Sometimes I’m very lazy, lazy about driving — actually, it’s more than sometimes, it’s pretty much ALL the time. When I’m craving Thai food I always curse myself when the lack of desire to drive means I won’t be venturing to Siam Taste of Asia or Thai Nakorn. That’s when I hit up Sutha Thai Kitchen!
I’m a Thai food snob! I’ve been to Thailand many many times, I lived with a Thai boyfriend decades ago and it was he who taught me how to cook most of the Thai dishes I make at home these days. It has been a really daunting task living in Orange County trying to find a Thai restaurant which lives up to what my palate is used to, so I rarely eat Thai outside of home.
My friend Melissa of Alosha’s Kitchen first introduced this place to me years ago, and since that fateful day I’ve returned many times. My usual thing to order is the yum neur (Thai beef salad) and I fell in love with it as soon as I put the first morsel of it into my mouth.
The dressing was perfect — right amount of saltiness mixed with the right amount of tartness. I was in heaven! I would come here just to eat this dish alone, but of course, the glutton in me can’t just order a salad and be done with it.
Papaya salad or som tam is decent here, a nice mix of salty and tart and the julienned green papaya is not too wilted so some crunch remains. I don’t usually order this dish but when my friends order it, I won’t say no. It is refreshing and a great start to whet your appetite.
The other thing I like is green chicken curry and when I don’t feel like making it the one here suffices. I’ve had it at other Thai establishments and it’s usually too sweet or too watery, or worse yet, both. Here it is not overly sweet and the sauce is not like liquid. In fact, it’s pretty close to the one I make at home.
Nam Sod is another dish I love but is not something I can feasibly make at home. Apart from Thai Nakorn, this is one I really like. The version here doesn’t have ginger, but the ground pork and crispy rice salad is delicious and I crave the varying flavors and textures you get from each bite — the salty, tart, crispy, chewy.
Known as “drunken” noodles, pad kee mow is a widely popular hangover dish consisting of thick flat rice noodles, a handful of vegetables and meat of your choice. Tofu is another option if you don’t want meat. I like the spiciness of this dish and prefer it over pad Thai any day.
I can’t remember the name of this next dish but it’s the one with green beans and your choice of meat. We chose chicken and it was delicious with a lovely sauce which went perfectly with steamed rice. This leans more towards a Chinese stir-fry and works well when you want to break up some of the spicier dishes.
Another noodle dish I like is the glass noodles, or pad woon sen as it is called in Thai. Generally it is listed as a ‘salad’ but I think it works just as well as a side starch. I prefer the texture of this to the sticky pad Thai — can you tell I’m not a fan of pad Thai?
The restaurant is very small and seats about 15 people, although I’ve never seen it fully packed whether I’ve come for lunch or dinner. Service is what one would expect in Thailand, hospitable, polite and attentive, even though at times, I might have to repeat myself a few times to get my message across, but the lovely man who works there is always patient and accommodating. You can always be sure you’ll always receive a warm friendly welcome whether it’s your first time or if you visit regularly.
Sutha Thai Kitchen
1161 Irvine Blvd
Tustin, CA 92780 (next to the Tustin Lanes)