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Thai'd you over

Thai & Sushi East Atlanta mingle Asian eats with neighborly vibes

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Where do you go for dinner with friends when they're the proud parents of a curious 3-month-old boy? Do you opt for patio dining, allowing for a quick jaunt around the block should crying ensue? Or do you resign yourself to a family-friendly chow house that serves huge, dispiriting portions? Sometimes the places you'd least expect to fit the bill turn out to be just what the pediatrician ordered.

Lively Thai & Sushi East Atlanta feels like a bar with its dark, evocative lighting, continually packed space and young bohemian crowd. Yet it's not so loud or rowdy that you'd feel guilty having your infant son there. Exposed brick walls and stained concrete floors give a hip, city-side feel to this Thai eatery, and servers are gracious and friendly.

Holla for a dolla: On Sunday and Monday nights you can begin your meal with a variety of $1 and $2 sushi rolls. As you would expect of food that costs little more than a can of Coke, they aren't anything spectacular. But the spicy tuna, eel, and yellowtail rolls we try are perfectly passable nibbles that make for a healthy alternative to chili fries as bar food, and they tide us over while we decide on appetizers and entrees.

Spring rolls ($3) are thoroughly bland, stuffed with uninteresting cabbage and carrot, though they do provide crunchy contrast to ice-cold beer. Fried calamari ($7) are gobbled up like popcorn, crispy-coated and toothy.

No hurry for the curry: The menu here reads like Thai 101, including Americanized favorites of coconut chicken soup and pad Thai. Succulent chunks of chicken are bathed in sweet but overly mild masaman curry ($9). Like the curry, the beef salad ($7) is well prepared, but lacks sparkle and pizzazz. The slices of tender beef sizzle with a moderate chili burn, but the overall flavor is simple and monotonous.

Burnin' and lootin': I out-order the rest of the table with mouth-searing drunken noodles ($9). The dish is dark, rich and satisfying, chock-a-block with slices of white meat chicken, a tangle of caramelized onions and sweet, pungent peppers. Plenty of chili lends a thrilling burn, and basil contributes an ethereal anise bite. My tablemates swoop onto my plate, whisking away forkfuls of noodles and chicken.

You'll be hard-pressed to find exquisite, native preparations or earth-shaking cuisine at Thai & Sushi East Atlanta, but the restaurant doesn't pretend to promise those things, either. It's just a great neighborhood spot where beer and conversation flow and old friends can share a meal. Even with a baby in tow.

cynthia.wong@creativeloafing.com

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