Rain's flood of flavors raises it to the top of the Thais

Rain's flood of flavors raises it to the top of the Thais

May 2nd, 2013 by Patrick Smith in Chattnow Dining

Panang Curry with chicken at Rain Thai Bistro is prepared in a peanut and coconut milk sauce, cooked with bell peppers, peas, carrots and fresh basil, and served with rice.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

Where: Rain Thai Bistro, 6933 Lee Highway

Phone: 423-386-5586

Website: http://www.rainthaibistro.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Price range: Rain's Spring Rolls ($7) to Rain's Soft Shell Crab ($21)

Convincing people to eat Thai food can be tricky. Around Chattanooga, Thai food is much less popular than Chinese or Japanese, but locals really need to give it a try. The food is packed with powerful flavors and wonderful tastes. Plus, it doesn't have that "Americanized" flavor of so many cheap buffets where all General Tso's Chicken tastes the same.

In my opinion, Thai food has stayed more authentic, and it's much more enjoyable. Rain Thai Bistro, located on Lee Highway, near the Rush Fitness center, is one of the best Thai restaurants around.

THE MENU

One of the first things you'll notice about the menu is the endless amount of choices. With a full appetizer menu, as well as soups and salads, main courses, a kids menu, plus dessert and sushi options, you'll be hard-pressed to leave on an empty stomach.

Highlighted by eight choices, the appetizer menu features items such as the Chicken Satay ($9), skewered chicken, marinated in coconut milk and served with a peanut sauce.

The options for your main course - there are more than 20 of them - include staples such as Classic Pad Thai ($14) as well as six curry options, such as Yellow Curry ($13). The menu also offers less common items such as Asparagus Shrimp ($18) and Rain's Crispy Duck ($17).

Diners also are able to choose the level of spiciness with which their food is cooked. Be forewarned: "Thai hot" is a temperature only the most experienced patrons will enjoy.

THE ORDER

My wife and I started our meal with an appetizer, the Crunchy Crab Roll ($5). The sushi was fabulous. We added eel sauce for a sweet flavor on top.

For her entree, my wife chose the Panang Curry with chicken ($13) for her entree. The Panang Curry is an authentic Thai curry in a peanut and coconut milk sauce. It's then cooked with bell peppers, peas, carrots and fresh basil. My wife said it had both a sweet and spicy flavor with a great taste - nothing that was too overpowering.

Dining at Rain in the past, I've chosen the Spicy Basil noodles with chicken, so I decided on the same dish, served with rice. The Spicy Basil ($12) is flavored with sautéed garlic, chili peppers, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and basil leaves. My dish was wonderful, incredibly flavorful but not too spicy. It's heavier on the vegetables rather than the chicken, which is a nice change of pace.

We finished our meal by sampling the Mango Sticky Rice ($7) for dessert. This dish, warm rice topped with delicious fresh mango, had a great, sweet flavor.

THE SERVICE

The service at Rain was excellent. We were quickly greeted and shown to our table. Our drinks arrived quickly, and our server stayed attentive, despite having another table and a large party to keep him busy.

We briefly waited for our sushi after our main course had arrived. This was unfortunate, but our server explained the sushi chef was backed up due to the busy night. Regardless, our food still arrived quickly, and our server was always fast with drink refills.

THE SPACE

There's lots of space inside Rain. There's a really cool, authentic Thai main dining room. The floor has been raised, so your legs will hang over the floor underneath the table, though you'll be sitting at a normal table height. There are also additional booths, a bar area with table seating and seating around the sushi bar. Despite all the seats, don't be surprised if you have a short wait. Rain always seems to be busy.

THE VERDICT

My wife and I had a great experience at Rain Thai Bistro. It's Thai food done right.

If you've been unsure simply because it's Thai food, get over your worries and give Rain a try. From the expansive menu to the hip space to the wonderful service, Rain is worth your money and time.

Contact staff writer Patrick Smith at 423-757-6589 or psmith@timesfreepress.com.