Our go-to for Thai is Madam Mam's but I don't think I've seen tom yum soup. Who does this well? I usually get P32, a really spicy chicken & bamboo shoot dish; simple but delish. Also, noodle soup 1, and the marinaded pork lettuce wrap appetiser is yummy too. Sorry, don't know any names (what a sad chowhounder I am)
if you are going tonight, then my suggestions are probably too late, but here they are.
when trying a new cuisine, think about what you like (and don't) in general.
thai is a lot of noodles, soups, grilled/minced meats and coconut curries (in the US at least).
someone who really hates noodles will probably not like pad thai, for instance.
two small appetizers and two different entrees would be a good start for two novice diners sharing.
i also like to include lots of textures, like a combo of fried, coconutty, crisp veggies, etc.
alan's recommendations are pretty solid, and include a lot of the well-known and -liked items.
quick list of my likes:
spring rolls (app: like lettuce wraps, with peanut dipping sauce)
tod mun (app: fish cakes with asian seasonings)
satay or pork ribs (app: basically marinated and grilled meat)
chicken wings (app: if you like wings, you may like them w/ thai seasonings)
tom yum soup (i could drink a vat of this; it's just so tasty to me)
papaya salad (very refreshing in this hot weather)
gang kiew whan (entree: green curry; i'll sub vegetables if i don't like what's included)
other things i will get if they are available:
omelette (this is hard to find in local restaurants; it's more of a homey dish).
any kind of whole fish with veggies (here, it's usually catfish).
anything with crispy duck.
muang thai is pretty solid, for the area; i've done lunch and dinner there.
thai cuisine on parmer has an appetizer and dessert buffet during lunches.
you could try some soups, the fried and fresh spring rolls, and a dessert on the house.
the lunch menu is tighter, with smaller portions, and run the $9 range, so it's good for newbies.
enjoy, and let us know what you've tried!
thai is one of my favorite cuisines, so i get excited when people try it.
I ordered Chicken Tom Yum to go and got Chicken Tom Kha by accident from Muang Thai. And I sure as heck didn't complain one bit. It was delicious and completely loaded with onions, mushrooms, and chicken. It had a stronger lime flavor than I've noticed from other places, but I liked that a lot.
I also got the green papaya salad. It was my first time to ever try it. It was good, but I suspect they use more garlic in the sauce than normal. That's all I could smell when I was driving it home and my fridge now smells like garlic too from the leftovers. Still tasty, but I want to try it from other places to make a verdict.
Where are you going? Different places do certain dishes better than others.
I assume you are looking to ease into Thai food with dishes that aren't too unfamiliar.
Without knowing the specific restaurant, my suggestions would be:
Pad Thai - a tasty noodle dish with peanut sauce, everyone's favorite
Tom Yum seafood soup - hot, sour and fragrant; one of the most popular soups in the world according to the 'net
Tom Kha - spicy soup with coconut milk, galangal and chicken
Satay - grilled chicken or pork with peanut sauce
Larb - a minced meat salad served with lime juice, fish sauce and herbs
any Thai curry - love the richness of the coconut milk.
My biggest suggestion is pay attention to the heat level of the dish on the menu.
Thai hot is extremely, mouth-burningly hot.
Are you going to Thai Tamnak in Cedar Park, or somewhere else? What's your tolerance for spicy?
Most first timers order Pad Thai, spring rolls, imperial rolls, some sort of curry, and Tom Kha soup. All good, but since you are asking on chowhound, maybe we can offer better advice.