Have the Range: A spread of street eats might include spicy salads, skewers, and what they call “one plate wonders.” Kevin Marple

Restaurant Review

Too Thai Makes the Search for Street-Food Flavors Simple

In a Carrollton strip mall, you'll find food straight out of a bustling Thai market.

My leverage was larb. I have a friend who loves Thai food’s ballet of rich and sour flavors as much as I do, the way it dances on the palate. And at the first mention of the flurry of tender minced chicken, toasted rice flour, and lime, he is in.

Too Thai Street Eats surfaced in a Carrollton strip mall that was already a destination for the Taiwanese 85°C Bakery Cafe and Kula Revolving Sushi, and where new, enticing spots seemed to pop up every other minute last year. At Too Thai, owner Kunya Chaiwasun—who also owns Best Thai Signature and Boba Tea and Treats—wanted to evoke the food of her native Bangkok. You can almost hear the clanging of pushcarts and smell the street hawkers’ caroming flavors.

“Not anything we can get elsewhere,” you might tell your server. Though that’s easy: the menu itself reads like a market with many stalls, and it’s tempting to order enough plates to make the table as colorful as the vintage enamelware that will hold many things. There is moo ping to start, the pork skewers marinated in coconut milk, lemongrass, palm sugar, and garlic—sticky and mahogany, and better than the chicken satay. They prime your palate for the bold flavors that come next.

Chief among ethereal fried things is the amazing hoi tod, a rice-flour crêpe, like a rugged-looking fritter, pocked with fat mussels and eggs that form a stratosphere of yellow and white amid the airy, crackly pockets. It arrives resting on a bed of bean sprouts. This—this you won’t find elsewhere.

The range is over-whelming. Papaya salad comes three ways, including one with pounded crab and another with salted egg yolk.

For those who explore, a trove of noodles and soupy dishes proves their brilliance as street food. Traditional boat noodles are buoyed by bean sprouts in a clear broth redolent of cinnamon and basil. In Khao soi, a coconut chicken curry noodle dish from northern Vietnam, whole chicken drumsticks are left to commune with slithery egg noodles in a sauce like goldenrod-colored velvet under a thatch of the same noodles, but fried. It’s an arresting and deeply soul-soothing dish that can sometimes be too sweet. Not here.

And the truly great, street hawker-style Sukhothai noodles—a bowl of mild broth fragrant with cilantro—holds a tumult of ground pork, crunchy long beans, and hard-cooked egg, layered with buttery grilled peanuts and thinly sliced barbecued pork, pink-rimmed and inviting, meant for plucking up before you dive in. I could eat these again and again. Until recently, the only place you could get such fare was the series of stalls that open on Sundays behind The Buddhist Center of Dallas.

Not everything is thrilling, though the colors and textures always are. Their take on the iconic fried dried beef was forgettable. Dishes could sometimes use more pungency, lime, or aromatics. And there was the unsettling incident of the undercooked pork meatball (louk chin ping).

But the range itself is overwhelming. Papaya salad comes three ways, including one briny with pounded crab and another lacing the tender, jade-colored shreds with salted egg yolk.

One evening we had to rush off before dessert. And so that night we had no roti: flaky, buttery layers coiled on the griddle, filled with slightly caramelized coins of banana and a glorious layer of egg that adds a little softness, like a cloud. Drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, it’s heaven. As is the dish of coconut ice cream loaded with palm seeds (in texture like lychees in syrup), chopped peanuts, and ribbons of sweetened condensed milk, mounded over sticky rice.

Too Thai’s boxy walls and harsh lighting are reminiscent of a food court, which they have tried to warm up with colorful pennants and a tuk-tuk cut-out meant for photo-taking. This food, crossed with the decor at CrushCraft, would be a dream. Meanwhile, on any given evening it’s easy to feel you’ve made out like kings. Though if you skipped the roti, you’ve done it all wrong. Return and take it again from the top.

Comments