Tamarind, Arden NC
I've eaten at a ton of Thai resturants- and Wanpen is by far the best in Asheville!!! Their lunch buffet is so so- not bad but not totally authentic- they must be catering to the lunch crowd. But dinner the 7 times Ive eaten there is delightful. Every dish I've had and my wife as well as all of our friends (who have been eating there for years) have all said the same thing- and love it! If you get bad service or food at this place it would be a suprise to me. Atmosphere and building are not the best- but the food makes up for it. I think this place is classified as being in Arden, NC off of Hendersonville Rd. Enjoy!!!
I've eaten at Tamarind several times, and tonight I'm enjoying takeout from them. While it isn't *cheap*, it isn't overly *expensive* either. Tonight I'm enjoying the Red Curry dish as well as the Pad Thai. For an appetizer I'm enjoying the Sate. Everything is excellent. The food is very fresh, not over cooked, and the *medium* spicy level is great. I like spice, and it's perfect.
For ThaiNut to say Tamarind is ostentatious is absurd. It is a simply appointed restaurant that serves it's purpose well. The food is well prepared, perfectly spiced and obviously quite excellent for me to return several times. Ostentatious is the Ritz Carlton, and quite frankly, there have been a few Ritz restaurants I would not return to.
I've enjoyed Thai Basil as well. I have only been there twice, and each time I enjoyed what I ordered immensely. I'm quite a fan of soup, and I've enjoyed the cocunut chicken as well as the Tom Yum a lot.
Oops. I wanted to add that I would never darken the doors of Wan Pen. I've driven by it countless times and each and every time the parking lot is empty, the neon signs are still burned out and the owner's Land Rover is parked out front. If s/he can't take the time to ensure that his signage is working, then I'm sure that s/he doesn't have time to clean the kitche.
It's funny, I envisioned visiting Wan Pen the other day during a mid-day nap, and I swore that when I walked into the front door I saw one of those cigarette vending machines of yesteryear.
To my knowledge there is no 'Thai Taste' in H'ville. H'ville has only the brand new 'Thai Spice.' If you mean 'Thai Spice,' I can give you driving directions. Would you be coming from the Asheville area?
The only 'Thai Taste' I know of is one in Spartanburg, SC (146 Southport Road, Spartanburg, SC, 864-595-6040, open 7 days a week)
(Note: another source gives the street address as 145). I've not been to this place yet.
The ostentation I credited to the Tamarind had mostly to do with the rather silly flare that the waiter used when bringing the food to our table. It was a bit too theatrical for me.
And please don't take my admittedly critical reviews of most of the local Thai restaurants the wrong way. My whole slant towards a Thai place is not whether the food tastes good but whether they are producing AUTHENTIC stuff just the way you'd get it back in the mother country. To many people, yourself included I am sure, the food at Tamarind and other Thai restaurants tastes super. But, unfortunately, it is not the real stuff.
As for Wan Pen's, yeah, for dinner she rarely packs people in. But she does a brisk carry-out and her lunchtime buffet, which I've never done, reportedly does extremely well. She's been operating for 8 years so must be doing something right. The place is a tad worn, and the men's room is close to being a disaster. Wan Pen is almost as guilty of Americanizing her dishes as much as the other local Thai places but but my wife and I return there because that's where we can get AUTHENTIC Thai food as long as we say a few magic words to the waitress.
Dried onion (actually it was probably crispy fried) on the custard? Thai's do funny things with sweets. In Bangkok the ice cream vendors on the street with their little push carts serve it to you laid out in a hot dog bun and they have a variety of toppings that'd seem strange to us. They do the same with pizza. They use toppings we'd never think of.
sigh it was Sunday and Little Bee wasn't open and we were craving Thai soo despite reading the reviews and warnings we tried. ...lesson learned.
listen to the reviews
I ordered pad thai something pretty simple that any thai restaurant should have perfected.The bean sprouts tasted bitter and it had a overall charred taste.
My husband ordered the curry at a level 3 and it was ridiculously unedibly hot.
Don't go. Next time I will wait for Little Bee to open on Tuesday.
This morning elsewhere within ChowHound I posted a review of the 'That Taste' restaurant that opened this last Sunday in Hendersonville. I rate it as the best in the Asheville area. For 3-4 years I've been making reviews of all the Thai places we visit so below is a capsule summary. But note that there are dozens of other Thai restaurants in NC and SC that we have not visited.
Wan-Pen Thai Restaurant
2292 Hendersonville Road (Highway 25), Arden
1 Page Ave., Asheville (ground floor of Grove Arcade)
Was good initially but has recently taken a downward slide in the food authenticity. Not cheap.
70 Westgate Shopping Center, Asheville
So bad we got up and left after after looking at the menu. Whatever it is that they serve it is NOT Thai food.
Noi's Thai Kitchen
535C Merrimon Ave, Asheville
A disappointment due to too much Americanization of the flavors.
Tamarind Thai Cuisine
330 Rockwood Road, Arden
Pricey, ostentatious and everything we ordered came out too sweet.
The only other Thai place I know of in the Ashville area is a place called, I think, 'Thai-Sushi' which is located on Biltmore Ave in Pack Square. This is just a Japanese sushi restaurant that added a few Thai dishes to their menu. I was so unimpressed with the Thai offerings that I ordered sashimi instead.
Other Parts of North Carolina
Thai House Cuisine (previously named 'Thai Garden')
East Gate Shopping Center
1408 Hardimont Road, Raleigh
This is an excellent Thai restaurant, one of the best we have found in NC.
5410 NC Highway 55 East, Durham
This is an another excellent Thai restaurant, and is one that we would definitely go back to. It is located in the Greenwood Commons Shopping Center.
106 N. Main Street, Downtown Greenville, South Carolina
We rate this restaurant as only fair. Our request that the cook be asked to make our dishes in authentic Thai style did not work.
A bit expensive.
In a shopping Center on the west side Rt-276E in Traveler's Rest. A mile or so past Furnam Univ. Absolute disaster. This place is a joke.
Last night my husband and I finally tried Tamarind Thai Cuisine. I had the Green Curry with pork, which was delicious! They rate the spice hot factor from 1-5. I chose 2. I like spicy food, but don't like my mouth burning, where I don't enjoy the flavor. Two was almost too hot. My mouth did burn, but I still enjoyed the curry. My husband had the Roasted Basil Duck and asked for a 5 spice heat factor. Maybe they got the numbers mixed up, because his wasn't very spicy hot. I tried his duck, but didn't care for it. To me it tasted kind of fishy. He thought it was just ok. He liked my curry a lot better. For dessert I ordered Coconut Custard. I was expecting a cold custard. They served the custard hot, which was fine, however, in addition to the coconut flavor, it also tasted slightly like onion...Sure enough, what we thought was toasted coconut on top of the custard was toasted onion...Thinking the cook accidently put onion instead of coconut on the dessert, we asked the waitress about it. She said it was supposed to be that way...
My husband doesn't want to go back, but I will probably go back and stick to the curry, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Has anyone heard of Thai Coconut Custard being topped with toasted onion?
I am curious what other Chowhounders have thought of Tamarind.
My husband and I tried Tamarind not long after it opened (this past summer) and had a similar experience to yours, Kjen. Some items were decent, others were almost boring (I apologize - it's been so long ago, I don't remember what we got). We love Thai and had hoped this would be good since it was close to home. Decor is nice. We thought the prices were a little high for what we got (and we don't mind spending some change for a good meal). We sent our friends there to see if it was any better for them (different entrees). They had the same opinion as we did. So, I guess I wouldn't write it off completely, but would be interested to hear more opinions before I go back.
My (Thai) wife and I were stationed in Bangkok for 12 years where I was assigned to the embassy. We KNOW Thai food and are always looking for new Thai
restaurants in the Asheville area. We visited Thai Tamarind shortly after they opened but have no plans to go back. Even though we sent a note, in Thai, into the kitchen asking for truly authentic dishes all we got was the watered down stuff typical of most Thai restaurants in the U.S. where the cooks feel a need to modify
the taste to suit what they think the Western palate enjoys. At Tamarind we ordered four dishes and all of them came out too sweet, another common fault
of stateside Thai restaurants. Lastly, we thought the place the was quite over-priced considering quality and quantity.
In my opinion - Noi's is the best Thai in Asheville - I find it to be the least 'Gringoized' Thai in town. Also, they have realistic prices - since when was Phad Thai a $12 (or more) dish? It's insulting to anyone who cooks (.32 of noodles) or has been to a Thai place in a metropolitan area where noodle dishes are more realistically priced ($6-7)
Sorry, but I have to say that Noi's Kitchen on Merrimon is even worse than average for stateside Thai restaurants. Noi herself is delightful but my wife and I found the food bland and VERY unauthentic. I went back there once by myself and the food was still very poor. I have no plans to try it again. Also need to say that the ThaiCoon in Traveler's Rest near Furnam Univ is
thbe absolute worst for authentic Thai food. The owner mentioned to the Thai cook that he had two customers that spoke Thai so the cook came out to see us. Nice guy and I am sure he can be a fine cook but beore too long he actually apologized to us for the poor quality of the food. In Thai, because the owner did not understand what he was saying, the cook told us that he was forced to cook the food the way he did by the owner who apparently has his own perverted sense of what Thai food should taste like. Now my wife and I joke about that place as we drive by. I believe the only reason it can continue to operate is that the majority of the customers are Furnam students who, smart though they might be, do not know beans about real Thai food.