Most of the Thai I’ve had in Houston has been mediocre except Thai Gourmet. I’ve only been 3 times but each time it exceeds expectations.
Thai Gourmet is located in a neglected strip mall west of the Galleria. It is next door to a gym which has some their equipment outside so that you can witness the ‘man-mountains’ in action; a misguided marketing technique perhaps. The interior reminds me of those old-school, out-of-synch, English-dubbed Kung Fu films; its OK on the surface but there is something way off-center. Its an ultra-casual, big open room, which is predictably loud, often with animated patrons traveling in large packs. Also, what takes most people off guard is the frantic, fast-paced timing, particularly at lunch; volume is key to their business’ success. Successful they are considering each time I’ve been it is essentially a full house with a short wait.
Atmosphere, who cares. Thai Gourmet is not a place to impress a date, its a place to experience the best Thai food in Houston. For my third visit I tried what I should have tried on my first visit – the Thai litmus test – Pad Thai.
Pad Thai sounds easy to make; some rice noodles, chicken, sundry veggies and the sauce. Its the sauce where things typically go wrong. Its basically tamarind, fish sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar but balancing the sour quality of tamarind seems elusive to most Thai restaurants in Houston. Without that balance you get a mouthful of too sour or something that tastes like dessert noodles with chicken. I’m happy to report, Thai Gourmet is spot on.
Service is polite and efficient but accept that they run on a high-volume premise so lingering will be constantly interrupted by ‘Is there anything else before we kick your table-hogging ass out?’; only it won’t come out that obviously. This is one the best places for time-constrained people; I’m 99% certain you can order, eat, pay and be out the door in 40 minutes or less.
Prices are reasonable; lunch specials are $9.50 for any of the dozen selections – salad and spring roll included. Dinners are $10-20 but the offerings on the dinner menu are more interesting; there are a number of duck selections, which I’m going to try next time.
Lunch: 27 December 2013
Thai Gourmet | 6324 Richmond | HTX 77057