Since beginning the blog, we’ve happily learned about how traditional, authentic Chinese cooking is not a great deal like the suburban Golden-This-Happy-That places that shovel out Kung Pao chicken. But what about Thai cuisine? There are many similarities between American-Chinese cuisine and what we see in Thai restaurants around the Atlanta area. Most Thai restaurants have that same “please everybody” feel, with deep menus. Many of the same dishes appear on every one of their menus. Satay chicken is as predictable an option at a Thai restaurant in Atlanta as sweet and sour chicken is at a Golden-This-Happy-That. While we’ve enjoyed several good and several pleasing meals at Thai restaurants over the last few years (here are a few), I’m not sure that we’ve found a genuinely authentic experience, but, instead, we’ve found very tasty compromises made for the American market.
Erawan, in the way-oop-north section of Sandy Springs near the Roswell line, is absolutely the tastiest. A few weeks ago, while the girlchild spent an evening hangin’ with her grandma, I drove up here with the three year-old, meeting Marie and our friend Leslie, who writes The Food and Me (but not often enough). What we found was a quite nice restaurant that really emphasizes the delicacy of flavors, with freshly-prepared sauces and ingredients that just sparkle on your taste buds. And look, you may very well have enjoyed great Thai meals before – we have, too – but this was like going from black and white to color television.
Marie and Leslie each ordered curry dishes. They were somewhat similar: Matsaman curry and yellow curry are broadly enough like each other, but the tantalizing, delicate tastes within the sauces made each stand out in its own quiet way. They each asked for the sauces to be mild, which on one hand allowed our son to dip his vegetables without worry, but also allowed the flavors to stand out in a way that they probably would not if these were very spicy curries.
But if you’d like it spicy, they are more than willing to prepare the food “Thai hot” and make your mouth suffer. I ordered the nam sod and told them to ramp it up, and each mouthful wrapped in lettuce was more painful than the previous one. I don’t know that I’d call this delicate. It was amazing.
Erawan – I keep wanting to spell it Erewhon – has been open for about ten years. The owner and head chef, Vara Thieosaut, had previously worked at a restaurant in Tucker called L’Thai. What he’s doing here with flavors and fresh vegetables and locally-sourced organic chicken is amazingly impressive, and this place should definitely be on everybody’s radar. Any Thai meals we find in the future will definitely be compared against this. We left starry-eyed and wondering when we might return.
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