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Mar 20, 2007 10:00 AM

Thai in Athens

I haven't lived in Athens long and I'm feeling a craving for Thai. There seems to be a lot of options here, but I'd really like to know what place is the best. So hook me up with Athens' best spicy and delicious thai food!

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  1. Others will have differing opinions as usual, but I like Siri Thai the best when compared to Thai of Athens and the one by the Roadhouse on Lumpkin. The owner is from Bangkok - the chef may be too. I have only been once so I haven't sampled a lot of the menu, but I liked the tom yum and a curried chicken dish (was a little ill, not experimenting much). I want to see if they have Haw Moak (or Mok, I guess). Also want to try their duck offerings.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dax

      Yeah. It's Siri that's the best.

      1. re: hillarybrown

        what are the prices like at Siri Thai? I'm a poor grad student and I'm wondering what two entrees and an appetizer might come to.

        1. re: batdown

          Not inexpensive (for Athens). Dinners in the low teens as I recall. No idea on apps.

          1. re: Dax

            Just got a takeout order of panang curry chicken and a bowl of kiew nam (wonton) soup. When asked if I would like spicy, I replied yes. The soup was definitely on the firey side; I started sweating by the third spoon and I like my spicy. Panang curry chicken was good, but would prefer more vegetables (only had cut green beans and a couple slices of bell pepper) and for the curry sauce to be thicker. I'm no expert on Thai food, but I really enjoyed my meal.

            I also asked about a dish I like called Haw Moak (or Mok) and was told they do not serve it technically (it's fish wrapped in banana leaves and steamed) but could get an approximate version as the sauce is panang-based and can be thickened plus they offer tilapia and salmon. Next time I order panang anything there, at least I know I can request a thicker sauce.

            1. re: Dax

              I'll have to try Siri again. Perhaps they were getting the kinks worked out when I went....

    2. I'll probably catch heat for this, but there is no good Asian food of any sort in Athens, Siri included. I've eaten a lot of Thai food in my time, including just a few days ago at Basil in Charleston (which was awesome), and must passionately insist that we really, really need good Asian food in Athens.

      The kicker is that a restaurant like Basil would kill in this town, just be utterly swamped with business. Just pure, straight-up, honestly prepared Thai food, served up by people who know what they're doing and don't have weird "ideas" about what Americans want to eat. Somebody could make a fortune.

      19 Replies
        1. re: batdown

          also I'd like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to Cheng's Downtown, who makes the cheapest, most filling, most deliciously bad Amerinese food I've ever had. Cashew Chicken and Kan Pan with fried rice! Holler!

          1. re: batdown

            That was hilarious. I've never heard the term Amerinese before, and I haven't heard "holler!" in a long, long time.

            Where is Cheng's? I'd love to be wrong about any sort of Asian in Athens.

            I wasn't even thinking Indian when I said Asian. Is Taste of India good? Please say yes and be correct!

            1. re: uptown jimmy

              I havent tried taste of india yet, but I had bombay cafe's lunch buffet and I give it about a 6 out of 10. I've heard from people who've been to both that TOI is a lot better than bombay cafe, so I'm thinking it might be pretty good. Are there other indian spots in athens?

              Cheng's is that place on the corner of Broad and College, right across from the arch next to ben & jerry's. If you've been there, I'm sure you could see why I count it as one of my favorite guilty pleasures (right up there with a #2 from Wendy's and High Life). I know, I know, but when you've got to pinch pennies and can't eat as well as you'd like, you develop a sophisticated taste for crap food. Lord knows I have

              1. re: batdown

                "The Champagne of Beers", baby. My favorite day-to-day brew.

                Is Cheng's the same place that's been there for a long time? I ate at that location years ago and....umm...never went back....

                Bombay didn't draw me back, either. I'd give TOI a try if someone posted a good review. Then again, I might just cook at home instead.

        2. re: uptown jimmy

          His question was the about the best thai in Athens. I think what Siri offers is pretty good, but no, it certainly would not cause any of the better ones in the larger cities any concern. Then again, I haven't really eaten through much of the menu. If you spoke with the owner/chef, you might be able to convince them the real deal.

          On an aside, I went to Tasty China in Marietta last night with friends and it was the real deal. One of my friends posted about it on the TC thread on Atlanta Cuisine.

          1. re: Dax

            Siai is the best. I've been there many times for lunch and a few times for dinner. Lunch about $6 or $7 with soup and salad (or spring roll) (beverage extra) and dinner for 2 fore about $30. Food is pretty to look at, bright and fresh tasting, shrimp plump large and not overcookednice balance to the spice. Not the best Thai I've had but not bad at all. Service is usually quick and accurate but with little warmth. Pad See Eu amd Sea food Ma Meung are stand outs
            Thai of Athens on the other hand boast a very warm and friendly owner who always makes me feel like she overjoyed to see me back in her place and recalls personal details. The food is duller and not nearly as pretty but it has a homey and comforting feel. Chicken and coconut soup is sweet but tasty, Pad prik, green curry and panang are simple but delightful dishes. I take out of town family there often , no one is thrilled but everyone is happy.
            Thai Cafe has never made me happy. I may have orderd the wrong things but i always find the food dull and muddy and forgetable. Anyone else have a differnt experience?
            I like the choices at TOI buffet lunch better than Bombay but Bombay has some more interesting South Indian choices like dosai or idli on its menu. Toi has a clasic menue like any other indian restaurnat but they do a faily good job of cooking and spicing the food.
            For a totally differnt experience try the Gas station just north of the state polie on Highway 29 north. Home made style curries etc served by the owner in plasic cups and plates. The unique setting makes it a fun spot for lunch.

            1. re: gashrink

              Charminar! That's the place in the gas station. And I think it's better overall than either Taste of India or Bombay Cafe, each of which has its charms. The lunch buffet isn't very good at either downtown place, but it's wicked cheap and pretty delicious at Charminar.

              1. re: gashrink

                The pad thai at Thai of Athens is flourescent pink. That pretty much sums that place up for me!

                Though the owner is sweet as pie. Very friendly lady.

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Yes I love the chick peas or potatoes at Charminar and the goat when they have it. I don't love the chicken as much.
                  As for Thai of Athens if you find pink Pad Thai repugnant (I've had it at places in Atlanta just as pink) then go elsewhere. As I said to me that is comfort food; never exciting but always the taste I expect and served with a huge smile.

                  1. re: gashrink

                    I didn't say it was repugnant. I said it was pink!

                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                      Sorry. I assumed that your comment implied that you don't like pink Pad Thai (which is the national dish). I don't mind it but in fact I was agreeing that if one does not want pink Pad Thai one should go elsewhere. Once more for me it comfort food pink or not.<Smile>

                      1. re: gashrink

                        Pad Thai is not normally pink in my experience. More of a dull brownish color. For the life of me I don't know how they produce that particular hue of pink, though. It doesn't taste like any Pad Thai I've ever had. Oh well.

                        We used to enjoy the place, but sorta felt it went downhill. They used to serve some tasty soups and larb-style salads. I think I've spoiled us due to cooking so much at home. Asian food has been a major part of our home cooking for a while now, so maybe we're just harder to please than we used to be...

                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                          I have heard some Americanized versions incorporate a red oil, which I guess could turn the tan noodles pink.

                  2. re: uptown jimmy

                    As I am sure you're well aware, pad thai is not exactly an indicator of quality or authenticity as far as Thai food goes.

                    1. re: Dax

                      Now I'm no expert on Thailand, but I've always heard that they eat quite a bit of pad thai over there. National dish or something? No?

                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                        I assume they do as well, but from what I understand, the Americanized version is that super peanuty, heavier version of pad thai. I was led to believe the real Thai version is much lighter.

                        1. re: Dax

                          I did a crash course in the dish recently in my amateurish home-cook sort of way. I compared various online recipes to the one in my Hot-Sour-Salty-Sweet cookbook (excellent book, btw) and came fairly close to what you find in an authentic Thai restaurant, though not quite as good. I think my version is inferior because I don't have the BTUs to get the wok working properly the way those restaurant wok setups can do, nor do I have the deft hand with a wok that comes with years of practice.

                          As for comparing American to Thai versions, it's pretty amazing how different most Pad Thai in America is from the real deal, but the real deal is widely available in big cities, in my experience. I'm using the various recipes I tried, as well as experiences in restaurants, as a basis for that opinion. The book HSSS is written about the travels of a married couple on the Asian Peninsula, and the recipes tend to be authentic, so I trust that the food at, say, Basil in Charleston is the real deal because it so closely resembles the version in HSSS. It is indeed somewhat lighter and has only a few sprinkles of peanuts on top for garnish, but the main differences to me are, first, the use of many different fresh, high-quality ingredients, and then the wok sear that only comes from a really, really hot wok, plus real skills with the wok on the part of the cook, of course. They use such a wide variety of blindingly fresh ingredients, and so many little bits of this sauce or that herb, it's just a sublimely subtle array of flavors. Any recipe for Pad Thai that resembles the real thing has a LOT of ingredients, from what I've seen, and the fresher/better the ingredients, the better the dish, obviously.

                          I have a sneaking suspicion that many Thai restaurants in America get their "Pad Thai flavor" from a large can or mylar bag. I wouldn't know, as Thai is one of the few types of restaurants I haven't worked in! But I suspect that many folk have yet to try the "real deal", which is a shame. I really wish someone would bring a really kick-butt Asian joint to Athens; I'm convinced it would be a home run.

                          Actually, there was a really good noodle joint downtown years ago. They did gang-busters, but I recall the owners not getting along and the chef just bailing, after which the place quickly went straight downhill. Doh!

                    2. re: uptown jimmy

                      Went to Thai of Athens last night for my first time and ordered the Pad Thai. I had read this thread back in March and completely forgot about it until the plate came out and I just had to laugh. I thought it was pretty good but yes, the pink-ness of it is kind of funny. Good Thai iced tea (really it ever bad?), the Thai shrimp spring roll was loaded with shrimp, and the Pad Prik was decent too.

                      I'd recommend Thai of Athens and I'd call it "no-frills." I agree that the owner is very sweet and that adds to the charm, but I think they need to seriously upgrade their a/c unit.

              2. I like Siri thai as much as the next person, but I have too many bad dishes there to outweigh the good ones. Different items in a stir-fry should not all be different temperatures-- ranging from very cold to lukewarm to hot. Ground chicken and carrots with no flavorings do not make a springroll- sorry! I do have to say, if I do go out for thai, I'm going to the place downtown- now renamed the thai spoon or something like that. To be honest, when I first went there about 5 years ago it was no good. Since then, it has greatly improved. Not the best thai food I've ever had, but good enough to keep me coming back when I don't feel like cooking ti myself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: charlottecooks

                  Good to know. When I moved back back to Athens in October 06, I thought the food at the one downtown was as weak as it was back when I was in college there ('98 grad), so I moved on to Siri. I tend to get the same things there. With that said, Siri is by no means great.

                2. Siri is good, but watch out for the heat... medium ranges from a firestorm to nearly mild. Sometimes mild comes out pretty spicy as well. I like the joint tho... my choice when I wanna Thai one on.

                  tee hee