Spice is Right

dining thaiheartsateYou’ll fall for the fresh produce and heritage spices at Thai Heart

We visited some associates who own a store in the same King’s Village Shopping Center in which Thai Heart rests and they had told friends that before trying the restaurant, they didn’t like Thai food. The friends explained it was because they had never eaten good Thai food. I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed great Thai dishes, and have to agree that the meals from Nattawut Yimsamram and Siriporn Kitphongsri are very good indeed.

The menu here is written mostly in English, making choices seem less daunting to newcomers to the cuisine. With two rooms, decorated in numerous sequined and beaded tapestries in gilded frames, a number of carved pieces, and silk flowers, each table boasts a set of condiments. Besides soy sauce, diners can spice up their selections with Sriracha, powdered dried chilies, and vinagared chili paste, chunky with seeds.

The weekday lunch menu features seven-dollar plates which include soup, salad and steamed rice. We opted to order numerous larger dishes to share, ensuring us of leftovers.

I was impressed with our order of unsweetened iced tea. It not only arrived in a pitcher, but it was brewed with special spices like its sweetened milky cousin. In the glass, the ice magnified its bright color, shimmering like orange Jell-O.

We began with four marinated, turmeric-colored skewers of Chicken Satay ($6) which were served with both a slightly chunky peanut sauce and a small salad of cucumber, its skin decoratively scored, in a sweetened vinegar dressing. The plate was embellished with a carved carrot flower, almost too pretty to eat, but crisp and sweet.

A triangular bowl of Tom Yum Chicken Soup ($4) easily fed two as a starter. Chicken breast and fat straw mushroom slices were seasoned with cilantro and green onion in a clear, tart broth. Flecks of red chili offered a hint of heat.

For the Thai Chicken Salad ($8), a plate of iceberg lettuce was piled high with minced chicken, slivered carrot, and green and red onions. Flecks of red chili in the lime dressing kicked some heat into the mix.
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I appreciated that these first three dishes were served leisurely, as separate courses, allowing us to enjoy each at their proper temperatures.

Beads of sweat formed on my forehead, proving that the Green Curry Chicken ($9) when ordered “Thai-spicy” is delightfully assertive. It featured white chicken, red bells, zucchini and a generous amount of fresh basil.

The Pad Kee Mow ($9) was a different kind of spicy. Lean pork was tossed with slivers of red bell peppers, bean sprouts, basil and wide noodles in thick brown gravy. Mild at the first sampling, the piquancy of this dish grew stronger with each bite.

The day’s special was grilled Salmon ($14) on a bed of colorful vegetables. It was served with a bowl of red and green chili salsa.

Thai Heart, 218-G Mt. Herman Road, Scotts Valley, 438-1800. Beer and wine. Cash only. Open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 2:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Visit thaiheartusa.com.

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