Located on Alma and Parker, Taste of Thai isn’t in one of Plano’s trendy spots; the hottest spot nearby is probably the Costco a block away. Taste of Thai nestles into a strip mall next to a Queen’s Beauty Supply, a locksmith, and an animal clinic. You’d never think it was special from the outside.
But inside the doors waits a warm interior painted in cool blue tones like the inside of a sapphire, and a single set of double swinging doors separating it from the steaming kitchen, where things are sizzling.
If you’ve been there, then you likely already know the owners, husband and wife team Nina and Michael. Nina is the heart of the kitchen, where she spends most of her time, and it’s extremely likely that Michael will be your waiter. No one knows the expansive menu better than he does, and he’s quick with recommendations. The two of them first opened Taste of Thai in Addison, but they like being in Plano.
While Nina is a peaceful, quiet presence, Michael is a talker; in the pre-COVID-19 days, where one could linger after lunch, nursing a Thai iced tea, he would sometimes linger at our table to talk about everything from how they source ingredients, to his wife’s lyrical and expansive collection of recipes, to the best places to eat in Philadelphia. He’s particularly helpful with identifying and avoiding food allergies. He also might tell you that their beer and wine list is underrated, and help you find a pairing.
These days, while the dining room is open, Taste of Thai is doing much of its business online with delivery apps. They wrap every entree in foil before it goes into a styrofoam container, and if you ask, Michael can provide detailed instructions on reheating everything from tom kha soup to crispy basil fish.
On my first visit, I tried pad Thai; my guest sampled ginger chicken. The lunch portion came with a small bowl of salad zinging of ginger dressing and a cleansing bowl of clear, brothy soup. We ordered easy, uncomplicated dishes found at any Thai restaurant in the metroplex, and still, Taste of Thai managed to produce something special.
The ginger chicken was full of flavor yet light, never overwhelming the taste of the vegetable medley at play. But it was the pad Thai that surprised me. There was a whole additional layer of flavor, and it was a perfect medium spice, dancing on the knife’s edge of too hot, dried red chili bits hidden in every curl of a noodle. Their pad Thai is vibrant, and they have prepared it so fresh that the flavors of fish sauce and tamarind sweetened with palm sugar still bite. Maybe the secret is the quality of the ingredients, or maybe it's the way they’re treated. Somehow Taste of Thai has cracked the code, and offered double the flavor on a same-sized plate.
At this point, I’ve eaten all over the menu. I’ve had Tom Kha soup, coconut milk soup with lemongrass, galangal, fresh mushroom, onion, tomato, and lime juice. I also love Panang curry so hot, it’ll make your nose run. In this cold, winter weather, it’s hard to beat the richness of duck noodle soup, fall-apart tender in a broth that leaves a slight, healthy sheen of oil in the bowl.
But the best compliment I can give is that everyone I’ve introduced to Taste of Thai has remembered—if not the name—the food. One of my out-of-town friends usually wants me to take her back to "the pad Thai place." My mom, who loves a sampler of fried appetizers, will on special occasions suggest we order from "the Thai restaurant on Parker Road, not the close one, the good one."
Taste of Thai is not close to my home; I live within walking distance of three other Thai restaurants. The restaurant opened a couple of years ago, and despite the distance, I’m still coming back. It’s still worth it.
Taste of Thai
- Mon – Tues | Closed
- Wed – Fri | 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 4:30 – 9 p.m.
- Sat – Sun | 12 – 9 p.m.
Where: 3205 Alma Dr. #401, Plano
More: 469.786.0202 | tasteofthaiplano.com