Royal Thai, Cool Springs, TN

victoria —  June 2, 2004 — Leave a comment

After an unexpected boon to our financial situation, Keifel decided to take us out to dinner last night. We have been trying to be good as our budget has been penny-pinchingly tight.

Keifel’s choice for our dining pleasure was Royal Thai. It has been voted a Best Dining spot in the Nashville Scene and we wanted to try another Thai place after our somewhat disappointing first Nashville Thai experience. There is a Royal Thai Express off Church Street closer to West End in Nashville, but we decided to drive to one of the bigger locations in Cool Springs (and do a little TJMAxx recon).

The outside is mostly non-descript, stripmall store front. There is a small patio to the side. As I have this weird thing about “outdoor dining” that is only a view of a parking lot, we opted for indoor dining.

The interior was a nice surprise. Very clean modern lines give it an open Asian feel without being austere. The bar is neatly arranged on black laquer shelving. All of the seating is booths with glass topped partitions. It feels both private and open. It was difficult to really gauge the lighting as we were there fairly early and natural light was still pouring through the store front windows. At night I imagine it is more romantic because of the dark wood and warm colors.

The host seated us in the open section toward the kitchens. Our server came for our drink order and disappeared for a bit. It was slow, so I think he might have been doing prep as well as waiting on us early birds.

We ordered a starter soup, a mushroom and coconut broth with finely shaved chicken. I honestly can’t remember the name and I hate to butcher it. It came to the table in small handled bowls on soup plates. It was the perfect temperature and light enough for a warm early summer evening. Everything about it was right. The coconut broth had just enough heat and the mushrooms perfumed it without overwhelming the chicken. It is definitely something I would order again.

From the extensive entree selections, I ordered the chicken pa-naeng (do we see a pattern here?) and Keifel opted for the Thai Green Curry with chicken.

Our server brought two plates with molded scoops of slightly sticky rice and bowls of our curries. I had ordered mine medium heat, Keifel chose hot. Though native Thai is an option, he wanted to see if the “hot” would actually be hot given his Caribbean taste for things spicy and the general blandness of ethnic foods presented in the other local eateries we’ve tried.

The pa-naeng was creamy and nutty with thinly sliced chicken and red and green peppers. The peppers were a little over done and the dish didn’t have that usual punch of basil or cilantro that I really like. Keifel’s curry was hot without being mouth searing and tasting only of peppers. It also had this wonderful light, citrus-y note from the lemon grass that was especially nice. I liked his dish better than mine, despite my pa-nang (pa-naeng) devotion, and will probably order that if we go back.

My only major complaints were that the service was a bit slow and my water glass was empty longer than it was full. The pa-naeng was good but not close to the best I’ve had. The green curry was excellent though and I would heartily recommend it.

I had a bit of my entree left over and asked for a to go box. I love warmed over pa-nang for breakfast and I have a big bouquet of cilantro in the fridge to ratchet it up a bit. I, of course, left it on the table and didn’t realize until we were walking back to the car after the disappointing TJMaxx recon. No curry breakfast for me.



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