International travel has been drastically limited by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the things I miss the most about traveling to a different country is the chance to sample local cuisine. A good bowl of bánh phở can take me back to the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh, while a good loaf of crusty sourdough bread with sliced ham and Swiss cheese can almost make me mistake the mountain in front of our house for the Alps.
So while international travel is not an option for us at the moment, we look to restaurants such as Smile Thailand.
Stepping into the restaurant, you find yourself retreating into one of the world's favorite tourist destinations. Elephants, teak wood panels, and brilliant hand woven silk fabrics adorn the space. The staff speak to each other in the soft lilt of Thai, gentle and friendly. But, it is the food that draws you in.
Thai dishes are particularly satisfying because they combine and balance the five main flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. We ordered Thai green curry and it was rendered perfectly: fragrant from the herbs, creamy sweet, salty and spicy, thin and 100% addicting.
We also ordered the pad kra pao (ground chicken), classically served with rice and a fried egg. This rustic spicy stir-fry is made aromatic with holy basil. The runny yolk of the fried egg balances the strong spiciness of the ground chicken, making it a truly satisfying dish.
Smile Thailand's Tom Yum Kung Ramen, reportedly received three stars in the undercover survey, so we plan to come back to sample that next time.
Like most restaurants, lunch is the best time for great value sets. At Smile Thailand, sets start at ¥980 and top at ¥1,280, with most sets at ¥1,080. The sets come with special house tea, fresh spring rolls, clear Tom Yum soup (if the main dish is not soupy), and fragrant Jasmine rice (if the main dish does not come with rice).