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“Small but worth the wait”

Isan Thai Restaurant
Ranked #70 of 1,071 Restaurants in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $11 - $29
Cuisines: Thai
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Delivery, Reservations
Description: Isan Thai Restaurant features authentic cuisine from the Northeast region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia known as Isan. Owner Koong brings her home recipes to Isan Thai Restaurant, featuring items like Nham Clook that you will not find elsewhere. Isan Thai Restaurant celebrates the culture and tradition of Isan, with its delicious food, captivating folk dances, and the beautiful sounds of Thai country music. We have a separate lounge featuring quality beer and wine, an Isan/Thai-themed dining area, and outdoor dining.
Reviewed January 27, 2014

We were surprised that the restaurant was still packed at 2:00, and parking was hard to find, but we decided to wait, and it was well worth it. The wait was short as the kitchen and lady servers are very efficient. We split an appetizer, pad thai noodles and a chicken dish. We were amazed at the size of the portions and the freshness of everything we ordered. The crispy rolls were the best we've ever had. We would order the pad thai noodles "hotter" the next time, but we left nothing on our plates. I especially loved the freshness of the vegetables in the chicken dish. We were glad that we had followed the advice from reviewers at TripAdvisor.

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1  Thank lorranrich
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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204 - 208 of 269 reviews

Reviewed January 14, 2014

I went to Isan Thai when my regular Thai restaurant was closed and was surprised about how good the food was. Don't let the outside of the building keep you from eating here. It is really good.

1  Thank JJ600hp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2014

We ate here last year and were pleased then. This year was also a delight. The spring rolls were a good start to an entree of Tom Yum soup and my wife had Pad Thai with tofu. I should have asked for a spicier level for my lemon grass soup, but it was still good. The red wine was excellent and not over-priced. Will go back soon for curry next time!

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Thank Svenskapojke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2013

This restaurant offers many dishes not normally found in your typical American/Thai restaurant. Try the home made Thai grilled Sausages for an appetizer. Green Papaya salad not found in any other restaurant in Sarasota. It is spicy but so good.The crispy duck with Basil is excellent as is the snapper in Chili's. Staff is super pleasant and they also have a large selection of craft beers.

Thank Jack C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2013

I've been here twice (dining in) and done take-out twice as well, since they opened in 2012. I've found the pad Thai - my usual benchmark for a new Thai restaurant - quite nice, authentic (with real pad noodles and Thai spices rather than linguine, as some lesser places use), and flavorful. There's the peanut and seasoning flavors one expects, and I've always been pleased, usually with the seafood combination, but tonight trying the chicken, and spicy by request. We also sampled 2 appetizers, one of which I've never seen before (boasting home-made Thai sausage).

Tonight was a Saturday evening, the week before Thanksgiving week. Maybe it's a bit 'in between' surges of tourists heading down for Winter break, people traveling for Thanksgiving, and snowbirds returning for the winter, but despite the several reviews (and past experience) which describe the place as often busy and hectic, tonight wasn't like that. It was half full with diners and one person waiting for take-out order, chatting with a hostess, He turned to me when I commented on how tonight seemed quite mellow for a Saturday night, and said, "I live just across the street and was wondering if the restaurant had fallen on hard times, since it's not so busy ... it's upsetting because people should know this is the best Thai food around." I would agree. It's not only comparable with Thai restaurants in large cities (like New York) but there are some 'different' dishes shared here along with the classics like curries and pad Thai.

Sampling the Sai Aour (Thai sausage) appetizer was a bit of a new experience, Thai-wise. It consisted of several slices of pungent and soft sausage in a sauce which smelled like purified essence of Thai, somewhere between plum sauce, soy, and sweet seasonings. Served with lettuce and a sticky rice, it was tasty, and 'different' (from usual Thai menus). We also tried the appetizer of "Fresh Roll" with Shrimp. This was interesting to see, as it's wrapped in a translucent skin so that one can see the carrots and other ingredients within. It was fresh-made and wholesome, served with a plum sauce. My only minor gripe here is that the inside ingredients, while fresh, were somewhat bland for my taste. (The sausage, on the other hand, was not only pungent but had a slight zing to it.) Some may very much like the un-spiced 'natural' ingredients, but personally I'll return next time 'round to my old stand-by, the "Spring Roll" for a bit more flavor.

Making up for the not-so-spicy Fresh Roll, was the *very* spicy Pad Thai, with chicken. They asked, 'medium' or 'spicy', hot? I said spicy and she asked again so I confirmed: "Thai spicy". Be warned: it was! I love Vietnamese and Indian and Hunan spicy food, and am used to it being toned down in tourist spots including the Gulf Coast. But this was mighty spicy (as in, pass the water again please). Now I know. It was fine, but because there are so many other spices (including the peanut flavor) which got a bit stepped on by the fiery spice, next time I'll probably settle for 'just hot' as opposed to blazing hot. Others may want to go with the 'mild' or medium. Anyway, they will ask, and accommodate your spice wish, from mild to super-spicy.

Not much else to add. It's been one year since I posted a review of this then-7-months-old restaurant, and it's as it was - popular with locals, and remembered by some (in the reviews) for how crowded it can get at times. I'd say it's worth at least one visit, possibly many more if you get hooked. For Thai in Sarasota, there are maybe 3 great restaurants, and this one is among them. It's in the South of Sarasota, right off the trail (41S), in a tiny little strip mall. Coming from the South (Osprey) it's hard to see but u-turn back across the street at Constitution Ave. and it's right there. One of a few keepers in my book, when I'm in town.

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Thank drmikenyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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