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Jun 26, 2006 03:20 PM

Fresno-Thai Noodle Express, Downtown Stop

Last week, hubby and I moseyed downtown to Thai Noodle Express. Located in what is supposed to be Fresno's Chinatown, it is a modest cinderblock building located between a barbershop and a Latino grocery store. Inside you will find a small eating space with about 8 booths and a small buffet steam table. During the week, the place does a "business" buffet with about 6 entree choices for $6.99. Otherwise you can order off the smallish menu.

Hubby and I came after the business buffet, but being wary of any buffets not found in Vegas, we were not disappointed. We ordered Pad Thai and Basil Chicken to go. The very nice woman who took our orders also cooked them. We could hear her in the back with the woks.

Once at home we opened both clamshells and began to partake. The Pad Thai was okay but nothing special. Okay, probably our fault for ordering such a gringo dish, but honestly they are only gringo dishes on the menu. The noodles were fine, but there was hardly any flavor to the sauce at all. We ended up trying to salvage it with some more fish sauce, Sriracha, and soy. Next was the Basil Chicken, but this dish hardly had any of the signature herb in it. There were a few lonely strands, but the dish lacked the overall punch of basil. There seemed to be no attempt at a balance of Thai flavors, you could detect no kaffir lime or fish sauce or anything to make it taste very Thai. The chicken was covered in a brown sauce that tasted more Chinese than Thai.

Overall, not anything for hounds to go out of their way for. I would recommend Thai Royal Orchid as the best I've had so far.

Thai Noodle Express
943 E Street
Fresno, CA 93706

P.S. Still have to try Sweet Ginger, Star of Siam, Thai Fusion in Clovis, and a few more I have written down somewhere.

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  1. Star of Siam was pretty tasty. I had green curry to go, and ordered it "Asian-in-a-past-life" spicy. They listened (most places don't). It was full of fresh vegetables and basil leaves. However, I went back on a weeknight, and they were closed! There wasn't even a sign in the window!

    2 Replies
    1. re: sillyrabbit

      Thanks for the update regarding Star of Siam, that one is defintely on my list to try. We have driven past there a couple of times and I think they may be closed on Tuesday. Maybe that is the problem you ran into?

      1. re: sillyrabbit

        NOT a fan of Star of Siam. Toom Thai was the best Thai in Fresno, but he recently sold to new owners so I don't know how it is now. As for Star, I was not impressed with the food and I was horrified by the attitude of the owner. Pushy, arrogant, bad Karma.

      2. I can't comment on the service at Siam or the owner's attitude, since I took it to go from there only once, but she was more than willing to make substitutions for me and to make it extra spicy. PS: I think they are closed on Mondays, but whatever day it was, I made sure to check the sign. Thanks. :0)

        I like B&K Kitchen. Good service, but not spicy enough even upon request.

        I went to Million Elephant again last night. I want to like it there, because the service is so friendly, its location, etc., but the food is not top notch Thai. The vegetables in my curry were julienned, not in pieces, and the beef was salty.

        If you are in the Modesto area, try Thai House at Standiford/Tully. It's owned by two sisters who are very friendly and serve some of the best food I've had. They also have a plated buffet one Sunday a month. I guess I got spoiled from them.

        Any and all suggestions for Thai, Indian, spicy/ethnic/funky/
        hole in the wall would be appreciated. I'm fairly new to Fresno.

        1. Hey sillyrabbit, I don't know if you saw my post about Thai Royal Orchid, but it is really great. Everything was spicy as ordered with a great balance of flavors. If you get a chance to try it, please post and let me know how you like it in comparison to Star of Siam (which is on my list to try).

          I agree with you about Million Elephant, my husband and I want to like it, but the flavor is just not there. And we practically begged for spice!

          If you would like to try a spicy Chinese hole-in-the-wall, go to Little Peking. It is my favorite Chinese spot in Fresno, but it is literally a counter with a few tables and chairs. This family makes great dishes and if you ask for it really spicy, they will oblige. It is nothing fancy, but you can't beat it for good eating. We get our food to go mostly so we can enjoy at home or the park.

          Little Peking
          559) 438-4202
          7975 N Cedar Ave
          Fresno, CA 93720

          Thai Royal Orchid
          559) 431-0132
          6735 N 1st St
          Fresno, CA 93710

          Do you like Mexican?

          1. I do like Mexican. I read your post about Salsa's, and may have to mosey on down there if you can tear me away from Cuca's in the Tower. I am obsessed with their albondigas soup (good for all that ails you, and even when nothing is ailing!) and corn tortillas. Their corn tortillas are thick and soft, not tough and chewy. They CAN'T be healthy (oh well).

            Yes, I know this is off topic, but a woman cannot subsist on Thai alone.

            1. STAY AWAR FROM Star of Siam. Food was average. Service staff was nice, but the owner was something else! She is probably the most snooty and unaccomodating Thai person I've ever met! I didn't like the food or her on my first visit, but a good friend insists on trying it, so I went back to give it a second chance. Food was still average. Owner still bizarre.

              Twice in a row I tried to order papaya salad, and she said that she did have the papaya, but "too busy to make it". The restaurant was not that busy!!! There were only 3 other tables of 2-4 people in the restaurant...BOTH times! I ordered Yum Nua both times after the disappointing and strange response to papaya salad. Both times the hotness degree and the sauce was good, but way over-cooked beef...eventhough I did ask for medium rare and described what that meant to her. And at the end, when we asked her to split our check four ways on four credit cards, she said that she can't do it because the fees would cost her too much!!!! I've never been treated so strangely in any restaurant ever!

              DO try Thai Fusion in Clovis. I was skeptical by the location and general appearance of the place---too "gringo-friendly"---and was concerned that the food may not be up to par. However, when i tried it last night, I was really pleasantly surprised. The Yum Nua was perfectly cooked and the sauce and spiciness was exactly as I've grown to expect from Thai places in So Cal. It's great to find it here too! Pad Thai w/ red sauce was also good, but different from the traditional flavors of my fav places in LA. Service was excellent. Prices a little higher than usual for Thai food, but given the location, I'm not entirely surprised. However, portions was huge! Plus, the food here is so much better than Star of Siam that I will definitely come back and try other items on the menu.

              I also like Thai House...the one on Ashlan and Willow. I love their Lao style papaya salad--make it as hot as you can handle. Also, I can eat their spicy beef everyday of the week! Not crazy about their pad thai. They do have a good squid salad as well.

              The only things I like from B&K Kitchen (Olive and First) are their Tom Kha and Yum Nua...though I think I might like Yum Nua from Thai Fusion better now. :) Its location in the scary part of town will make this a togo only place for me.

              4 Replies
              1. re: liz_bt2

                Million Elephant is good for after hour, late night food (being that they serve up until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights). After a couple drinks there eggrolls are outstanding!!

                I would recommend Thaiphoon in the Tower District, located where the old Echo was on Olive. Service can be inconsistent, but the food isn't.

                1. re: cocktailqueen77

                  Thanks for the heads up re: Thaiphoon, cocktailqueen77. Is anything there especially good? Is it a "hole-in-the-wall" or more upscale?

                  I wanted to link my report on Thai Fusion and also to let people know that B&K Kitchen and Thai Fusion are owned by the same people and the menu overlaps quite a bit.


                  1. re: glazebrookgirl

                    Thaiphoon is a little of both "hole-in-the-wall" and upscale. Meaning that it is Tower District, and you can walk into any establishment there and a typical customer could have dreds wearing a nice tie (just a general example-not narrowing it down too much!!), but they do have a nice cozy and polished atmosphere.

                    Every time I have gone it has been with my friend-who happens to be a vegan-so we have indulged in the curry, tofu, and veggie dishes. All which are great. They are also very accomodating due to the fact that she is a vegan and will modify any item. Other friends who have gone say nothing but good things about what they have ordered. They also serve late night, I'm hoping to get there one of these nights and try some carniverous dishes!!

                    1. re: cocktailqueen77

                      I've tried them all in Fresno and I still maintain that Sweet Ginger is the best. Nice interior, very good food, and pleasant service. The owner/chef George has been cooking Thai in Fresno for over 20 years and he's certainly doing things right. Try the salmon with garlic/ginger sauce or the mango salad. Give it a try--the NW corner of Marks and Shaw--near Target.