Looking to step up your usual noodle game? Thai food is full of robust, spicy (in fact, really spicy, if you prefer), and unique flavors, like coconut, lime, and peanut. No need to travel to Thailand, or even New York City for that matter. There are many delicious and top-notch Thai restaurants right here in North Jersey. We've rounded up a few of our favorites.
Three words: Mama's Homestyle Cooking. That's this cozy (yes, there are pillows on the banquettes) Belleville eatery's tagline, and boy, is it accurate. Mama is always at the restaurant, moving from table to table to check in how you're enjoying the meal she so expertly prepared for you. Trust us when we say the food is divine, but if you really need some proof, peep the New York Times review.
The perfect meal: Mama's Love Nest Veggie Tacos (crispy wonton-esque taco shells filled with beans, cilantro, onions, ginger and lemon juide), followed by the Crispy Basil Duck or Crispy Volcano Chicken (tamarind chili sauce, yum).
The Thai Elephant
You might be familiar with the popular Thai food truck, Aroy-D ("very yumm" in Thai) from Hoboken. The Verona outpost is tucked away inside a strip mall on a side street, but is so worth the visit, if not for the free Thai lesson you'll get from the friendly waitstaff. Spice levels are "Dare", "Double Dare", and our favorite, "Triple Dog Dare", complete with a warning that "Thai level spice" is used. If you're a spicy-food fan, spring for the Triple.
The perfect meal: Ka Nom Jeeb (crab, shrimp, chicken, and pork in a wrap—how can you go wrong?), followed by Crab Fried Rice.
Pimaan won Best of Bergen's Best Thai Restaurant award four years in a row, and has been reviewed by the New York Times. Need we say more? If you're looking for a healthier option, this spot is for you, as it prides itself on using less oil and fresh herbs in its recipes.
The perfect meal: Crabmeat Pancake, followed by the very aptly named Squid in Love (because we're in love: tender sautéed squid, chicken, and shrimp with peppers and scallions in a bright chili sauce).
We'll go ahead and say it: Morris Thai has the best Pad Thai in the area. It just might be the ratio of crushed peanuts (with the option to load on more from the little glass jars on the table) to chili to noodle that puts it over the edge.
The perfect meal: Fried Tofu or Tom Yum Gai soup, followed by—you guessed it—Pad Thai. Finish it all off with lychee in syrup "on the rocks".
Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine
While Penang is primarily a Malaysian restaurant and should be revered as such, with it's delicious specialties like Roti Canai (a crispy pancake to dip in chicken curry) and Beef Rendang (onion, lemongrass, chili, and curry paste), its Thai classics are too good to not comment on. While noshing, enjoy the full bar and fancy cocktail menu. We like the "Fire Breathing Dragon"—Thai flavors in a glass—"chili-lime infused vodka mixed with mango nectar and mango infused vodka".
The perfect meal: If you're sticking with the Thai route, the Thai Mango Salad, followed by Thai Basil Chicken.