Atlanta restaurant reviews, culinary news, and gluttonous gossip by admitted foodaholic Serina Patrick

Thai Street Food at Tuk Tuk

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Just one of 80 restaurants participating in Taste of Atlanta October 22nd and 23rd!The Niyomkul family is to Thai food in Atlanta what the Bastianich family is to Italian food in New York. Charlie and Nan have given us an authentic taste of Thailand for many years with Tamarind (now closed), Tamarind Seed, and Nan.

Now their daughter DeeDee is at the helm of their latest operation, Tuk Tuk Thai Loft in the Brookwood Hills shopping center. Her focus is on street food, some of the same dishes her grandmother prepared as a street food vendor in Bangkok years ago.

Entering the tiny lobby, one is greeted by a shiny new motorized rickshaw, called a tuk tuk, complete with orange and white leather seating. It is surely a prop for many visitor photo opps, especially after a few drinks.

From there, guests take an elevator to the third floor which opens to reveal a gorgeous space, a brilliant renovation from its former incarnation as Taurus.

Greeted by Thaddeus Keefe, chef DeeDee’s fiance’ and business partner, he gave me a brief tour of the dining room and kitchen, each element brought from Thailand and painstakingly chosen by the couple. Speaking of their decision to open Tuk Tuk, Keefe quipped “We were going to get married but ended up having a baby instead (laughing)”.

Seated by the manager CY at a table next to a large shelf filled with Asian cookies and such in metal canisters, B and I ordered a bottle of red wine. We both loved the restaurant’s sleek decor with dark wood tables and elegant lighting. Each table had one odd chair. Naturally, I chose to sit in the lone tapestry armchair which was quite low, requiring CY to bring me a booster cushion without missing a beat. The staff was just that accomodating throughout our meal.

B joined me for a menu sampling that started off conservative but ended in full-on gluttony. Thaddeus recommended small tastes of several starters, beginning with a single serving of a popular street snack called mieng kum, beautifully presesnted on a spinach leaf with chopped peanuts, lime, ginger, onions, and coconut, the flavor of each ingredient clear and pronounced.

An assortment of skewers were presented, two each of beef, pork, and mini beef meatballs, suspended from a metal frame with dipping sauces below. Both B and I favored the beef with the tamarind chili sauce. A side of sticky rice in a tiny bamboo steamer reminded me of the sticky rice I used to get in New York, the size of a baseball, wrapped in plastic wrap.

The third item from the menu’s small plates was the hoy tod, a crispy omelette with mussels recommended by friends on Facebook. Sounded interesting, but with most things described as crispy, it was battered and fried. It was topped with scallions, cilantro and “three flavored chili sauce”. However, I found the main flavor of the sauce to be sweet. Somehow, I think I would have preferred it un-fried.

Thaddeus suggested yum woon sen, a salad composed of minced seafood and chicken on cellophane noodles with fresh lime, onions and a touch of palm sugar. The sliced raw cabbage served alongside reminded me of larb, however, diners aren’t expected to wrap the meat in the leaves. I really enjoyed the spicy salad with the fresh, crisp cabbage…..yum! (pun intended)

Another recommendation from Thaddeus was the kra pow moo made of minced pork with Thai sweet basil and garlic. A mound of rice on the same plate was topped with a battered and fried egg. B and I like our Thai food spicy as hell. With each subsequent dish, we found the heat becoming more and more intense.

For our final savory dish we chose the Panang curry, substituting shrimp for the beef. Rich and spicy, the fragrant curry was excellent over the jasmine rice, full of plump shrimp.

Long before our visit I had read their menu online. The Bangkok snow cone caught my attention. It sounded like my favorite Vietnamese dessert made with shaved ice, coconut milk, red beans, and jellies. Nothing could stop me from ordering it, not even the six courses I had just consumed!

Well, I wish someone had stopped me. The Bangkok snow cone was horrific. An enormous bowl of shaved ice was drizzled with a bright pink “rose syrup” that tasted like cherry. My experience with red beans in Asian desserts is the sweetened canned variety, however, these were regular beans, and I swear there were garbanzos in there too! Texturally, the jellies were good but could not overcome the abomination of the dessert as a whole.

Please go to Spice Market and order the Thai jewels for a delicious riff on the traditional Asian dessert made with shaved ice. Or better yet, go to any Pho house on Buford Highway and point to the picture of a parfait on the menu for the real deal.

DeeDee suggested the coconut tapioca pudding. B wanted fried bananas too. So the kitchen combined the two for a decadent treat that we both loved!

1745 Peachtree Road 678-539-6181

Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft on Urbanspoon

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