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Is there good Thai in Durham/Chapel Hill?

gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 05:38 AM

I've been here for over a year now - was in NYC. I keep trying to find a good Thai restaurant. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I would even venture out to Raleigh if it were authentic.

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    bbqme RE: gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 05:43 AM

    I think we could be more helpful if we knew which ones you've tried already. I like Thai Palace in Chapel Hill of the ones I've tried in Chapel Hill/Durham/Cary. It's the little things like decorated carrots for garnishes, extremely fine juliennes of kaffir lime leaf on curries, etc. that put them a notch above the rest in my book.

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      batdown RE: gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 05:51 AM

      stay away from thai palace

      they routinely double charge your order

      service is terrible

      food is even worse

      I found no good thai food in chapel hill when I lived there. I would occasionally grab some decent vietnamese at lime and basil, which was pretty authentic and good, but thai is a different story

      2 Replies
      1. re: batdown
        rossgrady RE: batdown Feb 12, 2007 09:45 AM

        Define "routinely." I've eaten at Thai Palace at least a dozen times, and I've never been charged incorrectly for anything.

        I have no complaints about the service or the food, either. It never makes me sit bolt upright & exclaim "my god, what great Thai food!" but it's not bad at all, for the hometown Thai joint. I could see how an NYCer might find it disappointing, and I assume the OP has already tried it. I won't quibble with their disappointment, but "terrible" isn't how I'd characterize any of my Thai Palace experiences.

        The OP might want to try Merlion, which isn't Thai but rather Singaporean, but some of the flavors/styles/dishes are similar enough (and the food is excellent).

        1. re: rossgrady
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          batdown RE: rossgrady Feb 12, 2007 10:14 AM

          I've eaten there a total of 7 times in my life. 3 of those times I was double-charged on my card. They probably just dont know how to properly instruct their help in the use of the card swiper thingy.

          I'm sure there's great thai food to be had in the triangle, I just know that for me, thai palace isn't it.

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        rockycat RE: gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 06:22 AM

        I can't speak to CH or Durham, but Thai House in Raleigh on Wake Forest & Hardimont isn't bad at all. The restaurant has been under the same name for quite a while. The quality slipped badly and closed down. It re-opened under the same name but with completely new ownership. I've only had lunch there but I'm trying to find and excuse to do dinner. The food was quite promising.

        1. LulusMom RE: gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 10:35 AM

          Is Thai Palace the one at 54 and 15/501? Across from Bin 54 and Jujubee? I always thought that was just a carry-out, hole in the wall place. It would be incredible if there was an even fairly good Thai place there. Can you eat in, and are they licensed?

          3 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom
            statolith RE: LulusMom Feb 12, 2007 11:20 AM

            Yes, it's definitely an eat-in spot. As restaurants in that price range go, I think it's rather nice inside. Soft lighting (but not too dark), sectioned space (not one big room), pleasing colors & decor. Actual Thai people running the place. It may not be like dining in Bangkok (which I've done--I'm half Thai), but I like Thai Palace quite a bit.

            1. re: statolith
              rossgrady RE: statolith Feb 12, 2007 12:56 PM

              You forgot to mention the Graceland-style upholstered ceiling in one of the rooms, too!

              I would easily call it "fairly good," and yes, they've got alcohol (I assume that's what you meant by licensed).

              1. re: rossgrady
                LulusMom RE: rossgrady Feb 12, 2007 01:09 PM

                Wow, I'm happily shocked. I honestly thought it was about the size of a Subway (and probably about the same quality). I'm always excited by *good* Thai food. Yep, liquor license is what I meant, sorry if that isn't well known. I'm pretty excited about this piece of information. Thanks to both of you.

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            dubedo RE: gritstogo Feb 12, 2007 04:07 PM

            I have had good takeout from Thai Cafe (University Drive in Durham). It actually had a lovely dining room atmosphere and a nice bar, but I was in a hurry. I almost always order the same thing - tom yum and spicy beef salad - so I can only compare those dishes, but I definitely give the edge to Thai Cafe over Thai Palace. The Cafe had more of the heat and fresh, clean flavors I remember from Thailand. I think the food at Thai Palace is fine, not great but not bad by any means. A little expensive for what you get, seems to me.

            Merlion makes a pretty good tom yum, although they fancy it up with 4 kinds of seafood. The Singaporean menu spans a lot of influences, but there are several dishes we would recognize as Thai.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dubedo
              LulusMom RE: dubedo Feb 13, 2007 04:33 AM

              I do like the idea of fresh ingredients (and even more the idea of the heat - so many Thai places don't believe me when I ask for my food hot), but we live in CH so I'm excited about finding a place here. I'm a big fan of Merlion, although you do have to know what to order. I got the tom yum once and wasn't that impressed (I think the 4 kinds of seafood doesn't help ... too much to deal with), and their laksa was just plain greasy. But ... the chicken curry thing is fantastic, as is the nasi goreng (sp?). On a weird note ... has anyone else noticed that the beer always seems a little flat at Merlion? Not going to stop me from going there, but every single time we've been, we've noticed this across brands. Kind of odd.

              1. re: dubedo
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                bbqme RE: dubedo Feb 13, 2007 11:32 AM

                Thai Cafe has a "lovely dining room atmosphere?" I have to strongly disagree. I think that describes Thai Palace quite well (we like to go to the side room that has the colorful triangular pillows on the benches) but Thai Cafe has more of cafeteria feel to it IMO.

                I've eaten at Thai Cafe twice and found the food to be bland. One Thai curry dish I ordered came with cubed avacado on top that I found to be rather odd.

                Gritstogo, you'll just have to try both and see which one you like better.

              2. rossgrady RE: sushi_king Mar 13, 2007 06:38 PM

                I went back to Simply Thai today for lunch. Not sure if it's still "and Sushi," as the fish cooler was empty & the sushi menu was not offered. I can't imagine why anybody would eat sushi there with Akashi right around the corner anyway.

                My first trip to Simply Thai, I had the fresh rolls (bizarrely lettuce-heavy, and otherwise nothing special), the Tom Yum (aggressively acidic, to the point of tediousness), and the green curry with eggplant. The latter was pretty darn good; the eggplant was well- (but not over-) cooked, and the curry was nice.

                This time around I figured I should try a noodle dish, and since I've decided that it doesn't work to use Pad Thai as a yardstick (it seems to wind up mediocre at restaurants where a lot of other dishes are pretty good), I went for the Phad See Ew with tofu.

                It was kinda lousy; really sweet & gooey, skimpy on the vegetables. The tofu tasted like it had been fried sometime last week & then stored somewhere. The noodles were overdone & gluey.

                I had high hopes after that first curry, but I'm not too hopeful now. I may make one more trip to try another of the curries, since they're open for lunch & the prices are in the $6-8 range, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

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                  bbqme RE: gritstogo Mar 14, 2007 11:29 AM

                  I was very happy with the Phad See Ew at Twisted Noodle. The Chiese broccoli was plentiful and has delightfully crunchy. I'd pass on the Phad Thai though.

                  1. jthome73 RE: gritstogo Mar 15, 2007 08:38 AM

                    Penang, Penang, Penang. Oh my - Malaysian Thai. You will not be disapointed. It's in West Franklin, across from The Brewery.

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                      otto_pivner RE: gritstogo Mar 15, 2007 11:57 AM

                      Penang is pretty bad. The only time I went my dish was horribly oversalted. There are, if I recall correctly, close to 150 items on their menu. For me, that's a telltale sign to stay away -- how on earth can a restaurant do that many items well?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: otto_pivner
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                        mikeh RE: otto_pivner Mar 16, 2007 11:49 AM

                        Agreed. I don't see how Penang (a chain, and the CH location is a dim light in that chain - see the Atlanta incarnation of Penang) can ever be mentioned when we have Merlion in our backyard.

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                        emazzone RE: gritstogo Mar 16, 2007 07:06 AM

                        If you can deal with hauling over to Cary, there is a relatively new place called Viva Thai (on Maynard) that I like a lot. I used to think Wasabi in MacGregor Village in Cary was pretty good, but haven't been there in forever. Also, Sushi Thai in Cary is not too bad.

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