Restaurant Review: Thai Spoon And Thai China Buffet Have Our Attention | Food Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Restaurant Review: Thai Spoon And Thai China Buffet Have Our Attention 

Want to get excited about Thai food again? Try the fried rice seafood—really, the whole menu—at Durham's new Thai Spoon.

Photo by Jeremy M. Lange

Want to get excited about Thai food again? Try the fried rice seafood—really, the whole menu—at Durham's new Thai Spoon.

In a few decades of experience, the suggestion of local Thai food hasn't often elicited unfiltered enthusiasm. When someone among a group of friends has suggested it for dinner, the responses have tended to be affirmative but not terribly excited.

It's not that Thai food is boring or bad—to the contrary, even. And we have many good options in Durham (Bangkok 54, Twisted Noodle, and Thai Cafe) and Raleigh (Thaiphoon, in spite of the bad pun, is solid). Anecdotally, though, it seems that people choose their regular spot based on geographic convenience, not gastronomic preference. They all run together.

Or so I thought. In recent weeks, I've discovered two Thai restaurants in Durham—one only two months old, another so old I feel like I need to turn in my Northern Durham High School yearbook in shame—that distinguish themselves in several ways. They both serve unusually memorable versions of the standards, your curries and your pad Thais, and traditional dishes you rarely see in these Southern parts. And they offer their own creations, too, showcasing surprisingly creative kitchens.

Thai Spoon opened on Valentine's Day in Cross Creek Shopping Center, high in the reaches of North Durham. Head chef Phattharasaphon Lynch, a former employee at the standby Thai Cafe, succeeds with a menu of intriguing choices for diners who want to move beyond basic curries and noodles.

That said, Thai Spoon also handles the classics beautifully. The steamed chicken dumplings (also available fried) are worth the drive alone. The wrap is light and springy, while the basil-flavored chicken inside leaves a satisfying heat that lingers after you're finished. Tiny bits of carrots add a pleasant, unexpected crunch.

Among the entrées, the crispy-tender Basil Duck and the beautiful spicy larb salmon stand out. Resting on a bed of Romaine and radishes, the grilled salmon filet lurks beneath a thatch of thinly sliced red onions, made especially bright by a lime-based marinade. Those onions nestle among a generous toss of chopped spring onions. Somehow, all those onions don't overpower the dish. Rather, they play on the same team as the chili spices to create that satisfying burn.

Here's a tip I learned during several visits: If you can take it, order everything medium hot. This is the rare restaurant that gives you "hot" when you ask for it, and the "medium" designation helps maintain the harmony of flavors.

In the end, that may be what puts Thai Spoon above its peers: Whether you're trying a familiar massaman, panang, green, or yellow curry, pad Thai, or one of the restaurant's own creations, such as the delicious spicy fried rice tom yum seafood, the bright, familiar flavors blend in a way that makes you feel like you're rediscovering the pleasure of Thai cuisine. It's so good, you may start to get adventurous about following the menu's Thai detours—go with that instinct.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

A great little family Italian restaurant. Good menu. Quiet setting. Good service. …

by Anthony Dean Morgan on Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant (Durham County)

The Refectory is no longer on the Duke Campus. Their new, permanent location is on Chapel Hill Blvd, and yes …

by Beth Owl's Daughter on The Refectory Cafe (Durham County)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Dear White People,

Articles like this one is a perfect example of the cultural appropriation, institutional racism, and White …

by Jesus Vasquez on Rose's Swaps the Butcher Counter for Full-Service Lunch and Dinner (Food Feature)

@Jooolie That's a fair comment and an initial concern of mine. I attended their soft opening though, and they operated …

by Karla Jimenez on Cocoa Cinnamon’s Third Shop Will Be Mindful of the Longstanding Latino Community in a Changing Lakewood (Food Feature)

That's all lovely, and I will likely visit, but... I am concerned about whether the established Latino and Black community …

by Jooolie on Cocoa Cinnamon’s Third Shop Will Be Mindful of the Longstanding Latino Community in a Changing Lakewood (Food Feature)

It's impossible to decide what's worse with this guy, the opinions or the writing. Well, congrats at least on getting …

by Van Buren Boy on How One Local Server Learned to Stop Worrying About Bird Poop and Embrace Patio Dining (Food Feature)

You forgot to mention Treforni in Durham as one of the more noteworthy independent pizzerias in the area. …

by Shocka Kahn on Pizzeria Faulisi Masters Family Style With Adept Culinary Skill (Food Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation