Review: Sirirath Thai House does Thai food right
Forum food critic Eric Daeuber praises the food, service and atmosphere at the West Fargo restaurant.
WEST FARGO — Thai cuisine is known for its aromas, its use of complex combinations of herbs and spices, and heat. Sirirath Thai House in West Fargo covers all those bases. And it adds good service and a pleasing atmosphere.
Together, these make for a very good introduction to Thai food, if you are new to it, and, if you are familiar with it, it adds to the growing number of Asian options in Fargo.
It doesn’t seem as though our community could have grown so much that there are places in this urban area that long time residents haven’t visited yet, but the explosion of development in the west and south of Fargo means there are options that you may not have considered.
Located in a small strip mall just off Veterans Boulevard, Sirirath Thai House, 749 23rd Ave. E., makes good use of its small space. Strip malls aren’t known for intimate dining options, and there is no doubt that something is lost when there is no real architecture to take advantage of. But the dining space has a clean, urban feel to it with simple appointments and good lighting.
Given that Sirirath has spent most of its business life navigating a pandemic, it’s not a surprise that it does a good takeout business. But the dining space is quite striking and very much worth a visit.
If there was a weakness in our recent evening there, it was the curry puff appetizer ($5.95). Soft and a bit greasy, rather than substantial and crisp, the idea of a curry dumpling is still appealing.
The high point, though, came moments later — the simple, elegant, colorful, intricately flavored octopus salad ($6.95).
Mild ginger and bamboo shoots give the salad a fresh, light feel, but the main ingredients, octopus and black mushrooms, bring the kind of umami to the dish — meaning it’s cool and bright but, at the same time, holds its own as something more than a side salad.
A good introduction to everything Thai is the basil duck ($17.95). As far as essentials to Thai cooking are concerned, a lot of them are in this dish. Thai basil, ginger, peppers and chiles along with bamboo shoots bring together a lot of traditional Thai flavors, and duck is not as common an ingredient in the Fargo area as one might expect.
Restaurants with an international flair often struggle with the question of how Westernized a dish needs to become in order to appeal to the Midwestern palate. Sirirath resolves this by offering spice levels from 0 to 5, and 3 was just about plenty for this dish, giving enough spice but allowing subtler flavors to have a voice.
Another excellent traditional option is the prik king ($12.95) that brings lemongrass, garlic and chiles to the dish in a drier kind of curry than is often served. It can be made with a variety of meats, but at its center are green beans representative of the freshness of the vegetables evident in all the dishes.
The dessert menu is limited as is often the case in Thai restaurants. The fried banana and ice cream is shareable but there are so many excellent dishes on the menu, the $7.95 might better be spent on an appetizer to round out your meal.
Portion sizes are satisfying, and the service is prompt and friendly. Servers are well-versed in the menu and can help navigate it if you are new to Thai food.
Sirirath Thai House adds to a growing list of other Asian options in the community, including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and other Thai regional offerings.
Sirirath Thai House
Where: 749 23rd Ave. E., West Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
Alcohol: beer and wine
Ratings (out of 4)
Food: 3 stars
Service: 3.5 stars
Ambiance: 3.5 stars
Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at email@example.com.