I happened to go to one of the best Thai restaurants on Monday night so I brought my camera along. The occasion was a birthday party and as a result my attention was not as fully directed at the restaurant as usual. I’ll keep this a little shorter than normal and try to tell you a bit about the place and why I like it.
The restaurant is Auburn Thai Garden located in, you guessed it, Auburn. It’s on 49 just over a half mile north of 80, technically on Palm Ave. I only get a chance to come here maybe a couple times a year and I’m always looking forward to it when I do.
From the get-go it looks like a pretty typical Thai restaurant. This night they were fairly busy all night so I didn’t get a chance to photograph the dining room. It’s basically a small to medium sized rectangular room, nicely decorated and with big windows along the front. These help the room feel more open than even the much larger Ruen Thai, where it can seem like you’re trapped in a box (despite that box being filled with delicious food). In addition to the main dining area, further back and up a small ramp you will find a little room with a few more tables. This is a good spot for a larger party (and where we were sat this night).
Again, it has a lot of what you’d find on the usual Thai restaurant menu. One thing you won’t find anywhere else however is the page-long beer list which starts out ordinary at the top and gradually becomes extraordinary by the time you get to the bottom. Down there you’ll find large craft bottles such as Mirror Mirror (a barleywine from Deschutes), Abyss (a Russian Imperial Stout also from Deschutes) and one of my personal favorites, Parabola (also a Russian Imperial Stout, this one from Firestone Walker). The owner/operator, Nu, is a huge craft beer geek and always has something great to offer on this list (which changes regularly I assume based on availability. Tonight I shared a bottle of Abyss with my friend Justin. It was intensely rich and pretty good, though I would say the Abyss we had on draught at Final Gravity, during their annual Stouterday tap takeover in December, was a lot better.
Tonight we ordered a handful of dishes and a couple appetizers to share. Everything I’ve ever had here has been fantastic and tonight was no exception. Usually one of the items we order is the Crying Tiger (premium tender steak grilled to perfect Med-Rare served on bed of Thai Garden coleslaw drizzle w/ our spicy homemade Thai steak sauce)[$15.95], which is an incredibly succulent steak with a rich and fiery syrup-like sauce over it. Unfortunately they were out tonight so we subbed in an extra curry.
For appetizers we did Gai Satay (grilled skewered strips of tender chicken breast marinated in creamy coconut milk and mild curry powder served w/ out small cucumber salad and house peanut dipping sauce)[$7.95]. These were pretty standard, and by that I mean great slathered in peanut sauce.
The other appetizer was Pot Stickers (pan seared chicken & vegetable filled pot stickers served w/ our sweet ginger soy sauce)[$7.95]. Like the chicken satay this was pretty similar to most pot stickers you can get at the average Thai restaurant. Tasty but nothing to write home about.
One of our regular orders is their Green Avocado Curry (tender sliced chicken breast w/ avocado, green beans, bamboo shoots, eggplant, bell pepper and basil simmered in our creamy green coconut curry)[$12.95]. This is always the first to be devoured and it’s the best green curry I’ve had anywhere, it’s flavorful and amazingly smooth and creamy. I wish I was eating some right now.
It’s rarely a Thai dinner with me if there’s no Pad Se Ew (stir fried wide rice noodles w/ sliced chicken breast, egg, broccoli, carrots, and caramelized garlic in our tangy sweetened dark soy sauce)[$9.95], so that was our second item. Once again, simply some of the best of this dish I’ve had. Incredibly flavorful with plenty of the rich sauce and the noodles were cooked perfectly, slick with dark sauce and not a single pair stuck together.
Our last item, and the one we got instead of the Crying Tiger, was the Rambutan Curry (Rambutan w/ sliced chicken breast, pineapple, tomato, green bean, eggplant, carrot, bell pepper and basil leaves simmered in homemade red coconut curry)[$13.95]. This one was a first for us all. We didn’t have a clue what rambutan meant. Once we received the dish and were serving ourselves we started to question what the small round objects were. They almost looked like little onions. The server happened to be by us filling waters so we asked and she told us the rambutan is a fruit. Indeed it had a sweet flavor to it and was quite juicy, though I would still say texture was closer to an onion. This curry was fantastic and, with the rambutan and pineapple, much sweeter and more tropical feeling than the green avocado curry. I’d definitely order it again as I also love red curry.
For dessert, and they have a pretty good selection compared to most Thai places, we did the Fried Banana A La Mode. It is basically slices of banana in spring roll-like wrapping fried crisp and served with two big scoops of vanilla ice cream. These were still quite warm when we got them and needed a little bit of time to cool off. They were excellent. I’m not sure what kind of ice cream they get but it’s pretty creamy and rich, and goes great with the banana.
Overall, as usual, a stellar visit to Auburn Thai Garden. I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s bit of a haul up 80, but it might just be with the 40 minute round trip. Better yet, just plan to go here the next time you pass through Auburn.
(so much for keeping it short)