There are a million Thai restaurants in and around Portland, or so it seems. So when you're in the mood for Thai, how do you choose?
Sure, many of us have our favorites, even if it means our choice is simply the one closest to us. Well, it's my opinion that whether you live near Multnomah Village or have to travel to get there, Thai Herbs at 7779 S.W. Capitol Highway is a standout.
For one thing, there's the atmosphere. I don't know what the building housed before Thai Herbs moved in about 11 years ago. I'm going to guess, due to the rustic decor — some of which has obviously been preserved from its former incarnation — that it was an Austrian restaurant or a Swiss pancake haus, due to the decidedly alpine feel.
Yet I appreciate the obviously reclaimed wood that make up the walls and floor, the burlap sacks under the glass table tops, the copper tea pots and other bric-a-brac on the shelves, plus some antique photographs of Thailand and its people. It's all kind of mixed in, but makes for a cozy and charming ambiance. And when the weather is nice, wooden tables on the upper and lower front decks give you a sweet view beyond the village to forested hills toward the south.
However, what really matters (to me at least) is the food. I have found Thai Herbs' take on standard dishes fresh and flavorful, with the perfect amount of spice. And of course, all the usual ones are there: the curries, the pads, the stir-fries, the satays, the soups, the salads and the wontons.
Yet it is the Signature Dishes that really delight. I'm a big fan of the Lemongrass Chicken, which is a grilled chicken breast served with steamed veggies and topped with a peanut sauce. It is so refreshing and citrusy, while also feeling like a really healthy choice. My husband is a sucker for the Orange Chicken, which is a little more decadent in that the chunks of chicken are battered, deep fried and coated with Thai Herbs' "special tangy fresh orange sauce." I have to admit, it is scrumptious.
I have also really enjoyed a couple of the daily specials when they're available, such as the Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, which is usually seasonal, and the Crab Fried Rice — though fluffy and light as air, it's a heaping portion of deliciousness.
As a matter of fact, there's so much to choose from, between the standard dishes on the menu and the daily specials, that I don't think I would ever get tired of the food here.
Thai Herbs is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays for lunch, 4:30-9 p.m. for dinner and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. They do offer some pretty sensational looking lunch specials during the week, starting at about $7 each.
Oh, and did I mention you can get an alcoholic beverage beyond just wine and beer? One of my dining companions the other day had a "Naughty Strawberry Lemonade," and was ever-so-pleased with it.
I cannot go without mentioning the staff at Thai Herbs. In a word, they are lovely. Dining here is relaxed, the food arrives promptly, the prices are super reasonable, and you will feel well taken care of.
So, next time you're noodling around about where to eat, or which Thai joint to choose, don't hesitate: make it Thai Herbs.
Rating: Extraordinarily Sincere!
Georgina Young-Ellis moved to Multnomah from Queens, N.Y., in 2015. She explores the world outside of big-box chain stores to find local businesses intent on customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience. To read more about her experiences at Portland-area shops, visit Searching4Sincerity.com.