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Who's Got the Flava?

Flavors of Thai kicks it up a notch

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On the busy corner of Hendricks Avenue and Prudential Drive, there’s a spot serving Thai salads, noodles, soups and more. From the traditional to more interesting plates, Flavors of Thai has items not often found in Northeast Florida.

For diners who avoid spicy items, a dish in a Thai restaurant can seem like a ticking time bomb. But if it is spice you crave, Thai allows you to inch up the heat scale or even go full ghost. When you order your dish, the server will ask what level number you want; the spice index is straightforward, with No. 1 the mildest.

My philosophy on spice is simple. I love a nice level of heat, but not at the expense of taste. I usually start in the middle to lower range to see what I’m getting into. After all, you can always add more fire, but you can’t take it away!

There are plenty of hot and cold dishes to choose from on the menu. I went with traditional choices in three of the main categories: noodles, curry and stir-fry. You can get any of these  with chicken, shrimp, tofu, veggies, beef or seafood.

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for super-thin mung-bean noodles, so I ordered the savory Pad Woon Sen with chicken ($14.95), at a nice, calm spice level 1. The glistening clear noodles are stir-fried with eggs, broccoli, carrots and onions. The dressing was a bit oily–not the most appealing–but the flavor was gentle and each bite was satisfying.

We kicked it up a notch in the stir-fry section, moving up to spice level 2. The Prik Pow ($14.95) had a hot and sweet chili paste-based sauce. This was supposed to be a spicy dish, so I’m glad I accented my choice of tofu and mixed veggies (mushrooms, onions and bell peppers, if you’re wondering) with that extra heat. There isn’t a big difference from one level to the next. Perhaps the beautiful flavor of basil simply mellowed the additional heat. Regardless, it was a tasty sauce with perfectly cooked tofu. The whole basil leaves were a nice hit, too.

There are curries a-plenty here, and the house curry ($14.95) delightfully combines them all. A mix of panang, yellow and red curry, it’s seriously flavor-packed. And it was hot, even at level 1! I can’t complain, though, because each chunky veg bite was covered in a flavorful sauce. It was tough to keep from going back despite my being full. Soak up this sauce with rice and thinly sliced chicken.

Those dishes are on both the lunch and dinner menus. All the food was delicious, but heads up: if you go for dinner, you’ll pay about 50 percent more for the same items. Lunch dishes run about $10. There are  dishes exclusive to dinner, like Thai lamb curry ($22.95) and curry duck breast ($22.95).

End your meal with a fragrant, mango-flavored sticky rice dessert ($6.95). This dish is available only in mango season, though, since the fruit has to be plump and juicy. Atop purple rice and doused in coconut milk, it doesn’t overwhelm the senses with sugar. It’s a fitting end to a flavor-filled Thai meal.

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If you have a recommendation or know of a new place, shoot me an email at food@folioweekly.com.

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