When we pulled into the Krung Thai parking lot on a frigid fall evening, I was taken over by a distinctly David Lynch-ian feeling. A strand of multi-colored Christmas lights wound around the perimeter of the lone building, and through the open blinds, witness-interrogation-bright lamps hung over a row of empty booths. Surrounded by rickety watering holes and scrap yards on an eerie stretch of Garrity Boulevard in Nampa, Krung Thai seemed at once out of place and oddly at home.
Luckily, the chill of the facade quickly dissolved once we got inside. An assortment of couples and families hunched over a sprinkling of tables, and the place seemed unusually bustling for a Tuesday night. My date and I were led through the carpeted dining room, past a gushing fountain and seated at one of the booths. Set on the table were three beastly, leather-bound menus--two Thai and one sushi.
After a quick glance at the first plastic coated page, the diversity of the menu became apparent--satay, fried baby back pork ribs, dumplings, tempura veggies or crab Rangoon. It was a veritable Asian Epcot Center of appetizer menus. To test Krung Thai's Thai chops, we went with the Tod Mun ($6.95): fried fish patties with a vinegary cucumber relish. The lightly curried nuggets, filled with chopped green beans and flecks of Kaffir lime leaf, had such a uniform, spongy texture that I assumed they contained egg or bread crumbs. Nope, our waitress shook her head. Just fish, green beans and spices. The secret, which she seemed hesitant to reveal, involves lots of mashing.
With pulverized fish cakes and miso soup mingling in our bellies, we embarked on round two: sushi and pad Thai. The Red Dragon roll ($10.95), stuffed with tempura-fried shrimp and avocado and topped with tuna and spicy aioli, solved one of the greatest tempura-fried-sushi dilemmas. The batter retained its fried crunch even after wading into a bath of murky wasabi soy sauce. Though the deep fried fish and ample mayo combo seemed more British pub than Japanese, the roll somehow managed to pull off being both hearty and fresh.
To my delight, the pad Thai with tofu ($8.95) also avoided a common shortfall of its peers. It walked the tightrope of deliciousness between being overly peanut buttery or overly vinegar-y and finished with a mildly spicy bow. The flat, silken noodles were cooked to perfection and the bean threads, which can also ruin a good pad Thai by being too juicy or too limp, were joyfully inoffensive. It was the best pad Thai I've had in a while.
As we bit into a couple of post-meal York Peppermint Patties and made our way to the door, something caught my eye. Propped up on the restaurant's front counter was a fleshy pink watermelon hacked up to spell "Happy Thanksgiving Day." It was just the right odd touch to bring back the David Lynch goosebumps from earlier and send us off into the cold Nampa night with an eerie wink.
--Tara Morgan prefers her eraser heads shaped like unicorns.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Krung Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar.