Let’s face it. The restaurants in Victory Park haven’t exactly been success stories. Most of the original eateries near American Airlines Center have long since shuttered because either they were too expensive for the event crowds, or they just plain sucked. And in some cases, both.
Enter Naga Thai Kitchen and bar, the newest concept from the minds behind two of our favorite NYC Thai spots, Sea Thai Bistro and Peep Thai Nouveau. Just a couple short blocks from the home to Britney Spears concerts, Smucker’s Stars on Ice and from what we’ve been told, basketball and hockey games, the prices are perfect for attracting a good crowd, but hopefully the chic design will be enough to scare off the Hooters riff-raff.
Most dinner entrees clock in at a budget-friendly $11 and their lunch menu items start at just $9, but also include a free lunch-portion appetizer.
For starters, skip the bland Four Season Rolls (carrot, mixed greens, cucumber and vermicelli) and opt for the delectable Steamed Vegetable dumplings instead. Filled with snow pea, spinach, carrot and potato in a healthy-looking green dumpling, these are pods of perfection and a nice change from fried egg rolls.
The Duck Salad is one of our favorite selections on the menu, but sadly for now it’s only available at dinner. Mixed greens are topped with crispy duck, cucumber, carrot, red onion and cashews with a sweet chili sauce. The duck is expertly prepared and if you add a bowl of Tum-Kha Soup, you’ve got a light and satisfying meal.
But that would mean skipping the Country Style Spicy Curry. We were so excited to see a less-ubiquitous curry dish on the menu and this one did not disappoint. But beware, you know when a curry plate lists “spicy” in the name, you’re in for something mind-blowing.
Studded with fresh Thai basil, string beans, mushrooms and bell pepper, the curry features a wickedly flavorful, complex broth that is slightly thinner in consistency than the typical coconut-infused varieties. Make sure you have plenty of water and lots of rice to counteract the heat.
And speaking of rice, the healthy brown variety has never impressed us. Sure, we know it’s a “good carb,” but the texture is always off-putting. Here, they’ve perfected the preparation of brown rice. It’s moist, fluffy and flavorfully nutty without the usual chewy-crunch that makes us sadder than a politician shamed out of office for having tickle fights with other men.
At any Thai restaurant, our litmus test is the Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao). The version here (ordered with beef) is delightful, though we’d love it with just a tad more sauce.
Then there’s the Volcanic Chicken. How excited were we to find out after we ordered it that the baked half chicken would be set ablaze shortly after its arrival at our table. The moist, flavorful chicken is about as simple as any dish gets, but it’s the pure simplicity of flavors that makes this a standout instead of just a boring slab of poultry.
Cocktails are great and unusual. With one little tweak the Thai Mojito was our favorite. Here, they replace the traditional mint with Thai basil for a nice twist on the original. Just ask them to make it a little less sweet or you won’t be able to drink more than one (and that would be a crime).
We’ve already been back several times for lunch and have added Naga Thai to our weekly rotation of favorite spots.
Simply put, it’s Thai-riffic.
669 High Market Street, Dallas
Turtle Creek Chorale Goes Opera
The Phantom has left the building. But fear not, those who want a good opera fix are finally in luck.
Yesterday, we told you that The Turtle Creek Chorale presents Figaro! A Night at the Opera for two exclusive performances at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
The best part is that they’re taking some of the most famous songs and arias from a choice selection of operas and turning out an operatic variety show that has our Viking helmets tingling in anticipation.
Even better, they’re offering a 20% discount on the Wednesday, March 31 performance (only) for Gaylist Daily subscribers. (Use promo code: gaylist)
Tickets: $23 – $65 (full price)
Sunday, March 28 & Wednesday, March 31, 8:00 p.m.
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
2301 Flora Street, Dallas
(214) 526-3214 (Turtle Creek Chorale offices)