My daughter introduced me to Thai food when we returned to Virginia in 2004. I’m not really sure what I was expecting but, for some reason, I had it in my head that it would be very spicy. I’m not even sure why that would bother me because I like spicy food. I’m a push over for just about anything Cajun.
There are, of course, some really spicy Thai dishes. However, for the most part the restaurants we frequent try to let the customer control just how much spice goes into the food. I like having that control as does my son-in-law who I think must have an iron stomach because he likes everything extra hot. My favorite Thai food comes from a small, family owned restaurant located on Hampton Highway in Yorktown, Virginia. It is called Thai Erawan and they serve nothing but authentic Thai cuisine.
The atmosphere of the main dining area is very casual in nature. They have an additional room off to the side that is used for banquets, parties, special events, and occasional charity dinners. Everything is decorated with authentic Oriental design with lots of black lacquer, hanging lanterns, red tassels, and lovely knick-knack décor. They do not use booths, opting instead for tables that can be combined and re-combined to seat as few or as many patrons as necessary.
The service here is slightly laid back; not slow, just very informal. They treat their patrons more like extended members of their family than as customers. This adds a nice touch to the overall scheme of things.
I have to admit that I have not tried quite as many menu items here as the rest of my family. I have tried a few but I’m addicted to their Garlic and Black Pepper Chicken. It is just too delicious to describe adequately. My husband loves their Erawan Fried Rice as does my daughter, although she ventures into other areas from time to time. I think my son-in-law has probably tried half the menu. He loves just about everything. My grandson loves rice; just plain old rice, which he can pack away with the best of them.
Thai Erawan offers a standard fare of appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees, covering a wide enough variety of foods to suit just about any pallet. Here is a description of some of their best:
Appetizers (ranging in price from $2.95 to $5.95)
- Spring Rolls of mixed vegetables wrapped in spring roll skin, deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce, with four to an order;
- Fried Tofu served with crushed peanuts and sweet and sour sauce;
- Hoy Jow, crabmeat, minced port, and scallions wrapped in bean curd skin and deep-fried;
- Fried Wontons with minced pork and vegetables wrapped in wonton skin, deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce with eight to an order;
- Crab Angels with crab meat mixed with cream cheese, wrapped in wonton skin and deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce with six to an order;
- Pot Stickers of delicate vegetable steamed dumplings stuffed with pork and shrimp served in traditional Thai light curry sauce with five to an order;
- Todd Mun Pie of blended filet of fish mixed with spices and sliced green beans, deep-fried and served with a delicious house cucumber sauce with five to an order;
- Kanom Jeeb with steamed dumplings stuffed with pork, shrimp, water chestnuts served with a special ginger sauce at five per order;
- Satay with slices of meat seasoned with curry powder, charbroiled and served with peanut and cucumber sauce at five per order; and
- Shrimp in a Blanket with tiger shrimp wrapped in spring roll skin, deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce with five per order.
Salads (ranging in price from $5.25 to $7.95):
- Thai Salad with a mixture of fresh vegetables and fried tofu, topped with a rich Thai peanut dressing;
- Som Tum with shredded green papaya mixed with tomatoes, chili peppers, peanuts, and lime juice;
- Larb with either chicken, pork or beef minced seasoned with Thai herbs and spices as well as scallions and lime juice;
- Nam Sod with minced pork with fresh ginger, onions, scallions, and roasted peanuts tossed in a hot and spicy sauce;
- Nam Tok with either chicken or beef grilled and then mixed with fresh basil, scallions, onions, and Thai herbs;.
- Yum Goong with shrimp mixed with chili peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lime juice;
- Pra Murk with squid mixed with chili peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lime juice;
- Yum Gail with chicken mixed with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, and lime juice;
- Yum Moo with beef mixed with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, and lime juice;
- Yum Nua with pork mixed with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, and limejuice.
- Yum Pedd with roasted duck mixed with chili sauce, onions, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, and lime juice; and
- Yum Won Sen with bean thread mixed with shrimp, minced pork, onions, scallions, peanuts, and lime juice.
Soups (ranging in price from $3.50 per bowl to $10.95 and $12.95 per pot):
- Tom Yum (lemon grass);
- Tom Kar, chicken in coconut with galanga, mushrooms, onions, and kafler leaves;
- Tofu with mixed pork and scallions in a delicious broth; and
- Won Ton with stuffed wonton in a rich flavorful broth.
Curries (ranging in price from $7.95 to $9.95):
- Green Curry with green peas, bell peppers, and fresh basil leaves – a hot dish;
- Masaman Curry with potatoes, and roasted peanuts – a milder dish;
- Red Curry with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and fresh basil leaves – a spicy dish;
- Panang Curry with kafler leaves, bell peppers, and fresh basil leaves – a spicy dish; and
- Yellow Curry with potatoes, and onion – a hot dish.
Thai Erawan’s Best Choices (ranging in price from $11.95 to current market value):
- Roasted Duck Basil with onions, bell pepper, and basil leaves in a house sauce;
- Goong Sapparos with sautéed black tiger shrimp, cashew nuts, onions, bell peppers, pineapple, and scallions in a light brown sauce;
- Phuket Seafood with shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels, bell peppers, onions, green beans, and basil leaves in roasted chili sauce;
- Pirates Treasure with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, squid, scallops, bamboo shoots, onions, and basil leaves in Erawan’s special sauce;
- Robin Shrimp with black tiger shrimp sautéed in cumin sauce, onions, celery, onions, and basil leaves in Erawan special sauce; and
- Crispy Whole Flounder topped with a choice of chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, and basil leaves; sweet and sour sauce, bell peppers, pineapple, onion, and scallions; or mushrooms, ginger, onions, and scallions in brown sauce.
Entrees (ranging in price from $7.95 to $9.95); available with chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, tofu, shrimp, scallops, or squid:
- Baby Corn and Mushrooms with scallions, onions, and carrots in a delicious sauce;
- Bean Sprout and Tofu with scallions and lightly fried tofu in a garlic sauce;
- Broccoli Delight with a light brown sauce;
- Cashew Nuts with onions, bell peppers, carrots, and scallions in a special sauce;
- Basil Eggplant with bell peppers, onions, and fresh basil leaves in chili and garlic sauce (a spicy dish;
- Garlic and Black Pepper with Thai style herbs and garlic pepper sauce served on top of fresh cabbage (a spicy dish);
- Kapow with bell peppers, green beans, onions and basil leaves in a delicious sauce (a spicy dish);
- Pad Ped with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, onions, and basil leaves with chili sauce (a spicy dish);
- Pad Pik Khling with curry sauce and green beams sprinkled with shredded kafler leaves (a spicy dish);
- Pad Khing Sod with fresh ginger, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and scallion in a light brown sauce;
- Sweet and Sour, Thai Style with pineapple, onions, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, scallions, and tomatoes;
- Vegetable Delight with mixed vegetables in a delicious special horse radish sauce;
- Bamboo Basil with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, onions and leaves in basil sauce (a spicy dish); and
- Pepper Steak with sautéed beef, onions, and bell peppers in a savory brown sauce.
Thai Style Noodles (ranging in price from $7.95 to $9.95); available with a choice of beef, chicken, pork, tofu, vegetables, shrimp, scallops, or squid:
- Dressing Noodles with bean sprouts and ginger in lemon curry sauce (a spicy dish);
- Drunken Noodles with bell peppers, green beans, onions, and fresh basil leaves;
- Lad Na with large rice noodles and broccoli in a light gravy sauce;
- Pad See Eaw with large rice noodles, egg, broccoli, and sweet soy sauce; and
- Pad Thai with egg, bean sprouts, scallions, and crushed peanuts in authentic Thai sauce.
Fried Rice (ranging in price from $6.95 to $8.95):
- Kao Pad with fried rice, and a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, vegetables, or shrimp, jasmine rice, onions, scallions, tomatoes, and eggs with a special sauce;
- Kao Pad Kapow with basil fried rice and a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, vegetables, or shrimp, bell pepper, green beans, onions, and basil leaves in a delicious sauce (a spicy dish);
- Erawan Fried Rice with chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, onions, egg, broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes; and
- Hawaiian Fried Rice with chicken, shrimp, raisins, pineapple, cashew nuts, onions, egg, and scallions.
All spicy dishes can be somewhat controlled by the customer who can order these from one-half to five stars which ranges of spicy to firehouse hot.
Drinks here include water, tea, a variety of soft drinks, and a few Oriental liquors.
Beside the fact that this restaurant goes out of its way to make its customers feel at home, it is also an excellent community citizen. About four to six times a year, Thai Erawan will have a Sunday buffet of their most popular dishes. The food is free but customers are expected to make a donation on behalf of the charity of that day. They have supported local charities as well as victims of Hurricane Katrina and those of the Tsunami. They encourage customers to submit ideas for these charity events and always pledge to send 100 percent of the profits to the identified charity for that event.
Thai Erawan offers dine-in and take-out services and accepts cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
If you are ever in the Yorktown area, I encourage you to try this little hidden secret. It will be well worth your time and effort!