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Smitten Bai a Kitchen Thai

What I Ate: Tom Yum Chicken Soup, Chicken Coconuts Soup, Spring Roll, Shrimp Chips, Thai Tea

If you’re a little hesitant entering Thai Kitchen because it looks too much like a used car lot, I’m here to tell you, rest easy. There will be no sales team stumbling toward your approaching vehicle (#BobsLeg) looking to entice fresh meat with zero down, there will be no desperate, rumpled new sales guy sweating when he doesn’t know the answers to your questions, and finally, sadly, there will be no Reagor-esque lot manager ready to take a sizable chunk of your income for the next 60 months on power of his pearly-whites and maestro-like hand-talking alone. However, there will be great thai food.

Thai Kitchen Lubbock

Thai Kitchen is Clean, Like Really Clean

Thai Kitchen may be the cleanest Thai restaurant to ever repurpose an old car lot. It’s a really impressive type of clean, too. It’s the type of clean you’d expect at a minor medical facility or in the admin offices of America’s next, up-and-coming cult. I can imagine over-zealous crews descending upon every square inch at closing time, toothbrush and Comet in hand, scouring away grime as a part of their sanctification. It’s really clean, and it’s really well lit.

It’s a True Southeast Asian Experience

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You will think you’ve entered a rainforest.

Imagine if Lubbock’s hot and sweaty Bangkok Thai had wallpaper like this. You’d actually feel like you were in Thailand dining next to the majestic Chao Phraya River, uncomfortably glistening in the jungle humidity, wondering why you had just patted the sweat from your brow with the same napkin you dotted with chili paste minutes ago. Luckily you won’t experience that because Thai Kitchen has a climate-controlled dining room. Fancy for thai places around here, I know (*disclaimer, I’ve only been to three).

Rule 1: Never Start a Meal with Thai Tea

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I’m saying that to myself more than anything. For some reason, I keep ordering these thinking they’re hot. They’re not. They’re always iced and they’re always sweeter than your wife when she really needs you to do something but she knows you’re in that danger-zone where you’re like one flat tire away from tumbling over the edge of sanity. I can’t handle that much sweetness, but you can’t blame ’em for trying. For the record, Thai Tea is a really strong brewed tea, iced, with sweetened condensed milk poured over the top. Thai coffee is basically the same. However, the bitterness of the strong brewed coffee can hold its own against the milk a little better. If you’re diabetic, don’t even think about it. It’ll be over for you.

Shrimp Chips & Spring Rolls

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Spring Rolls & Hoisin Sauce: Mint Leaves, Shrimp, Chicken, Lettuce, and Vermicelli Rice

I’ve never had a Shrimp Chip before. They look like they have the consistency of a rice cake, but they’re actually harder. Think crunchy, not crisp. And definitely shrimpy. You basically get all the shrimp’s fishiness and none of it’s buttery, sweetness. Queso could save the shrimp chip.

Boss Broths: Tom Yum Soup & Chicken Coconuts Soup

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Tom Yum Chicken Soup: Mushroom, Tomatoes, Onions, Cilantro, Galangal (ginger-ish), Kaffir Leaf, Lime Juice

The broths are insane. If Thai drug-smugglers from Phuket Province ever captured me to torture because of my steadfast message of Truth and gave me a choice in my slow, painful death I’d choose Tom Yum Chicken Soup. Because, Phuket, it’s that delicious. I’d just get a bag of it on drip right into my brachial artery. I’d get even get it “Thai hot” if I needed to up the ante for their twisted enjoyment. I don’t think anyone has ever gone out like that, and I’d be honored.

The Chicken Coconuts Soup is just as good. These broths have a real lightness about them. They’re texturally thin. They’re just about as delicate and fine as a white wine. Even orange juice seems more dense. The beautiful thing about the broths is their complexity. The flavors are symphonic and the aromas recall a bouquet of everything you’ve ever wanted to stick in your mouth. The flavors tag team your palette, then become elusive and slink back into the background, almost like a band of roving car burglars who’d steal your CDs and cologne then sprint off into Ave J’s alley behind Thai Kitchen off 23rd. It’s like this: just as you begin to notice the lemon grass it sort of falls back into the ginger or mushroom and back and forth so you don’t know where one starts and the other stops.

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Wonton Soup looking simple, light, and fresh to def.

The Service Started Out Strong

At 11 am, the service crew was quick and attentive. But as the room started filling up, things started falling between the cracks. Initially, the food came out quick and hot… for all but one member of our table. He tried making concerned eyes at every member of the staff when they passed by. Let this be a lesson, concerned eyes don’t work at Thai Kitchen. Either that or his where-is-my-food-eyes just looked like he was keeping tabs on the restroom situation. Plotting for the quickest route or something. They made no apology for forgetting to bring his food, even though half the table was finished eating when it arrived. I think it was staged, because I got hungry all over again when the steaming hot and colorful dish arrived.

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Go eat this food as quickly as you can. If you’re looking for a car lot you won’t find it there. What you will find is one bitchin’ Kitchen with soups worth writing home about.

Given the chance, I’d eat Thai Kitchen…. 5 of 7 days per week.

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