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The Gossiping Gourmet: Thai Bros. offers satisfying, if not always spicy, array

May 21, 2013|By Terry Markowitz
  • The garlic pork is a popular dish for the lunch crowd in downtown Laguna's Thai Bros. restaurant.
The garlic pork is a popular dish for the lunch crowd in… (DON LEACH )

For the past 19 years, Thai Bros. has been serving locals and tourists mostly traditional Thai cuisine, save the occasional exception like fried wontons with cream cheese and avocado.

This little storefront restaurant is a pleasant and unpretentious place to dine, with white tablecloths, a large fish tank and pictures of people and scenes from Thailand. One wall is covered with a striking, Asian-themed, multi-dimensional painting by local artist Paul Courtney. The cozy, narrow, L-shaped dining area makes it easy for guests to inquire of their neighbors, "What are you eating, and is it good?"

We can never pass up the geow sa, wonderful fried dumplings stuffed with a juicy, delicately seasoned chopped chicken and vegetable mixture. It comes with a sweet and spicy soy dipping sauce on the side. Shredded carrots and cabbage garnish the plate, and we used the extra sauce as a dressing to make a little salad.

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There are several sates, spring rolls and fried calamari, among other selections. If you can't decide, have a sampler platter with a variety of tasty bites.

Thai curries range from the popular Famous Yellow, with chicken and potatoes in a coconut milk sauce, to the Red Devil, featuring beef, snap peas, sauce carrots and zucchini in a mild Panang curry sauce.

Soups are always a good bet in a Thai restaurant, and we chose Doug's Favorite, a creamy-smooth coconut milk soup that had a gentle tartness for balance and was chock full of shredded carrots, cabbage and cilantro. Patrons have their choice of chicken or shrimp, and we went for the small, tasty shrimp. The restaurant offers a wonton soup (geow num) with wontons stuffed with shrimp and chicken and the classic tom yum, hot and sour, with cilantro, lemon grass, vegetables and chicken or shrimp.

On the salad menu, in addition to the house and papaya, are three entrée-sized offerings, one with chicken, one with beef and one with seafood. I'm a big fan of these, since they make a perfect lunch. I can't make up my mind which I like best, but maybe it's the yum gai: sliced chicken breast on romaine, with celery, carrots, onions, cashews, peanuts and mint in a spicy lime dressing.

Perfect Harmony is the name of the sliced chicken in peanut sauce on a bed of spinach. The chicken was a bit overcooked, but the bright green al dente spinach was very good, and the peanut sauce brought everything together.

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