Thailand Cuisine is one of our favorite island eateries and one of our main “comfort” restaurants. If we’ve had an exhausting day or feel a little cold coming on — or even if we just want a meal before or after a movie — we walk in, sit in the first booth they point to, and surrender to the quiet, capable service.
If you already like Thai food, you’ll recognize the quality dishes. The usual suspects — pad Thai, soups, curries — are freshly made and well spiced.
Although we personally like our Thai “hot” (spicy) or “Thai hot” (volcanic), even the milder versions are flavorful. We love the Tom Ka Gai; spicy coconut soup studded with big, fresh mushrooms, slices of ginger, basil leaves, and your choice of chicken and/or shrimp. The Tom Yum soup is another comforting brew, this one spicy and sour from the kaffir lime.
The green papaya salad is crisp and puckery, studded with finely chopped peanuts. It wakes up our palate for whatever main course we’re ordering. The Yum Nuer, or Beef Salad, piles marinated beef on top of a delicious medley of vegetables. We often order this dish if we’re in the mood for a light entrée.
The Crispy Chicken is a generous mound of deep fried chicken that comes with a complex, spicy red dipping sauce. We also like the Evil Prince curry with tofu, a blend of lemongrass, basil, chilies, and coconut milk. The Pad Pet is one of our favorites — a savory brown sauce with your choice of protein. You might’ve guessed by now that we’re fans of duck done well and this humble kitchen turns out a delightful duck in red curry.
Dishes are served family style, and you can get sticky or brown rice on the side. Served in a slender woven basket, the sticky, glutinous rice is like candy — sweet, chewy, and addictive. The ingredients are fresh and local, with many coming from the owner’s garden. Beer and wine choices are limited, but they always have the light Thai beer Singha on hand, which is, of course, perfect. Before we can order dessert, the mild-mannered servers often deliver a free dish of coconut milk tapioca pudding to the table. We also like the sweet mango (when they are in season) over sticky rice.
Their combination dinners (for two, for three, for four) include some of the best items on the menu, and we recommend them for their value. Just about every dish can be made vegetarian, which our herbivore friends appreciate — doubly so since their half of the menu is titled “Vegetarian Lovers.”
Both locations are consistent and offer both dine in and take out. The dining rooms are wood paneled and have plenty of statuary and traditional décor, but also comfortable booths and real napkins. The Thai music videos blaring on the TV make us giggle, but the pretty blue matching china — from the teapot to the soup bowls — evoke that sweet, cared for feeling we’ve had at grandma’s or a beloved aunt’s. The moderate prices, excellent service, and delicious food make these little Thai joints a must-try.
Address: 70 E. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului, Central Maui
Location: in the Maui Mall
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Hours: Daily 10:30am-3:30pm; Su-Th 5-9:30pm; F-Sa 5-10:30pm
Address: 1819 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, South Maui
Location: in the Kukui Mall
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Hours: M-Sa 11am-2:30pm; Nightly 5-10pm