Thai Super Bowl

Written By Scott Joseph On September 7, 2023

Thai Super Bowl counter

My heart sank a bit as I approached the counter of Thai Super Bowl, a street-food-style restaurant inside the Lotte Market on West Colonial Drive. I got there ahead of the published closing time of 7:30 p.m., but there was already a sign on the counter that read, “Sorry, we’re closed.”

The woman behind the register must have noticed my crestfallen expression and maybe was moved by the tear developing in the corner of my eye. She slowly reached for the sign and slipped it back under the counter. Yay, I could order.

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Thai Basil

Written By Scott Joseph On February 2, 2023

ThaiBasil ext

I hadn’t been to Thai Basil in more than 17 years. When the restaurant opened, in 2004, near the corner of Tuskawilla and Red Bug Lake Roads, that area wasn’t known for much beyond chain restaurants. Thai restaurants weren’t as scarce as they had been when I first came to Central Florida, but one opening in this part of town was a novelty. Most people were used to Taco Bells.

In fact, Thai Basil was and is next door to a Taco Bell. And Winter Springers (Tuskawillians?) took to TB (Thai Basil) in large numbers, so much so that TB (Taco Bell) resorted to towing cars whose drivers parked in its lot but walked next door to the Thai restaurant.

I went back to see how Thai Basil is doing these days. There was no problem finding a non Taco Bell parking space but the restaurant was doing a good business for an early-in-the-week lunch.

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Thai Farm Kitchen

Written By Scott Joseph On March 29, 2022

ThaiFarm int

The About page on Thai Farm Kitchen Orlando’s Facebook page describes the new College Park restaurant as having, “Award winning authentic Thai food from Thailand and the New York Times.” Sort of conjures up images of someone from the paper’s Food staff cooking up a batch of laab khai jiaw in the test kitchen to send out to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is where the original Thai Farm Kitchen is, and the Times mention is apparently a reference to a review by Ligaya Mishan in 2019 in the paper’s Hungry City column. Mishan, who now writes for the Eats column in the New York Times Magazine, named the Kensington neighborhood restaurant an NYT Critic’s Pick. 

Perhaps New York doesn’t have as many fine Thai restaurants as we do here in Central Florida. Ot maybe it’s the same old story of out-of-state restaurants moving to Orlando and figuring they don’t have to try too hard to impress. I could be wrong, but consider this: The back page of the College Park menu has a four-step process on “How to enjoy phad Thai correctly”; I could find no such instructions in any of the dozens of online photos of the Brooklyn menu. Because, you know, New Yorkers are born with the necessary knowledge to eat any kind of food.

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Isan Zaap Thai Cafe

Written By Scott Joseph On March 3, 2022

Isan ext

Isan Zaap Thai Cafe has taken over a space in a small group of businesses Gardens Park Boulvard, which fronts Millenia Boulevard. In fact, it replaced a fast fooder called Thai Express.

Thai Express had the typical layout with a lane along the left wall for arriving customers to approach the ordering station. Isan Zaap is a full service restaurant, so that lane isn’t needed. But instead of removing the barrier, the owners have just blocked it off.

In fact, much of the space is the same, including furniture, wall coverings and overall decor. Only the menu and name have changed.

Isan refers to the northeast of Thailand; zaap is a word that can mean spiciness or sassy.

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Naradeva Thai

Written By Scott Joseph On November 5, 2020

Naradeva duck

It hardly seems possible that it’s been almost 10 years since I reviewed Naradeva Thai, shortly after it opened in the Millenia area. (It replaced something called Bear Rock Cafe.) Not only am I surprised at the passing of a decade but also that the restaurant is still there.

I don’t recall being particularly whelmed by my experience. And Naradeva’s opening came at a time when Central Florida was seeing a wave of new Thai restaurants. I figured it would be consumed in the tide.

But it persisted. And it seems that its food has improved along the way, at least by my recent samplings.

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Thai Express

Written By Scott Joseph On November 19, 2019

Thai Express exterior

The little outparcel building in front of the Costco in the Millenia area is becoming quite the United Nations of fast fooders. There’s a Tijuana Flats representing Mexico (and the U.S. via Texas), a Sus Hi Eatstation for Japan, and now a Thai Express, representing Canada.

Well, yes, Thailand, too. But Thai Express is a Canadian-born franchise, which you might deduce from the Quebecois company’s Facebook page, which is in Frenchand the Millenia location is its first in Florida.

When I first walked into the compact space I was a bit concerned that this was going to be a Thai version of an assemblage restaurant. But it’s not. It simply offers basic Thai dishes quickly, just as the name suggests.

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Mai Thai

Written By Scott Joseph On November 7, 2019

Maithai interior

Downtown Orlando’s central business district now has three Thai restaurants, and two are within a block of each other.

Mai Thai recently took over the space at 22 E. Pine St. vacated when Artisan’s Table moved to Church Street. That puts it just a hop, skip and a tom kha gai away from Napasorn, at 56 E. Pine and close to Thai Cafe on Magnolia Avenue.

Mai Thai wants to be known as an Asian fusion restaurant, though like everything else in life wanting it doesn’t make it so. About the only thing fusionesque on the menu is the Duck Tacos, but I’ll come back to those in a moment.

MT apparently also wants to be both a restaurant and a nightclub. Apparently, after dinner service the tables and chairs are moved out of the dining room to clear way for a dance floor. That might make one wonder how serious a restaurant it wants to be, fusion or otherwise.

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Bangkok Thai Passion

Written By Scott Joseph On April 23, 2019

Bangkok Thai exterior

While I sat waiting for my food at Bangkok Thai Passion at one of only two occupied tables, a woman came rushing through the front door. She loudly expressed relief that the restaurant was open — she had tried to call in an order but the restaurant’s phone was not working. She apparently feared the worst.

I guess we all have different things that stir our passion. My experience at the Ocoee restaurant was more frigid. At least that’s what I felt from my server, who seemed desperate to be anywhere doing anything other than where and what she was. Clearly, waiting tables is not her passion. (This was in contrast to the genuinely warm welcome I had from someone I assume to be an owner when I first came through the door.)

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Thai Island

Written By Scott Joseph On June 20, 2018

Thai Island ext

Today’s review of Thai Island includes a right wing conspiracy. Or maybe it’s left wing. Wings are definitely involved.

Thai Island is at the corner of Semoran Boulevard and Michigan Street. It sits next to Wingstop, a Buffalo wings chain, and a couple of doors down from Red Wing Shoes.

And as it turns out my favorite Thai appetizer, Angel Wing, is on Thai Island’s menu. Angel wing is a chicken wing that has had the bones — the humerus and the radius bones, as it were — removed, with the resulting void filled with chopped chicken meat and clear noodles. The result resembles more of a drumstick. Why don’t they just stuff a drumstick? you ask. I don’t know, I’m just winging it here.

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Mee Thai

Written By Scott Joseph On March 8, 2018

Mee Thai interior

First we had Mai Bistro, now we have Mee Thai. Is there a trend in ego centric eateries?

I’ll leave that discussion to Freud, and I certainly won’t comment on a restaurant whose name is uncomfortably similar to a contemporary hashtag movement.

Let’s just be be straightforward here. Mee Thai is a pleasant little cafe on Lee Road serving simple Thai favorites. If there is one thing that sets Mee Thai apart from other Thai restaurants in the area, it’s that it specifies that it offers the cuisine of the Isan region of Thailand, or Esan, as they spell it here. Frankly, I didn’t spot anything on the menu that wouldn’t be available at other Thai restaurants. And it would have been a good opportunity for a restaurant specializing in Isan cuisine to offer a current local favorite — sticky rice is a staple of that region. That dish is not on the menu.

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