Sirichalerm Svastivadhana – also known by his nickname McDang – is a celebrity chef in his native Thailand. In his book “The Principles of Thai Cookery,” he describes the country’s cuisine as emphasizing a few primary components, namely texture, aroma, color, overall flavor interaction and a certain attention to detail. It’s perhaps those same values that have led many Boulder culinary gradates to start their own Thai kitchens all across the city. Want proof? Here are just some of the restaurants currently flying the Thai flag over Boulder:
1. Aloy Thai Cuisine: For years, residents of Boulder enjoy spring rolls and Nam Tok salads at Chy Thai. Though the restaurant has more recently changed its name to Aloy Thai, chef and staff claim nothing else has changed about the Boulder staple. Perhaps the biggest appeal of Aloy is the wok, where chefs fry up beef, shrimp, pork and tofu with add-ins like onions, garlic, fresh vegetables, Thai basil, bamboo shoots and housemade stir sauce. Aloy also is home to a number of curries, like traditional red and green, and Panang, which features authentic Thai coconut. And given that Thai food is especially health conscious, no visit would be complete without ordering the Tom Kha Gai, a medley of chicken soup, lemon grass, chicken and mushrooms.
2. Buddha Thai Cafe: As mentioned, many Thai recipes are noted for being health conscious. Not only do they feature many herbs and spices that have lower fat or sugar contents, but many Thai chefs also believe that recipes can cure certain ailments. Regardless, Buddha Cafe is another Boulder spot where Thai chef’s simple approach to food is fostered onward. The restaurant’s biggest draw is inevitably its list of curries, which includes, green, red, yellow, massamon and a signature Jungle Curry, which features Thai fish sauce and roasted red curry. Buddha also has a larger selection of seafood, including pad thai with mussels or squid, Rard Nah – a fried noodle dish served primarily with shrimp – and a number of noodle bowls made with scallops. Round out your meal with authentic Thai beverages, like sweet lemon grass tea or a glass of Singha beer.
3. Khow Thai Cafe: No discussion of Boulder-based Thai food would be complete without mentioning Khow Thai Cafe. Between 2003 and 2015, the eatery won Boulder Weekly’s award for “Best Thai Restaurant” a staggering 13 times. And with good reason, because Khow Thai has a seriously diverse menu of Thai food. On the lunch menu, standouts include Pad Khing – made with fresh ginger, mushrooms and carrots – a papaya salad, several noodle bowls with chili and mixed vegetables, rice bowls with Sriracha and several varieties of curry. For dinner, meanwhile, stir fries are king, with the mix of noodles and bell peppers cooked with either fish, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork or tofu. Or, try Khow specialties like duck curry or Prik Pow Seafood, a mix of fish, shrimp and scallions served with zucchini and bell peppers.
4. Thai Kitchen: For some 13-plus years, the Thai Kitchen wasn’t officially in Boulder proper, and instead was simply located in Boulder County. More recently, though, the restaurant moved shop to a location just outside the Ute Creek Golf Course. Even with the change in scenery, though, the kitchen remains just as authentic as ever. In addition to traditional curry like green and yellow, the kitchen also serves Kang Pa, a spicier curry made with mushroom, onion and green beans. There are also a number of noodle bowls, like Pad Thai, Pad See-Ewe – steamed rice with eggs and broccoli – and Pad Kee Mow. However, the real highlight is the collection of specialties, like the stir-fried chicken dish Satue kai or salmon teriyaki with cabbage and onions.