- Alex Springer
Those predisposed to explore Salt Lake's Thai restaurants know that there is some serious talent at work in our state. That's not to say that every Thai restaurant brings the literal and metaphorical heat to the table, but there are definitely more good options than bad ones when Thai happens to take the wheel of your craving caravan. I'm so confident in this claim, that I decided to put it to the test by visiting Thai Spoon (6657 S. State, Ste. 1, Murray, 801-590-8085), perhaps one of the only Thai restaurants along the Wasatch Front that I had yet to try. It didn't disappoint.
Thai Spoon has been open for three years, which is pretty impressive considering its location. It's within that commercial limbo of strip malls and laundromats between Fashion Place Mall and Sam's Club at the intersection of State Street and I-215. I don't want to come off as bashing the area—pawn shops and AutoZones are people, too. I bring it up, because it's not the first spot you think of when looking to track down a decent bite to eat.
Despite the location, the establishment's interior has made great use of its limited space. Even though the bustle of State Street was just beyond the window, the urbanity of its location melts away once you enter. Tables are neatly arranged and adorned with wooden spoon centerpieces that are reflected in Thai Spoon's wall art.
It wasn't terribly crowded during my lunchtime visit, though takeout orders and Door Dashers managed to keep the place busy. Usually when I want Thai food, I order massaman curry ($10.98) without even thinking about it, but this experience was about exploration—so I placed a to-go order for when my meal was over.
Like most Thai places, the lunch special is a great way to see what the kitchen can do, and the pictured spicy cashew ($7.98 for lunch; $10.98 for dinner) sounded right up my alley. It's a stir fry of garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms and cashews with Thai Spoon's signature sauce and a choice of protein.
I'm a big fan of any place that has a scale of spiciness—in my experience that means they're not afraid to hurt you. Thai Spoon's spectrum goes from one to five, and I recommend starting with a three if you're a fan of heat. I started there and didn't regret it. One spoonful of dried Thai chiles packs plenty of punch for a lunchtime getaway. It didn't completely ruin me, but it was hot enough for me to know that a five would do the trick if I ever wanted to test it out.
The spicy cashew was exactly what you'd want from a traditional stir fry. The veggies soak up all the umami flavor from the excellently browned and garlicked house sauce, and dumping it in heaps upon pillowy jasmine rice is Thai comfort food at its finest. I think ramping up the heat level was what did the trick here, however. I could see this being slightly on the bland side were I to order it without a dash of smoked chile flavor.
Thai soups have been on my radar as of late—I blame the cold weather—so I also got a single serving of tom kha ($5.98 or $10.98 for a large), a broth of lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime-infused coconut milk served with mushrooms, cabbage and a choice of protein. The lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves combine into a surprisingly potent citrus flavor blend that whacks you hard in the back of the throat if you're not careful. Well-measured sips of this Thai staple are a lovely balancing act between acidic and creamy. Slurping up this soup after having just taken a bite of something spicy can be unexpectedly exhilarating as the capsaicin and citrus tag-team your tongue in a fight that's fun to lose.
My carry-out order of massaman curry was also tasty—hard to go wrong with that mild blend of peanutty curry—and it kept very well as a takeout meal. Based on that experience, I can see why it's a popular destination for phone orders and food delivery vendors. That said, their massaman isn't doing anything that much different than other local Thai joints. It's solid, but the same solid you can get elsewhere.
Although Thai Spoon had some menu items that were merely as good as other similar restaurants, there's enough variation to further diversify our local roster of Thai eateries. When I'm craving Thai food sans curry with a bit of fearless kick, I'm headed to Thai Spoon.
AT A GLANCE