Sunday, March 20, 2011
563 East Thompson Lane
It’s a move down Thompson Lane for Thai Star owner Keo Douangtavanh and family. The old location was tucked away from traffic and this new one is hard to miss on the Thompson Lane strip. A bold red sign announces the spot. Clearly road frontage is a priority.
It’s a clean, utilitarian dining room with tall ceilings and room to grow. They serve up a little, complimentary lettuce salad with the meal and on one day the sesame based dressing works and on another visit it’s a bit weak. Tom Kha soup is sprinkled with fresh Thai basil, which provides a little zing to accent the mellow coconut milk broth. Thick slices of onion, bell peppers and mushrooms have snap and the chicken is tender. Tom Yum, the spicy and sour Thai classic, is also helped by careful chicken and veggie cooking. Red curry is served in a large bowl. The broth has a satisfying, if restrained, flavor and a subtle background heat. Pork, beef and shrimp are cooked well and once again the veggies are done justice. Malachi’s Steak Delight is cubed filet cooked in a light soy based sauce. It’s reasonably tender and flavorful, helped along by bits of mushroom and what tastes to be cooked ginger.
You’ll find a few Vietnamese dishes here as well, including pho. Thai Star is also one of the better dining options in town for the vegetarian.
Veggie Eater: Kudos to the folks at Thai Star for offering a tofu version of almost every dish. It’s a simple nod to the veggie eaters of Nashville. I love noodles and opted for the Pad Kee Mau on the first visit. This dish has stir fried, chewy and wide rice noodles served with rapini, onions, basil, and tofu with a mild spiciness. On my second visit, I opted for the yellow curry with tofu. It had diced pineapple, basil, onions, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms tossed in a silky coconut curry. Unfortunately, I had the bonus ingredient of a small piece of paper towel included with my curry. This seems a little odd here, as the restaurant is very clean and staff exceptionally attentive. Another oddity is the light fixtures which still sport white Westinghouse tags. Is this a status symbol that I’m not aware of? In any case, I had plenty of food for left over lunches on both visits. Somewhat uncharacteristically for Thai food, the menu does not mention heat options, nor does the wait staff ask about personal spiciness preferences.
Meat Eater: Service is friendly and efficient. Sometimes they appeared a bit understaffed out in the dining room, but the ladies working the room hustle to keep up. They have a patio that that is perched out on busy Thompson Lane looking at the train yard. While it’s not open yet, they appear to be prepping to do so.
Thai Star is a good bet for a positive Thai experience. We paid $33 with tax and tip on one lunch visit and $29 on another lunch visit.