Tastes of Thailand in Central Texas
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., Oct. 9, 2009
Thai Harmony4300 Quinlan Park Rd., 535-7975
Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-2pm, 4:30-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 11:30am-2pm, 4:30-10pm; Sunday, 5-9pm
Thai Harmony is located right in the heart of Steiner Ranch, and despite the far-flung location, the focus of the menu is on authentic Thai dishes, with only a few non-Thai offerings. The owner/chef, C.K. Viranam, is in the kitchen most nights, and consequently Thai Harmony gets high marks for both care in preparation and authenticity. The decor feels a little bit Western, as though the space may have initially housed a Hill Country barbecue joint. Nevertheless, the feel of the room is civilized and just a bit elegant. The service is good, nicely attentive without hovering. The staff appears to be small, but all its members are busy and cheerful and seem invested in the success of the restaurant.
My iced tea was fresh and the lemon wedge large and freshly cut, usually a harbinger of good things to come. The Golden Bags ($5), steamed dumplings filled with pork, mushroom, carrot, onion, and cilantro, are fresh and tasty, though slightly rubbery. They're served with a pleasing ginger-soy dipping sauce, and I had no difficulty finishing the entire generous serving. The pad thai ($10) is excellent – the noodles perfectly cooked, neither too dry nor too damp. The sauce has a noticeable tamarind and garlic flavor, which I greatly appreciated, and there is a reasonable number of shrimp, which are fresh and orangey-pink. The dish's only flaw, and it is a tiny one, is that it is a bit monochromatic; it could use a few more Chinese chives. Nevertheless, it is top-notch. The tamarind duck ($16.50) features an entire duck breast, roasted and sliced, served with onions, ginger, pineapple, and green onion. The duck is roasted skillfully, crispy but not fatty, and the serving is enormous, enough for two people. The ball of white rice accompanying the duck is fresh and hot, and it holds together well enough to be eaten with chopsticks.
The mango with sticky rice ($5) is especially good, a rectangular slab of sticky rice drenched with coconut cream, with a perfectly ripe mango sliced on top. A teeny bit of chocolate sauce on the plate beneath gave it just a touch of originality. Thai Harmony is a wonderful addition to the Steiner Ranch community and will undoubtedly prosper.