Top 5: Thai Restaurants

Categories: Top Five

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When you mention Thai food to people, the first reaction you usually get is something pertaining to its spiciness. And while Thai food can be very spicy, most places around town are more than willing to work with customers. And really there is so much more to Thai food than heat. Sweet, sour, salty, creamy, rich, light: These are all adjectives that should be used to described good Thai food, which is supposed to be a balanced variety of flavors. Here are my top five picks for places that do Thai food right. Please feel free to leave me suggestions for other places I should try.

Khun Kay
The controversial Khun Kay makes my list of top 5 for two reasons. First, it's extraordinarily fast and inexpensive. Second, its tofu is amazingly fresh and delicious. Naysayers often liken Khun Kay to Thai fast food, and I agree. That's why I love it. I can stop by post-gym looking all gnarly and exhausted and walk out ten minutes later with a spicy plate of curry and a bowl of soup for about $10.

Thai Gourmet
Good food, good service, good ambiance. That's how I describe Thai Gourmet to my friends. I like to start with the earthy, peanutty satay skewers and then move onto to the Thai Curry Noodles with Shrimp. Rich, glossy egg noodles are topped with curry and a creamily sweet coconut milk. Be careful when you specify the heat level, because they don't mess around when they say Thai hot.

Nidda
Thai is one of my favorite cuisines, and as such I am constantly asking people where they like to go. Nidda always makes the list. This is one of the few Thai joints in town to make a perfect papaya salad. The coconut-lime soup is almost transcendental in its airy flavor intensity. Other standouts include the stir-fried eggplant and the Nidda Shrimp. And of course, they have an excellent Pad Thai.

Thai Bistro
Charmingly elegant, Thai Bistro is the kind of place you could take a date to. I often have, and we always leave stuffed and happy. You can tell the food is lovingly prepared here, with attention to detail. For example, they use real Thai chilies instead of substituting the more readily available jalapeno. The curries are simmered for hours to produce intense flavor sensations. Although many of the names have been westernized, the dishes are traditional and fabulous.

Kanomwan
A Houston institution for many years, Kanomwan may not be in the most convenient of locales, but with a large menu of skillfully prepared dishes, this restaurant is always worth the drive. Voted Best Thai Restaurant multiple by the Houston Press, Kanomwan suffered from an uncertain future when the curmudgeonly, but much beloved, owner passed away last year. Thus far the reports have been positive, indicating that the food remains top-notch.



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Location Info

Khun Kay Thai Cafe

1209 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thai Gourmet

6324 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nidda Thai Cuisine

1226 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thai Bistro

11660 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kanomwan Thai

736 1/2 Telephone Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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49 comments
iamsib.10
iamsib.10

I am Thai and I try all off them ...I am so surprise how can they get top 5!!!!!! , I would like to say .... " All of them PAID  for houston press for this ? "  ALL OF THEM ARE SO FAR FOR BEST THAI FOOD  MAN.!!!!

Keiocorp
Keiocorp

I think it would be appropriate to say "Top 5 Americanized Thai", except for Kanomwan. Any Thai place using jalapeno is a clue to stay away.

dan
dan

What's with all the Americanized restaurants on a top 5 Thai list? Major disappointment.

Rob
Rob

Love Thai Gourmet the best. Go on Saturday before 6 pm and try their duck noodle soup (only available on Saturday). It's it to die for. Also try their Toon's special fish (off the menu).

Bkkchef
Bkkchef

So glad to see a few Thais I like on top 5.

Grettaearp
Grettaearp

Has anyone tried Nit Noi? I see them all over and was told that they were one of Houston's original Thai place.

tinyhands
tinyhands

Thai Bistro wasn't just disappointing, it was bad. I'd rather take a chopstick to the neck than eat there again. Put me down for Thai Gourmet, Vieng Thai, and Toni Thai, in that order.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

On your list: I don't understand the hype around Nidda Thai. It's serviceable, "americanized Thai." Other than location, what is good about this place? I had a bad experience with a duck dish that was recommended by the server when I was there, and we ended up paying about $50 for two which is really expensive for Thai, so I doubt I'll be back.I like the basil beef and coconut chicken soup at Thai Gourmet, this place is consistent.My list:Vieng Thai is very authentic (although not mentioned in the article) but the interior could definitely use a facelift. I don't like the dampness when I go there, but the food is top notch.I love the Thai Spice at Bellaire/Mary Bates!! Can't beat the Pad ka prow, or fried fish with spicy tamarind sauce there. Cheap, consistently good every day Thai. Dishes always less than $7. I know the owner and she says the flavors/recipes at this location are the most authentic.Tony Thai for ambience and the best deep fried fish with garlic sauce. Also they have the best tiger cry in the city. My mom loves their pad thai.Asia Market for cheap and authentic all the way. Best pad see ew and pad thai!

Jeeterbug
Jeeterbug

sawadee off bellaire is one of the best too!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Vieng Thai, all the way. And Asia Market a close second. But I love Nidda and Khun Kay too. Khun Kay is utterly Americanized Thai food, but it's still delicious. Oh, the eternal authenticity versus taste debate...

Feldman
Feldman

I love Thai Gourmet and it doesn't get a lot of love these days, thanks for mentioning them!

autumn
autumn

nidda thai is my favorite. it's so good and the people that work there are so nice. glad to see them on the list.

Kyle
Kyle

Also Asia Market may not be a Thai restaurant per se, but they certainly have some of the best Thai food in the city, imo.

Kyle
Kyle

Conspicuously absent is Morningside.

thaifoodlover
thaifoodlover

except Kanomwan. What can I say its too bad you just have a bad Thai taste in your mouth.

Clancyville
Clancyville

Yeah, OK. And they'll be sure to add "Americanized" before Best Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Argentine, Brazilian, German, Spanish and all the rest.

Why. Cause you know better.

(sheesh! no wonder there's a backlash against foodies; they know everything, but especially the obvious)

Ting ting
Ting ting

Thai Bistro doesn't usual jalapenos.

Sustusi
Sustusi

OK big guy. Tell us where you eat Thai. Bet you love grain whiskey soaked raw liver and shrimp paste straight up, with a nice piece of 'slick' sausage.

Help me find those favorites of mine from Bangkok!

Ting Ting
Ting Ting

Nit Noi...gag me. Almopst as bad as Thai Pepper...

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Nit Noi = bland stir fry. It barely passes for Thai, but the restaurant is one of the nicer ones.

Kyle
Kyle

Nit Noi is thoroughly mediocre.

Tyrion_L
Tyrion_L

@tinyhands I live in NYC and recently got obsessed with Isan Thai food. I'm moving to Houston soon, as I grew up there and have family there, but while living there, I never explored enough authentic Thai. I'm excited now to try Vieng Thai, which I've read about, and I jumped for joy when I saw larb and som tum on the menu at Toni Thai. Are the three places you mentioned pretty much the only places in Houston to get Isan Thai?

Duranduranwolf
Duranduranwolf

...how about just a chopstick in the neck, if you don't mind?

Keiocorp
Keiocorp

Yes Vieng Thai is one of the best. Many Thais eat here, also at Thai Asia Market. Lee (over at Vieng Thai) has done a good job fixing up the place. I remember how it was back in 2001, when I first started going there. The Super Market is gone now as are the old menus, chairs, and tables. I think the current place is respectable.

Geri
Geri

I've always had good experiences at Nidda. The service is good and I love their noodles and seafood. Also, I usually split dishes, so the price wasn't a huge concern. I am very excited about trying Vieng Thai though. Thanks for the suggestions!

Duranduranwolf
Duranduranwolf

Nidda's choo chee eggplant is a great dish. And you don't see it on the cookie cutter Thai menus elsewhere.

Bandhari21
Bandhari21

Get brave and try Kanomwan. Unique dishes you don't find elsewhere.Chinatown Thai Spice is decent; others fairly sucky, even Heights which is theirs and not franchisedTony Thai pretty good---she used to work for Nit Noi, and then did her own place thank god. You find her eating at V's or Vieng.Vieng had some slippage last time I went.

Matthew Dresden
Matthew Dresden

I'm with Mai. Nidda is overpriced and overrated; Vieng Thai is the best place for Thai food, emphasis on food; and Tony Thai (often ignored in discussions of Thai food in Houston) is excellent for fish and is aesthetically pleasing, or at least interesting. It's also one of the few suitable places for a festive large-group dinner.

Kyle
Kyle

I have found Thai Spice to be not the best, but the BYOB at the Heights location is a major draw.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Never heard of Sawadee, what do you order there? Will have to try it!

Geri
Geri

I'll have to check that one out!

Lve Thailand
Lve Thailand

Give me a break. Yall just have no clue what is all real good authetic Thai is all about.

KnittingReader
KnittingReader

I'm also a fan of Khun Kay. In fact your article made me crave a curry for lunch. They're fast and convenient. Sometimes Americanized food is delicious, too.

Joanne
Joanne

Vieng Thai & Asia Market are my 2 go to Thai restaurants.

Ritalina88
Ritalina88

right on! Nidda is way better than Khun Kay. Khun Kay is an example of Thais who cook to American tastes, or who don't really know how to cook at all.

Has anyone tried Bangkok Thai out on Westheimer? They just opened, and have Thais in the kitchen versus amigos.

thaifoodlover
thaifoodlover

I tried most of their menus and found it boring to talk about.

Fidelippo
Fidelippo

...for good reason.

How about Vieng Thai? Or V's?

Thaifoodlover
Thaifoodlover

Oh I see maybe because the food is so so cheap and suit your taste? Whatever it is. Yeah I know those owners as well as you do even now the places have gone under new ownerships >> Guess what..Some of food is okay but not great and No, not the best Thai. and FYI: I am Thai and also my wife is Thai and we agreed, so just stop saying its best Thai becuz Thais eat there. bullshit!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@Geri, normally I wouldn't write off a restaurant after one experience, but all around my experience at Nidda was a bad one and here's why: The service was cheerful, but the food was barely serviceable. I had the "fish in the garden," which was good, not great. The duck with basil was another matter. One bite into the duck and my senses were impaled by what I can only describe as a "stinky gaminess". They had somehow managed to trap all the filthiness of the duck and seared it into the meat. Maybe they forgot to clean the duck before cooking it, whatever it was, I almost gagged. Server didn't take it back, didn't do anything about it, just told me she wouldn't recommend it to people anymore. As for pricing, it's not so much that the prices are expensive, but when you take into account that you can get much better Thai in Chinatown, the difference is significant. The bill came out to $49 for the thai toast appetizer (dripping in oil), fish in the garden (the only good dish I had), and an inedible duck with basil dish, plus 2 Thai teas, exclusive of tip. A similar meal would cost about $30 in Chinatown...

Bruce R
Bruce R

Is the eggplant the part that's uncommon? Because chu-chee curry is common. And most Thai places will put anything you want in it.

Jesterminh
Jesterminh

don't bother. it's the brother of doi from nit noi. and the food apparently runs in the family.

Wyatt
Wyatt

"...what is all real good authetic Thai is all about"

It is very hard not to hear this in my head as spoken in a stereotypical Angry Asian accent

Kingsleya
Kingsleya

You bet! Nothing as scrumptious as a plate of noodles or curry that tastes like dessert!

Kyle
Kyle

You think so? Morningside has some of the best green curry I've ever had. Yeah, Vieng Thai is definitely good.

oh man
oh man

maybe you should stick around in chinatown where you belong ;)

Glendawitch
Glendawitch

"The service was cheerful, but the food was barely serviceable."

Uh, you really shouldn't try 'servicing' your food. Not much food is able to be serviced.

Duranduranwolf
Duranduranwolf

yes, the eggplant is lightly battered and quickly deep-fried. perfect with the choo chee sauce and slivers of citrus leaf

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