Local foodies are nuts about Nam and Tamarind Seed. Both places serve up good Thai food in a sleek, ultra-modern setting, but both also charge outrageous prices. These might qualify as “special occasion Thai restaurants,” but I’d never choose either of ’em as “my Thai place.”
We are big fans of Jitlada, where the staff is friendly and the prices more moderate. We enjoy Sabydee Thai, a nice spot within walking distance of our home, where the generous entrees compensate for the stingy appetizers. We go to both often, but, so far, neither of these whispers “You’re home.”
Last night, as a cold rain fell, we lacked the energy to drive all the way to Jitlada, and so we stopped in at The King and I. The restaurant’s been around forever, squeezed in between a gay gift shop and a gay watering hole, and we ate there once, six years ago, and, for reasons we can’t recall, never returned.
Last night’s dinner, though, was a joy. The smiling owner introduced himself, walked me through the list of specials, and gleefully indulged my hesitant attempts to converse in Thai. The summer rolls were plump and deliciously chilly, stuffed with fat shrimp and tender strips of pork. My green curry chicken was pleasantly spicy, with fresh vegetables and succulent white meat. Clyde’s chicken neu was steeped in a fragrant, spicy red sauce.
We shared the place with four outlaw bikers, a preppy gay couple, and two corporate clones, all of whom seemed delighted by their orders. And while the interior will never win a design award, the atmosphere is relaxed, the kitchen is speedy, and the prices are reasonable (we snagged an appetizer and two generous entrees and, as a couple, spent less than $25.00).
The King and I is serving down-home, no-frills Thai cooking … the sort of food that would make Tim Bunniran at the Thai house proud. We savored every bite, took leftovers home, and felt really good about every minute we spent at one of the restaurant’s tidy little tables. If you’re over near the Ansley Mall, stop by.