Adevotion to vibrancy and balance courses through the cuisine of Thailand, where tastes lean sharply toward the incendiary and where nearly every savory dish strives for the tricky-to-accomplish harmony between salty, sweet, spicy and sour. Also key to Thai dining is the quest for the perfect bite—judiciously topping each bit of rice with the perfect combination of ingredients, toppings and dips.
Vocal fans of this fairly priced, nondescript favorite in Little Italy praise its chicken gang ped (red curry with coconut milk; $12) and pad thai with chicken and shrimp ($14). It even gets some shout-outs for its mock-meat vegetarian specialties.
104 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-8555 • website
The steady hands of chefs Sonya Supeang and Patty Sangmee whip up such surprises as shrimp and avocado in spring roll shell ($7.95), marinated and grilled beef ribs with spicy dipping sauce ($11.95), and curried soft-shell crab ($17.95).
266 S. DuPont Hwy., Dover, 736-1606 • website
Chef Wit Milburn adds a touch of his effervescent personality to all he does, including this gem at Booth’s Corner Farmers Market. The menu is limited, but with unfettered style. Don’t miss the sister take-out shop, Jeenwong’s Thai Cuisine at Riverfront Market, or the Kapow food trucks, specialists in Hawaiian-Korean riffs.
1362 Naamans Creek Road, Garnet Valley, Pa., 521-4710 • website
At this just-off-the-main-drag destination, up-then-down reviews land squarely on the sentiment that it’s the best Thai around. The buzz: Check out the Ocean Side fried rice with crabmeat and shrimp.
10 First St., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3348
Prepare for long waits at this mall vendor, where good prices and fresh-wokked dishes elevate it beyond food-court standards. The buzz: Pad thai with chicken and shrimp.
132 Christiana Mall, 737-1444
Asian-food addicts detest restaurants that dumb down to Western tastes. Soybean sympathizes. It loads the menu with authentic classics such as Gang Ped Yang (duck red curry, $19) and Pla Lard Prik (whole battered fish with chili sauce, $19). The buzz: Firebreathers should speak two magic words when ordering: Thai hot.
4702 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 636-0800 • website
There’s clearly some family love infusing the food and feel of this dependable gem, where wise diners veer toward the chef’s suggestions, which include crispy honey-roasted duck with three-flavor sauce and crispy basil ($15.95) or the duck curry with tomato and pineapple ($15.95).
287 Christiana Road, New Castle, 322-1306 • website
Waterfront dining and live music help make this a favorite for stylish classics from central and northeastern Thailand. Don’t be deterred from lesser-known treats such as wings sautéed in chili sauce ($10), som tom green papaya salad ($9.50) and larp kai ($11), a spicy-tart ground chicken salad on lettuce.
936 Justison St., Wilmington, 656-1706 • website