First off, let me say, please forgive the iPhone pictures. I was too afraid to look like a tourist in my own city to whip my big ol’ Nikon camera out. So anyway, onto the important schtuff…
Surin of Thailand is a newer Thai restaurant in Knoxville’s Bearden district. Situated across from Deane Hill Drive next to Krispy Kreme, it is a spot that has historically had trouble keeping an eatery in business. Surin seems to be here to stay though.
The restaurant has an expansive menu covering the gammett of Thai cuisine from sushi and stir fry to noodle, curry and specialty dishes created by Surin’s head chef.
The hubs’ favorite restaurant is Taste of Thai and I must say it is one of the best places to eat in Knoxville; so naturally we had to give this place a try to see if it can hold a candle to the competition for best Thai in Knoxville. One of my litmus tests for good Thai cuisine is their pad thai dish. Unfortunately no one ordered it this time.
The appearance of the restaurant from the street is very non-discript, but once inside you feel transported to a temple or garden in Thailand. A wall of bamboo separate the dining room from the bar. A “miniature” version of the many Giant Buddha statues found throughout Asia sits against the back wall. There is a sushi bar in the back. Light wood floors and bright accents fill the room with warmth while you are seated at dark wood tables with dark leather chairs.
We went to Surin on one of our adult play dates (as I like to call them) with the Brownes. Yeah, basically, we cook or eat out, lots of good food is always involved, maybe have a drink or two, maybe play some Mario on the Wii, but mostly vent about regular life. It’s just our speed as far as a good ol’ hang out goes, but I digress. Back to the food…
So we each ordered an appetizer to start and to share.
The chicken larb served with crisp cabbage. A Thai specialty similar to lettuce wraps. Great flavor with the basil and cilantro.
The surin baskets were a house specialty created by Surin’s chef. A mini pastry basket was filled with shrimp, corn, chicken, onion, cilantro and spices. They serve it with a yummy light honey-peanut, cucumber sauce.
For the main dish, I ordered the chicken panang on the left. I love Thai curry, especially the peanut flavored curries infused with coconut milk. They tend to be slightly sweeter, which balances the heat from the spice. This was a flavorful and delicious panang curry. I would have liked more veggies other than just the bell pepper though.
Hubs ordered another house specialty – the spicy spaghetti. It was loaded with chicken and shrimp.
Matt ordered the masaman beef, which is served with potatoes, carrots and peanuts. His dish looked by far the best when they brought all of the entrees out to the table. I would definitely go back just to try this dish. I love the masaman at Taste of Thai, but usually order it with chicken and it is served with avocado and cashews. To me, this was a whole new take on masaman. He ate almost every bite, so I take that to mean it was delish!
Erin ordered the chicken curry, but I did not get a picture of it. Epic photog fail. It looked very similar to my dish so you can imagine or just scroll back up. The sauce was a mild yellow curry served with potatoes and carrots. She has not always been a big fan of curry, but ate the heck out of this one and said it had great flavor.
As a wrap up, I’d definitely go back to Surin. The food was inching up on my list of best Thai in Knoxville (although I still have to give that title to Taste of Thai), the service was excellent, the Thai iced tea was some of the best, the decor is unique, and overall we had a great experience. So I hope that the historically bad luck of that location stops with Surin and that it stays around for good.