My first taste of Southeast Asian cooking was back in 2000. In my college town, some of my more cultured friends wanted to visit Spice Island Tea House. I was open to the new experiences life in Pennsylvania offered. I went hiking and rafting. I ate perogies and deli sandwiches stacked with greasy fries and cole slaw. I was determined to experience life outside of my Afro-Caribbean native New Yorker experience. Prior to then, my encounters with Asian food were limited to the cheap Chinese food spots abundant in urban, black neighborhoods. I knew their standard menu thoroughly, as it was the same served in every borough at almost any hour. But reading an authentic Southeast Asian restaurant menu was literally like reading a different language. On my first taste, I played it safe and ordered a curry dish but slowly I discovered the rich flavors of the region and fell in love with the food years before our travels began. Some of my regular dishes were Java Fried Rice, Rangoon Night Market Noodle, and Green Curry Tofu. But my absolutely favorite dish had always been Pad Thai and I was missing it sorely.
Scattered across Muscat, you’ll find a modest offering of Thai restaurants, most of which are attached to fine hotels and city hot spots. But given the Thai community here, we were determined to found out where they eat and we did. In Qurm, at a plaza across the road from the Natural Park, we found Thai Corner. The reviews I read were just what I needed to here: “authentic food”, “no frills eatery”, and “affordable”. We planned to meet a dear friend in Muscat last weekend and found our perfect opportunity to give Thai Corner a try.
Seated next to a Turkish Restaurant named Touma, we found Thai Corner to be a simple and clean eatery with a few photos and Thai tourism posters along the walls. Simple tables covered with plastic and a pair of golden statues greeting us at the door. Our waitress wore plain clothes, no uniform or ethnic dress, but had an adequate command of English to take our order accurately. Our first glance of the menu wasn’t too appetizing. The dishes were given simpler English titles alongside Thai script and mostly included chicken and seafood. It was hard to know what to expect but once we heard the operative phrase “Pad Thai”, all worries were abated.
Our meal was deliciously enjoyable. Our final selection of Pad Thai, Red Curry Tofu, Green Coconut Tofu, Steamed Kale and Mushroom, and steamed rice complimented each other well. Every sauce was savory and rich. The spicier Red Curry seemed to balance out the Coconut Green Curry. All of the vegetables were fresh and crunchy and the fresh herbs of basil, lemongrass, and cilantro were abundant. Each dish ranged from about 3-4 OMR or 8-10 USD but was so thoughtfully prepared and served by Thai hands that the meal was well worth the cost. Thai Corner still can’t beat the cost-friendly goodness of Coconut House, but when our taste buds need a break from Swahili cooking, we know where to go.
Note: Pad Thai usually include fish or shrimp paste and eggs, so specify your dietary request when ordering.