Sometimes, it’s hard to believe how much Charlotte, NC has changed since the days I first went veg. At the time Charlotte was not very diverse, and there were few ethnic restaurants. It was difficult to find a vegetarian meal dining out, let alone a vegan one!
A notable exception was Thai House, a family run business which has now been around for more than 20 years and has locations in South Charlotte, University, Gastonia, and Lake Norman.
I continue to frequent the South Charlotte location (off Highway 51, in Tower Place Shopping Center).
And it continues to remain … excellent.
Service: Service is friendly and efficient. Waiters and waitresses tag-team tables – one may take your drink order, one may take your dinner order, another may bring your dinner. Because of this, service is never slow and my water glass is never empty. Have a question about the food? Servers are also very knowledgeable about ingredients.
Additional Note: I dine out often with my senior dad. At many restaurants, I’ve witnessed servers being impatient or rude to my dad and other older customers. At Thai House, the servers have always treated my dad with courtesy and respect.
Atmosphere: Most Thai restaurants have charming decorations. Thai House has an impressive collection of hand-carved teak wood pieces.
Lunch – At lunchtime, Thai House has an abbreviated menu consisting of several stir-fries, two curries, Pad Thai (of course!) and a few other items. Most items can be made vegetarian. The price includes a bowl of daily soup and a spring roll. Be aware that none of the soups are vegetarian, and request the vegetarian spring roll (the standard one has chicken).
Appetizers: Veg options include steamed Spring Rolls, Knockout Rolls (veggies, tofu, and noodles wrapped in a rice sheet), and Fried Tofu with peanut/chili sauce.
Soups: None of the soups are vegetarian. Disappointing because I really love Thom Ka.
Salad: Ok, I know most of us do not care to eat salads when we dine out, but Thai salads are a little different. You can order a small plate of cucumber and onion, best used as a relish for your food; Som Tum which has papaya, green beans, and ground peanuts; or Thai House Salad, a chopped salad with vegetables, fried tofu, and peanut dressing.
Stir Fries: Most of the stir fries can be made vegetarian (request, here and at any other Thai restaurant, that they not use oyster sauce). I’ve sampled several different stir fries, and they’ve all been good. I do wish they offered a few more varieties, however.
Curries: I’ve had four of the six curries – Red Curry, Panang Curry, Green Curry, and Kang Masaman. All were excellent. Always check to make sure they do not use fish paste – here or any other Thai place you dine. (Tell them you’re allergic, if necessary!)
Noodles and Rice: Of course, Thai House has Pad Thai and Fried Rice. Both come with egg, so be sure to specify no egg, and double-check your order when it comes. (They’ve never made a mistake with my order, but still, here and anywhere else – double-check!)
Spice Level: You choose a spice level of 1-4. I usually choose 3, and sometimes it tastes like a 3 and sometimes it doesn’t. Even when the food is milder than I like, it still tastes very fresh and flavorful (unlike some “Americanized” Thai restaurants which specialize in bland).
Price: Typical for a Thai restaurant, about $11 – $13 for a meatless dinner entree. Vegetarian entrees are priced less than meat entrees, which is how it should be!
Sushi: Thai House also has a sushi menu. I’ve never tried the sushi (and probably never will, since I love Thai House’s curries and stir-fries so much). The menu appears to have the standard veg options – endamame, asparagus roll, cucumber roll, veggie roll.
Dessert: Mango Sticky Rice. You must try this, at least once!
Beverages: Thai House has a wide range of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Be aware that the regular Iced Tea is jasmine tea – delicate and a little flowery, a perfect complement to fiery Thai spices. It is definitely not the strongly brewed, sweet tea you may be accustomed to in the South! Do not confuse this with Thai iced tea, which has cream.