For me, it doesn’t get much better than Thai food, fresh meats, seafood and vegetables with the perfect blend of savory, sweet and a spicy kick. Owner and Executive Chef Sydney Bounsavath has her balance seemingly perfected at Thai Pattaya Restaurant.
Located at 833 Memorial Blvd. within a small strip mall near the corner of Medical Center Parkway, the cozy restaurant serves up a variety of appetizers, soups, curries, stir fries, rice and noodles. The menu descriptions are in English and Bounsavath is happy to tailor to your taste buds.
“Whatever the customer wants, I like to customize the food to how they like it,” she said. “Maybe that’s something that separates my restaurant from others.”
If you’ve never experienced Thai food, it may seem intimidating when figuring out what to order, but it’s really not so confusing. Thai Pattaya’s menu is set up where you pick your entrée from the descriptions listed, such as Pad Kra Prao (stir fried fresh Thai basil, onion, carrot, mushroom, green bell pepper and bamboo shoot), then your protein; vegetable or tofu ($7.95), chicken or pork ($8.95), beef or shrimp ($9.95), scallop or squid ($10.95) or seafood combinations ($12.95). Lastly, you pick the heat level you think you can handle, whether mild, medium, hot, very hot or native Thai. After several experimentations, I’ve recently found myself comfortable with the hot level.
Curries are another tasty option, which is your choice of protein simmered in a coconut milk-enhanced broth with assorted vegetables (same respective prices as the entrees). I’m partial to the popular Green Curry, a slightly sweet and spicy yellow-green creation consisting of bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, broccoli and fresh basil. Curries and all entrees are served with a small mound of sticky and chewy steamed jasmine rice.
The most popular Thai dish, Pad Thai, is stir-fried thin noodles in brown sweet and sour sauce with egg, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and green onion. It’s accompanied on the menu by a list of other noodle and fried rice dishes (same prices as the entrées), including the also popular Drunken Noodles, wide rice noodles stir-fried with egg, bamboo shoot, mushroom, bell pepper, crushed garlic, tomato, chili paste and fresh basil with a house basil sauce. Bounsavath has mixed a little Vietnamese cuisine in her menu with Pho, a large-portioned, highly flavorful soup of rice noodles, green onion, cilantro, basil and bean sprouts (chicken $7.95, beef $8.95, meat and seafood combo $9.95).
While you’re listening to the sounds of your food being cooked in the kitchen, mainly steel spatulas hitting against searing hot gas-flamed woks, enjoy one of the many soups, salads and appetizers available. Maybe the exotic person in you aims to try the squid salad, fresh tender squid tossed with chili paste, red onions and lime juice, served on a bed of lettuce ($7.95). Other salads without squid are available too. On a rainy day, I find great comfort in a cup of Tom Kha soup with chicken, a sweet and savory coconut milk broth with lime juice, kaffir leaves, lemongrass and mushroom ($2.95). Appetizers include, among others, egg rolls ($1.99), spring rolls ($3.95), steamed dumplings ($3.95), fried eggplant ($3.95), satay chicken ($5.50) and crab Rangoon ($5.95).
For the high rollers, the restaurant has a list of specialty menu items including Lemongrass Chicken ($12.95), Asparagus Shrimp ($12.95), Tamarind Duck ($15.95) and Panang Salmon ($14.95). For people like me, Thai Pattaya runs a regular daily lunch special from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at $6.95-7.95, which includes an entrée, house soup and an egg roll. Bounsavath also features changing daily and weekly specials, written on a dry erase board near the kitchen, and MTSU students always receive 10 percent off with a student ID. Affordability included, Bounsavath’s intention is to really impress the customer with the overall experience.
“Quality, image, taste, smell and friendliness of the service are the five things we focus on most,” she said. “I want that ‘wow’ from the customer.”
With her creativity, passion for fresh, flavorful food and attention to detail in presentation, Bounsavath truly has a great thing going here. The atmosphere is casual and the service staff is indeed friendly. This restaurant has won my heart and has become a regular go-to for delicious and affordable food. It is with sincerity, I encourage you to try Thai Pattaya this week.