It’s OK to get ‘curried’ away

Columns What's Cooking?

August 17, 2014

Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Fragrant lemongrass, spicy chiles, salty shrimp paste and ginger’s citrusy cousin galangal are essential ingredients when it comes to authentic Thai cooking. Lucky for you, Royal Thai Garden brings those bold and vibrant tastes to the table.

The flavors come together in Red Curry (with various protein options, $9.99 to $10.99). “It’s one of the best curries that we have,” says co-owner Irma Sayavong of the sauce imbued with coconut milk to add body and a subtle sweetness. The expert handling of fresh ingredients — some of which come straight from local growers — is what makes it so good. The red curry tends to be more on the mild side, but if you want more heat, just ask.

Despite the name, you can similarly customize the spice level in stir-fried Spicy Basil Chicken ($9.99), the perfect example of the chef’s quick cooking technique. The secret behind stir-fried dishes is the wok’s high searing heat, which locks in moisture and flavor. Bite-sized pieces of chicken mixed with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, oyster sauce and Thai seasonings are ready in a hurry. The dish then gets a double hit of basil, both wilted towards the end of cooking and added raw as a final garnish.

For a Thai place, Vietnamese pho is a little off the beaten track. Nonetheless, nothing beats a big feel-good bowl of it. After all, the soup’s country of origin shares a border with Thailand. With pho, the most important part is the broth. To get the most flavor, explains Sayavong, “we boil the meat and bones for a long time.” Filled with meat-balls, tripe and tendon, and accompanied with bean sprouts, basil leaves and lime for garnishing, the soup brings instant “phofillment” via dripping noodles and herbal vapors.

Enjoy the soup by itself or take advantage of two combo options — pho, spring rolls and Thai tea or pho, a summer roll and Thai coffee — each priced at $14.99. Crispy spring rolls stuffed with pork, carrots and long rice are served with cucumbers, mint and sweet-and-sour sauce. There’s peanut dipping sauce for the shrimp summer roll. And last but not least, fresh-brewed iced Thai tea and dark roast coffee sweetened with condensed milk offer a refreshing pick-me-up.

Royal Thai Garden

Ewa Point Marketplace
91-1001 Kaimalie St., Ewa Beach
Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Ewa Beach Shopping Center, Ewa Beach, HI 96706

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best