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By guest food reviewer Julie Whitman Jones–
If you’re looking to discover a flavorful taste of Thailand, you may want to give Thai Orchid at 6974 Sunrise Boulevard a try.
Owner Kongkiat (Ken) Putson grew up in Bangkok, Thailand and lives with his family in Citrus Heights. His mother owned a Thai restaurant in Las Vegas and he’s proud to be following in her footsteps with his own restaurant.
Since opening in September 2014, Thai Orchid has received hundreds of positive online reviews, so I was anxious to give it a try.
The restaurant menu includes many popular Thai dishes, with an emphasis on soups, curries and classic stir-fry dishes. A gluten-free menu is also available upon request.
We ordered a variety of appetizers to start off our meal, beginning with Thai Orchid’s special Curry Pops (6 for $5) which are diced potatoes cooked with yellow curry, wrapped in a wonton skin and then deep-fried and served with a small serving of sliced cucumbers in sweet, rice wine vinegar.
We also ordered their Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls, which were delicate and crispy deep-fried eggrolls stuffed with bean threads and assorted vegetables and served with a light sweet sauce.
Thai Orchid’s Chicken Satay had earned a very favorable review, so we made sure to try it too, and were not disappointed. Tender pieces of seasoned chicken on skewers are served alongside cucumber salad and flavorful peanut sauce for dipping.
My guests and I washed all of this down with a hearty mugful of Thai Iced Tea. Coffee, soft drinks, and beer and wine are also available.
Thai Orchid’s menu offers a variety of choices at reasonable prices. Chef specials also vary on a daily basis.
Four different homemade hot and sour soups are reasonably priced in the $5 range for a small bowl, or $10 to serve a larger group. Other flavorful soups include chicken coconut soup (Tom Kha), an aromatic soup of southern Thailand, prepared with slices of chicken and fresh mushrooms in coconut milk and flavored with Thai herbs and spices.
Six different versions of fried rice are offered, including a popular house fried rice ($10.75) with a choice of chicken, beef, pork or fried tofu stir fried with rice, eggs, onion, peas, carrots, and tomatoes, garnished with chopped scallions, cilantro and cucumber.
My guests and I each shared a small bowl of their Mixed Vegetable Coconut Soup, featuring sliced bamboo, carrots and a few other vegetables cooked in a light coconut and lemongrass broth. It was so delicious, not a drop was left!
For an entrée, we sampled one of Thai Orchid’s curry dishes. We chose their Red Curry Beef, cooked with bamboo shoot, bell pepper and Thai basil in a sauce mixture of mild to hot red curry and coconut milk. Red, green, yellow or Panang curries are especially popular dishes, Putson said.
We were filling up quickly, but wanted to experience more of the flavors of Thailand. In the $10 range, we chose one of our favorite dishes, Pad Thai, which came with stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, chicken, scrambled egg, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and scallion, adorned with a spray of fresh bean sprouts.
Craftsmanship is clearly evident in each dish served at Thai Orchid. Whether it be the delicate flowery cut of the sliced carrots or the colorful plated presentation of each dish, the chefs notably take pride in their cuisine.
“We have a staff of three, with two chefs and another who takes care of all of the necessary vegetable and bench prep,” Putson said. “It takes quite a bit of time to prepare all of the different vegetables we use in our authentic dishes.”
A large percentage of Thai Orchid’s overall business is takeout, Putson said, but many of his regular customers prefer to dine in, savoring the restaurant’s quiet atmosphere and gentle Thai instrumental music playing in the background.
“I think many people in Citrus Heights may not realize that there is a very substantial Thai and Laotian community here,” he said in an interview. “The restaurant has become a gathering place in our community and many of the dishes served here are favorites we all remember from home, or grew up with.”
Thai Orchid, at 6974 Sunrise Blvd., is closed on Monday and is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch. On weekdays, the restaurant closes from 3 to 4:30 p.m. to prepare its dinner menu and remains open to 9 p.m.
On Fridays, which its owner said attracts a busy dining crowd, Thai Orchid remains open to 10 p.m. On Saturdays, Thai Orchid is open from 4 to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m., reopening at 4 p.m. to serve dinner until 9 p.m. Additional information and an online menu can be found at www.thaiorchidofcitrusheights.com.
Julie Whitman Jones is a former food columnist for the Pacifica Tribune. After moving to Citrus Heights last year, she now writes guest restaurant reviews for publication in The Sentinel.
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