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Published November 10, 2010, 12:00 AM

Restaurant review: Simplicity suits Thai Orchid

Thai Orchid’s recent move to a space in the Moorhead Center Mall testifies to the popularity of the restaurant, and our city’s taste in Asian cuisine.

By: Eric Daeuber, special to The Forum, INFORUM

Restaurant review

Thai Orchid

Moorhead Center Mall, 510 Center Ave.

Cuisine: Classic

Ratings:

  • Food: three stars
  • Service: three and a half stars
  • Ambiance: two and a half stars

Dining details

  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
  • Phone: (218) 227-0099
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Alcohol: Wine and beer
  • Dress: As you like
  • Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

Thai Orchid’s recent move to a space in the Moorhead Center Mall testifies to the popularity of the restaurant, and our city’s taste in Asian cuisine.

Sushi is everywhere now, but it was only a short time ago that the food was thought to be almost un-American. You can get teppanyaki in town if you like a show with your meal. And with Lucy’s we have some authentic Chinese fare to complement the glut of buffets.

Thai Orchid’s transition is another move in the growing demand for Asian food with a restaurant that offers more comfortable dining and a more open atmosphere. It’s a step up, to be sure, but, still, there’s only so much one can do with a shopping mall restaurant.

You can get a window seat, but the view of traffic on Center Avenue is less than inspiring. They have done what they can with floor covering and decor using traditional Thai patterns and images. Thai music in the background makes you forget for a time that it’s a shopping mall and the atmosphere is mercifully understated. And they have put linens on the table and real napkins in your lap. But still, it’s the Moorhead Center Mall, and it’s hard to keep that at bay.

The restaurant’s service is very good as long as the crowd is manageable. And the wait staff knows the menu well enough to make constructive suggestions. Plus, the food hasn’t changed.

A novice to the Thai experience can be introduced to most of the chef’s specials by ordering the Thai Feast ($34.95), which includes many of the grilled dishes you’ll find on the menu in quantities big enough for three. But, in spite of the menu category, grilling is not one of Thai Orchid’s specialties.

Meats can be dry, and it’s hard to keep these things hot. But sitting in the middle of the Thai Feast platter there is a hint of what is really worth the visit – the flavors in the sauces: cucumber, curry, peanuts and spice.

You’ll find these flavors in the excellent stir-fried dishes and curries, perhaps most notably in the pad Thai.

A dish with stir-fried rice noodles and a variety of ingredients, pad Thai is to Thailand what Buffalo wings are to Buffalo and French bread is to France.

Thai Orchid shines in this kind of preparation and can deliver rice and noodle dishes to your table in an almost endless parade of combinations. Most dishes can be ordered with a variety of meats and seafood or made vegetarian, ranging in prices from $9.95 to $13.95.

Curry dishes are equally good, with enough of the necessary pungent odors and flavors to give you a taste of basic southern Thai cuisine. In short, stick with comfort foods, and you’ll walk away with a taste for Thai and happy with your tab.

Thai Orchid has a strong following, and it’s easy to understand why. There are better places to do the more exotic Thai dining experience, LeeLa among them. But at Thai Orchid, think noodles and rice.


Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach

him at food@daeuber.com.


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