A convenient location and high-quality, authentic food have helped make Thai Taste a Carbondale favorite for more than a decade.
The restaurant — located on the southwest corner of Main Street and Illinois Avenue — is modern, bright, inviting and almost always very busy. Every dish is homemade and cooked fresh to order.
Thai Taste has a full menu starting with appetizers and soups, ranging from the more traditional fried spring rolls to Satay, four skewers of marinated chicken that were grilled and served with cucumber salad and a peanut dipping sauce.
Soups include exotic selections such as Poh Tak, a spicy seafood soup made with lemongrass, citrus leaves, basil and mushrooms; and their house special soup: bean thread noodles, shrimp and ground pork with vegetables in a clear broth.
Servers deliver steaming plates with generous portions of aromatic entrees such as Pad Thai, the restaurant’s “world famous” thin rice noodles stir-fried with egg, tofu, bean sprouts, green onions and ground peanuts. Add chicken or shrimp for a small extra charge.
Regulars also love Pad Kratium Prig Thai, a stir-fried blend of green onions and either beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, squid, seafood or tofu, topped with fried garlic and fresh cilantro, and served with Jasmine rice.
Thai Taste is also known for its rice dishes, such as Fried Rice with egg, tomato, and onions with a choice of vegetables and tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or a combo dish with chicken, pork and beef. Their Spicy Fried Rice is stir-fried with hot chilies, green peppers and onions.
Beverages include Kafae Yen (Thai iced coffee with cream), Cha Yen (Thai sweet iced tea with cream) and an impressive list of local and craft beers and wines.
The desserts are as unique as the entrees. Choices include Dek Uan: peanut butter, bananas and chocolate in a wonton wrapper, deep-fried and served with a coconut cream sauce; and Thai’d Up Bananas Foster: vanilla ice cream and sliced bananas in a caramel rum sauce, topped with crushed cashews.
When developing creative menu items, owner Jetaime “Tam” Rachatanavin draws on experience working in his family’s Thai restaurant in Texas, where his mother and father recreated dishes from their native country.
Rachatanavin moved to Carbondale and opened Thai Taste in December 2004 after hometown friends, who were going to SIU, told him of the lack of Thai cuisine in Carbondale.
“My friends said, ‘You need to come up here and open a restaurant,’ so here I am,” Rachatanavin said.
Although some Thai dishes are traditionally prepared very spicy, the chefs at Thai Taste let each customer determine the level of spice they desire, from 0 to 10. One is mild, five is very spicy, and 10 is extremely spicy. Thai curry dishes are the exception, with the lowest spice level at three.
“Ten is pretty hot,” Rachatanavin said. “We use two primary types of spices: dry red chilies and fresh green chilies. It’s just a matter of how much we put in your food.”
Thai Taste can seat about 55 guests and while it offers an upscale, trendy atmosphere, the restaurant is decidedly casual. Reservations are not required although they are strongly encouraged on the weekends when the dinner crowd can become sizable.