Thai Orchid offers a bright atmosphere, friendly service, authentic dishes and the best Tom Kha in town. Surprisingly, this lazy, secluded and comfortable restaurant never seems to be very busy.
Located just off of bustling West Burnside, the solitude of Thai Orchid is amplified in contrast to the noisy street outside. The dining room, decorated in bright colors, beautiful bouquets of exotic flowers and one really large orchid mural, is welcoming. Often, I find myself contemplating the enormity of that painted flower. It’s so big and strange looking, kind of like it was painted by someone who hadn’t had much orchid painting experience was asked to spice up the wall or something. I don’t know. It’s funny.
Anyway, the food at the Orchid is very good. I like to start out with the Som Tum salad. With shredded raw papaya, ground peanut, tomato, chili and limejuice, this light dish tingles with a fresh balance of spicy and sour.
Once, on a date at Thai Orchid, I made the terrifying mistake of eating a chili that appeared to be a green bean. Amidst conversation I stabbed the little pepper with my fork and fatefully brought it into my mouth. Nothing happened right away, although I did immediately realize that it was no legume. The hotness seemed tolerable enough, at first. Then, like a rising symphony, my mouth began to explode and I felt my face flush.
Frantically, I began reaching for water, bits of papaya, my beer, anything to stop the burning. My date was startled by the raw expression of fear that emanated from my suffering red face. I was, for a moment, in a complete state of panic. But eventually the fear and pain subsided, and I ordered a Thai Iced Tea. Yum. So be careful of the green beans … they are not actually beans at all.
On days when I feel a bit under the weather, there is nothing better than a little Tom Kha to kick out the germs and nourish your beaten-down body. This tasty coconut milk soup with galangal root, lime juice, mushrooms and your choice of meat (I like it with shrimp) is fantastic. In fact, my girlfriend swears by it.
“It’s the best,” she says, “and I am a Tom Kha connoisseur.” Well I don’t know if it’s the best, (or if she actually qualifies as any kind of Tom Kha connoisseur), but I do know it is really damn good. But be careful, those brown chunks aren’t meant to be eaten! They are just pieces of coconut shell, so watch out.
My favorite dish at Thai Orchid is the Pad Kee Mao. Served with your choice of veggies or meat, (I like it both ways), this dish with its wide size noodles, egg, chili, broccoli and hot basil leaves is the best. I like it better than Pad Thai. There’s just something about the wide noodles and hot basil blending together wonderfully that provide a marvelous dish for either lunch or dinner.
All in all, Thai Orchid is quality. Either dine in or take out and you’ll surely enjoy your experience. I put it my mouth and so can you.