Coming from a city with Thai venues on every corner it might seem odd to declare Savannah, Georgia as the city with the best Thai food. But there it is, you just never know where a Thai family is going to land and work for decades to hone their family recipes to perfection with local ingredients. Invariably The King and I is a destination when family gathers in Savannah.
Its buried in a small innocuous strip mall with other restaurants and doesn’t look like much from the outside. But you know the book-cover judgement thing already. The inside is clean, well-dressed in white tablecloths and noise levels are conducive to conversation. I’ve seen many a low key birthday party here and it seems quite popular for date night with the 20-somethings.
You can get the requisite Thai dishes here like Pad Thai and Pad See Ew but what sets King apart from other Thai venues is the what they create with locally caught seafood. They aren’t always available but if you see Soft Shelled Crab in Lemongrass, Kefir Lime sauce or Panang Prawns, definitely try those or any other local seafood options which typically show up in the specials menu; you can circle back to the staples on another visit.
This time I tried Panang Prawns, delicious. The prawns they use are the 12/18 count variety so about 6 is more than enough. First basted in the Panang curry and grilled, then served atop the remaining curry and vegetables. The prawns had the consistency of steak; firm but pliable and juicy all the way. I’ve made Panang curry paste from scratch and compared it to packaged but it wasn’t much better so I don’t do that anymore. However, King’s is much better, a more prominent lemongrass and peanut flavour, my guess is that they get much fresher or more authentic ingredients to make the paste. I tried to extract the secret from the owner but short of waterboarding I don’t think I’ll ever get anymore than what I got – a smile and ‘Glad you like it’. Fair enough.
My dad ordered up the Soft Shelled Crab which was a knockout. With this dish the focus is on the sauce; which is rich and buttery but with contrasting citrus notes from the lemongrass and Kefir lime. The crab is flash fried, which, of course, makes it soo much better.
King also focuses on presentation. I’ve noticed after many trips that almost all the veggies are etched or carved in some way. When the owner brings out the plates, he is very specific about how the plate is delivered to the table and the angle the plate is turned before he walks away. The dish’s focal point must be centered with the customers line of slight.
Its spectacular service. However, if you pop by anytime after they open on Friday or Saturday you might wait upwards of 30 minutes for a table.
Seems on par with what I would spend in Houston. Most of the dishes hover in the $8-13 range, however the seafood specials are often closer to $20.
If I’m in Savannah I know I’m going to eat at King and I, the only decision is which seafood specials to order once we get there.
Dinner: December 2014
The King And I | 7098 Hodgson Memorial | Savannah GA 31406