Review: Thai Five Restaurant
Rating: Three forks
Where: 1523 S. Seneca, 316-263-3000
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Type of food: Thai
Smoking: Not allowed
Few things are more rewarding for foodies than discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves great food.
Based on a reader tip, we recently found one — the goofily named but surprisingly delicious Thai Five Restaurant at 1523 S. Seneca.
The restaurant is nondescript. In fact, the sign on the front of the building is so small that it's easy to miss the space in the small strip center it occupies. The interior is stark but warmed by the exotic smells of curry and basil and frying spring rolls.
ON THE MENU: The menu offers an easy-to-navigate list of classic Thai dishes, from pad Thai to basil stir-fry. It also features several appetizers, soups, Thai salads, curries, noodle dishes and fried rice options. A few Chinese-style dishes are tacked on to the end of the menu for less adventuresome diners.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: The only thing we didn't love at Thai Five was — surprisingly — the pad Thai. On two different visits, it was a bit bland, with dry chicken and too-cooked noodles.
The rest of the dishes, though, were surprising and delicious, perfectly cooked and bursting with herby, limey, exotic flavors.
A particular highlight was a grilled beef salad ($7.95 and officially called yum nua yang). It featured thick, medium-rare slices of grilled sirloin that were artfully arranged on a bed of lettuce then tossed with dry chiles, red onions, cilantro, lime juice and mint leaves.
Also Thai-rific was a red curry dish ($7.95), made with shrimp, julienne bamboo shoots and bell peppers and Thai basil, floating in a creamy orange coconut milk and served in an attractive, leaf-shaped bowl. Though the dish could have used a bit more of a curry kick, it was creamy and satisfying.
The basil stir-fry with beef ($6.95) also was good, with tender slices of beef mixed with basil sauce, bell peppers, onions, green onions and basil leaves and served over rice. As part of a lunch combo, it was served with a delectable wonton soup that looked simple but tasted complex.
Thai Five serves those skinny, tiny little egg rolls — $2.95 for a serving of 3 — that pack a lot of flavor in a tiny package. The waiter also recommended a chicken satay appetizer, and although the skewered chicken was a little dry, a sweet peanut sauce and cucumber salad on the side added an interesting touch.
AMBIENCE: Pretty plain. The small dining room features just a few standard-issue tables and chairs (plus sweeping views of the Harry and Seneca QuikTrip). But it's clean and neat.
PRICE RANGE: Thai Five has a simple pricing structure — most dishes are $6.95 or $7.95. Appetizers are mostly $4.95.