Elon’s dining services are great, no question. Not many university students have so many options for dining halls, restaurants and great coffee shops. But a steady diet of Pan Geos and Varsity can get old fast, and local dives like Sandy’s and Sidetracks don’t really mix up the menu much. Thankfully, Simply Thai has arrived to enliven Elon’s tired taste buds.
Simply Thai, located right down West Haggard Avenue, features authentic Thai and Laotian food and stupendous sushi with excellent service and great prices. A meal for two featuring entrées, drinks and a shared appetizer was just less than $50 — not bad for a high-class eatery.
Main entrees come with an option of beef, chicken, seafood or tofu as a protein, while some are specifically for beef-eaters. Each entrée comes with a house salad — greens covered in a peanut-coconut dressing. Even though one may not be a huge fan of coconut, the dressing is mild enough for most everyone to enjoy.
The entrées themselves were also delicious without being overly sweetened or overly spicy, as some Thai restaurants tend to do. For many dishes, a desired level of spice can be specified, so leaving the restaurant sweating is still an option.
Simply Thai’s sushi list proves extensive, taking up an entire foldout section of the menu. Some rolls start under $5, but others can be pricey, pushing $15 or $20. Diners get what they pay for, though, as quality sushi can be hard to find in the Elon area.
Sampled dishes included an appetizer of calamari. The calamari was nothing to write home about, being for the most part plain and bland, but it came with a wasabi/chili dipping sauce that really wowed. The servers constantly came back with drink refills and inquired about the taste and flavor.
Two entrees, pad prik — also known as Thai pepper steak — and lad nar — Thailand’s second most popular dish after pad thai, were sampled.
Pad prik is made with chili pepper, garlic, shallots, mint, basil, soy and, of course, the requisite peppers and onions. The flavors melded beautifully in a savory sauce, that brown rice on the side quickly sopped up. A comparable dish might be a Philly cheese steak without the bread or the cheese, and with many more flavors vying for attention. In fact, it’s indescribable. Pad prik just needs to be sampled.
Lad nar is a dish of fried noodles in brown soy gravy over broccoli and mushrooms. The flat rice noodles were earthy and rich while the sauce was very light, a flavor profile that blended very well. Other than the noodles, the dish was fairly plain. Be sure to ask for a little extra heat if you want a better flavor.
What redeemed the lack of exciting flavor were the veggies and seafood. One could tell both the vegetables and the seafood were cooked at the very peak of freshness.
The calm ambience, attentive staff, great pricing and delicious, fresh food cannot be found anywhere else near campus. This unique restaurant, while still in the Elon bubble, will take your mind far, far away from homework, tests and professors and across the ocean to Thailand.
Altogether, Simply Thai is worth a repeat visit. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-3p.m. for lunch and 5 – 10 p.m. for dinner, Monday through Saturday. It is open Sundays from 4 – 9 p.m.
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