Located right next to a Five Guys burger restaurant, Thai Tanium has fierce competition. Many casual passersby might miss this gem of a restaurant. However, those who do notice Thai Tanium are in for a treat.
For obvious reasons, Thai Tanium is much more aesthetically appeasing than its fast-food neighbor. The walls are painted in light hues of orange; there are dim orange lights hanging from the ceiling, which is painted black. In addition, photos of fruits falling in water and portraits line the walls. The colors of the restaurant simply work harmoniously to create a casual, yet trendy, atmosphere.
Upon entry, I was greeted by a server who promptly seated me — one of the benefits of eating at local restaurants is that they are usually not packed during opening hours; I went at noon. The table was very clean and the silverware was pretty.
Its menu is fairly expansive, ranging from meat entrées to noodles. Thai Tanium also has an exclusive, yet small, vegetarian menu. The vegetarian menu includes tofu dishes and eggplant dishes.
Like most restaurants, Thai Tanium includes icons next to item names to indicate the level of spiciness of a dish. What caught my eye was the fact that only a single dish had the highest number of icons, three. The Nua Ka Ting dish, reigning in spiciness on the menu, claims to be able to “bite your tongue off.” The dish was also categorized as a Chef’s Special, so I took up the dare and ordered it. My dad ordered the red curry with pork.
When the dishes came, I was attracted towards the plating of the Nua Ka Ting dish. The tomatoes acted as a base for a mountain load of beef. The Thai garlic chili sauce covered the meat thoroughly. Deep-fried basil leaves garnished the top and added a nice contrast to the fiery colors of the meat. On the other hand, the red curry dish was plain and ordinary. In fact, the soup was dripping from the side.
Appearances aside, both dishes had complex flavors, with contrasting spiciness and sweetness. For the Nua Ka Ting dish, the fried basil leaves on top were very delicate and crunchy, sort of like the edges of a fried egg that are minutely thin. The Thai chili garlic sauce was spicy, as previously claimed and stated. However, the sauce was no where near the level of spiciness I had expected it to be at. Compared to buffalo wings and Sriracha sauce, another Asian chili sauce found in grocery stores, the sauce used in the Nua Ka Ting dish was mild. Admitedlly, the spiciness eventually built up and impeded my progress in devouring the dish — which is not nescessarily a bad thing because I got to enjoy the dish for a longer time. The beef slices were not very tender, but that did not negatively affect the dish, in my opinion. The tomatoes on the bottom were very fresh. They were so fresh that they were cold despite the hot beef on the top. As for the health aspects of this dish, the sauce was not very oily and the meat was trimmed of any fats. The tomatoes were a nice healthy touch; although, the basil would be healthier if they were served raw.
I did not taste the red curry dish much, but I did notice that the dish had a very unique taste too it. Take my comment with a grain of salt because my culinary palate for curry is not fine-tuned. However, I do not recommend this dish when there are many other dishes of higher merit than this one.
657 Center Point Way
Gaithersburg, MD 20878