Curiocity: King And I, The Search For Thai
I’ve recently developed a somewhat obsession with the Thai restaurant not far from my apartment building. King and I Thai has quickly become my go-to not-cooking-tonight meal. It’s highly delicious and yet, uber convenient and oh-so addictive.
Located in a slightly random spot — its home is in the basement of an apartment building, with a concrete maze for an entrance — King and I Thai has been preparing, experimenting with and nailing Thai flavors for nearly 30 years.
I was first introduced to this fine establishment after having a massive Thai craving that I just couldn’t seem to satisfy. I tried a few local spots — a few corporate chains, bad idea — and still, I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.
Not blaming the few Thai restaurants that I indulged in, but my taste buds were searching for a bit more flavor, a higher level of taste. Believe it or not, but one of the things I miss most dearly from my time living in Green Bay was this fantastic Thai restaurant that I would often frequent.
In fact, some of my favorite nights in Green Bay included take out from Bangkok Thai, sweat pants and an all-night lounge fest. I don’t know what it was about that restaurant, but through its humble atmosphere and somehow-never-busy dining room, it was completely authentic and absolutely perfect.
And is definitely to blame for my high standards for Thai cuisine.
For me, it’s all in the sauce. It’s gotta be spicy, but not too spicy with tons of flavor, a savory note and can never be too dry. And so far, King and I Thai has mastered all of these requirements.
Their House Pad Thai, either with a choice of meat, or deliciously vegetarian, is classic and traditional, but when ordered with extra spices, it cranks up the volume and hits the bulls eye.
The portions are definitely made for sharing — learned that the hard way the first time — and the more the merrier, since there’s a ton of great dishes to try and family style servings allow for a variety of tastings.
The Spicy Holy Basil Fried Rice is some of the best I’ve had. Starting with a classic fried rice, King and I tosses in Thai holy basil with garlic and chilies to amplify the flavor and give you a serious kick in the mouth. It’s a bit spicy, but pairs very well with the classic Pad Thai.
The Sriracha Fried Rice is also one not to miss. It seems simple enough — it’s just basic fried rice seasoned with the classic Thai red chili sauce but there’s gotta be something else going on in this dish that takes it from boring to beyond scrumptious.
If you’re looking to ditch the spice and bring on the sweet, try the Pineapple Fried Rice, which is like a sweet and sour dish in the form of fried rice — the flavors blend well together and it’s not too pineappley, if that’s not your thing. (And yes, I just turned pineapple into an adjective.)
While I’m more prone to the noodle and rice dishes, I’ve also heard great things about King and I’s hot and spicy dishes. Particularly, I have friends that swear by the Holy Basil Sauce dish — with beef or calamari — or the Garlic and Thai Chili Sauce dish, with your choice of shrimp or calamari.
The Garlic Sauce stir-fry and Black Pepper Garlic Pork are also supposed to be very tasty, if you’re looking for more of a savory dish.
Regardless of what you order, I don’t think you can go wrong. I haven’t so far and continue to be anxious for the next order. And what makes that next order even more tempting/dangerous is the fact that King and I offers fast, convenient take out — which really doesn’t help my cooking ambition.
As much as I love King and I — and I do — I still feel like there are Thai restaurants out there that I need to try. The question is, where do I find them? Anyone have recommendations on where you like to go to get your Thai on?
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.