a savory brown sauce. It is on the menu with no added heat, but getting this Mexican or even Thai makes it that much better. The other dish was the stir-fried garlic with chicken. The chicken is marinated in a homemade garlic and white pepper sauce. If you like garlic, trying this is a must. The white pepper has such a different taste than normal black pepper and really enhanced the flavor of the garlic.
Everything we ordered was fantastic, and I am glad to have tried something new. As per usual, our service was exceptional, and we will continue to eat there. Thank you, Tat and staff, for everything.
This was a great meal to start out my ethnic foods tour. I hope that everything I sample is this good.
Until next week,
Andrew – Beard vs. Food