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Jun 9, 2008 11:46 AM

Suwana's Thai Orchid - Asheville

Opened in late May in a former Italian restaurant at 148 Tunnel Road. It's in a single-story, stand-alone building very conveniently located to Exit 6 of Rt-240. Plenty of parking on three sides of their building. Their menu, phones, hours, etc. can be found at their web site( (note: their carry-out menu omits the 's' in the URL and that does not work).

My wife and I ate here last night. She's Thai and we lived in Bangkok for 12 years so we know what authentic Thai food is supposed to taste like. Our bottom line is that this place is, by far, the best we have seen in NC this side of Raleigh.

They have about 20 table/booths in two areas. There is a drinking bar but they have not yet been able to obtain a liquor license, so it is currently BYOB. They also have a massive sushi bar but it does not seem to be in use yet. Business was brisk with about 8 tables being occupied while we were there.

The tables were set with knives and forks so we had to ask for tablespoons so we could eat Thai style. There were supposed to be two waitresses but one was out sick so the Manager, a Thai man named Khun Thuan, waited on us. We ordered:

YUM PLA MUK - squid salad. Excellent, though some people might find the large rounds of squid too chewy.

PHAD PHED PLAA DUK - catfish and vegetables (ผัดเผ็ดปลาดุก). This dish is off the menu and was suggested by the manager. It consists of chucks of catfish fried with pieces of carrot, tomato, onion, green and red pepper, hot peppers, fresh basil, stalks of peppercorns and a spicy sauce. It was excellent.

PHAD THAI with shrimp - an excellent dish and made right.

GAI YANG - barbecued chicken. Although we already had enough food we ordered this superlative dish as an afterthought. It was supposed to be a half of a chicken but turned out to be a half of a Cornish game hen. So it was small and perhaps a little old but the flavor was excellent.

For desert we had the mango with sticky rice and this was served very artistically with a large carved strawberry on the side. Again, made just right.

Service was excellent, portions were generous and the price quite reasonable at $45.

They also have a number of Japanese dishes on the menu including various sushi and bento.

Of the 15 or so Thai restaurants we have been to in the Asheville, Greenville, Spartanburg corridor this is easily the most authentic and is our favorite.

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  1. Wow, thanks for the review - I have found the existing joints in town to be fair at best when compared to a larger city. I'll be there tomorrow!

    12 Replies
    1. re: jbyoga

      Has anyone dined at Thai Orchid recently? My husband and I were going to have lunch there for the first time on Tuesday. Their sign said Open, but there was only one car in the parking lot, which we thought must belong to the staff. When we saw no diners during the weekday lunch hour, we thought it wasn't a good sign, so we skipped it.

      1. re: kjen

        Similar experience ~ tried to make a reservation for 12 people on a Wednesday night. Website shows they are open, but when I called they said they were closed.

        1. re: NANCY

          Grrr. I'll be so not happy if our only chance at a good Thai place closed before I got to go! Hello other Thai places....stop sucking!

          1. re: jbyoga

            Good news! I just called and as of today they are open...gonna head over there tonite! Details to follow....

            1. re: jbyoga

              Ciao Hounds - Well, I made it here last night and while I was solo and thus only had one dish (Phad Kee Mao) or Drunken Noodles I have the following to report:

              1. Good portion/price ratio.
              2. Tasty
              3. My only issue...I asked for my food 'Thai Hot' or 5 star or whatever their system is for hot food. I told the server I would NOT send it back if it was too hot and I took full responsibility for my actions. Well....It was so mild you could've rubbed it in your eyes and not cried. Really. When I asked for the spice tray I was brought a somewhat respectable tray with the usual except the dried chilies were pizza type chillies instead of the really fine ground ones I am used to seeing. Also, the waitress was INCREDULOUS that I'd want my food somewhat more spicy than ketchup. Then the chef came out and was also surprised to see anyone could want hotter food.

              People - If I'd said extremely MILD I would have expected the dish to taste as it did.

              Anyhow - I will try them again as I've been reading Thainut's comments for a while now and want to try (and impressed to see on the menu) Spicy Green Papaya Salad and Mango with Sticky Rice - Items found on Authentic Thai Menus (take note other Thai places...)

              Anyone else...?

              1. re: jbyoga

                Phad Kee Mao is certainly supposed to be spicy, at least in Thailand. I just showed your report to my wife and she thought that the problem was likely that you are a Westerner whereas if she went in and ordered it, and asked for it 'Thai Hot,' it would come out that way, but in your case they were fearful of vulcanizing your taste buds. This is a difficult prejudice to get past in stateside Thai restaurants.

                Anywho... thanks for confirming that the place is still open. We'll have to get back up there soon and try some new stuff.

                1. re: ThaiNut

                  My wife and I went in tonight and had a wonderful experience. Sept. is always the best time in asheville to get into places, very little tourist in town. We started with the TOM YUM and TOD MAN GOONG; excellent. We had the THAI FRIED RICE as our main course; very nice flavors.

        2. re: kjen

          Suwana's Thai Orchid will start opening again on Wednesday's as of September 24, The new website URL is if you want delivery go to Also they have alchol now. If anyone know's a sushi chef wanting to rent a sushi bar send him/her their way.

          1. re: radman889

            Just tried to make a reservation for a party of 16 on Wednesday Sept 24th ~ they're closed. I'm giving up on this place.

            1. re: NANCY

              Gee--cut them a little slack--great food 6 days a week--I'd rather have them closed on a Wednesday than on the weekend like 12 Bones (admittedly not a Thai place, but still a must-visit for me)

              1. re: KyMikey

                Slack they get......even more if they just make up their minds. Calling for a reservation is a confusing experience. The first time I called they told me that they were closing on Wednesday nites because they didn't have any business. Was glad to hear that they would be open effective 09/24 and called immediately. Same story, they didn't seem sure if they were open or not.

                I'll eventually try them but with just 2 or 4, can't risk a party of 16.

            2. re: radman889

              sorry still closed on wednesday's. The chef has to have at least one day off

        3. The original comment has been removed
          1. Ate there Sat nite 9/13--admittedly got there at 9:45 PM, but I was the only one in the place (second time I have eaten there in 2 weeks, and I live 7 hours away) The female owner couldn't have been nicer and was curious why there wasn't more traffic (gas prices or ??) Had a terrific meal including an entree that she suggested. The sticky rice with mango was a fantastic finish--as good as I've had anywhere. I hope more Hounds try to patronize this place so it is still there the next time I pass through Asheville.

            1. Suwana came out to our table and spoke to us about what we wanted. She was a lot of fun and prepared food that everyone at our table loved. The service was not good, but the food actually made up for that fact.

              1 Reply
              1. re: McChow

                Yes, she was great to me also, making several suggestions (accepted) and yet puzzled as to why the place wasn't busier on a Sat nite. I can't wait to get back there (early Nov) and order the Phad Phed Plaa Duk that ThaiNut suggested.