Indianapolis – Thai Orchid
Thai Orchid, located at 86th St. and I-69, is just north of my office. For whatever reason, it took me a long time to try this place. I kept driving past and thinking “I should try that place sometime”. The day I finally took the plunge (about two years ago) I was not sure what I would be in for. I’ve been there countless times since and thought it was time for a review.
The restaurant is right next to the Phantom Fireworks mega-store and seats about 60. There’s a cash register/bar in the back and the overall decor is nice. Wait staff are always very attentive and always helpful with questions you might have about a dish.
I always assumed Thai food would be similar to Chinese food. I could not have been more wrong. Being a big fan of noodle dishes the Pad Thai was the only way to go for my first Thai dish.
When my server asked “how hot?” (mild, medium, medium hot, hot, extra hot, and Thai hot) and not knowing the heat scale I decided to opt for “medium”. It turned out to be the right choice for a Thai novice. I’m now requesting medium-hot and will someday be adventurous and attempt the hot. I can’t ever see me requesting “Thai-hot”. That sounds like a death wish to me!
If you’ve never had Pad Thai here’s what you’re missing… Tender rice noodles and bean sprouts mixed with a somewhat sweet and spicy (you decide the heat level) sauce. Add your favorite protein (shrimp, chicken, pork, tofu) or vegetables then top with scallions, and crushed peanuts. I’m a big fan of the pork and chicken versions.
The flavors are unique and very addictive. I can’t think of another noodle dish that tastes anything like Pad Thai. Of course this just scratches the surface of the Thai menu. There are a lot of items to choose from including many curries and seafood dishes.
The one appetizer always ordered by my family, without exception, is the Golden Bags. Golden Bags are stir-fried ground chicken, carrot, and corn wrapped in a wonton skin. It’s then tied with green onion and lightly deep-fried. They come 6 to an order and have a sweet dipping sauce on the side.
Thai Orchid has a great lunch combo too. You get a coconut based soup, salad, spring roll, wonton and your choice of main course (curry or noodle dish). All of this for $6.99! It’s a great value and a lot of people take advantage of it during the week.
Here’s where I think a lot of “ethnic” restaurants miss the mark. I have NO idea what any of the curries are going to taste like and I’m hesitant to shell out the money to end up getting something I don’t like. I would LOVE to see a sampler/combination option that allows you to taste the various dishes (or sauces) without having to order one at a time. A lot of Greek places do this and I’ve found things I like and dislike (and I was able to expand my knowledge of Greek cuisine). This may not be possible (or practical) with the cook to order format of a lot of Asian dishes. That’s a lot of pans for a lot of little portions.
After dining at other Thai places on Indy’s north side my family and I have decided Thai Orchid is our favorite. I wouldn’t hesitate recommend it to anyone. If you’ve stayed away from Thai food because you weren’t sure what it was all about (like I did) I think you’ll be in for a nice surprise (like I was). Give it a try and let me know what you think!