It must be great for a local, independent restaurant to win an award for their impeccable service or delicious food. All the hard work they put in, finally recognized by a big publication or some authority on restaurants in the area. It’s got to feel pretty good, especially when you’re competing with an endless sea of asian cuisine restaurants.
Awards though, especially when it comes to an experience as subjective as dining, can come at a cost. All the sudden, notoriety is heaped onto an establishment and expectations naturally increase with every praise and accolade the critics give it.
in Clearwater is a shining example of the previous sentiment. Awarded numerous “Best Thai Restaurant" since it’s inception in the mid-2000s, Thai Coconut, in terms of notoriety and praise, is likely the most-loved Thai restaurant in the area by publications and critics alike. Naturally, we figured we’d give it a shot.
This tiny, converted KFC restaurant is unassuming like many great, authentic eateries. It's menu is rich in the traditional flavors and spices of Thailand.
For an appetizer, the chicken tom khar soup caught my eyes right away. It's an intriguing blend of coconut milk, lemon grass, lime, chicken, and assorted veggies. The tom khar soup was, admittedly, a venture in completely new tastes for me. Man, was it everything a soup should be. It has loads of milky, flavorful broth speckled with a healthy serving of chicken, shitake mushrooms and onions. It was hot, filling, and, if you’ve never tried it, a very novel, but incredibly intriguing sour, savory taste.
For an entrée, the “Amazing Sauce” dish with pork seemed appropriate. I mean, if you say it’s amazing, it better be amazing right? Well, kind of. “Amazing Sauce” as they call it, is more of a simple peanut sauce you could easily make at home with few ingredients and a food processor. You can opt for the addition of spicy pepper flakes which definitely add a complimentary dimension to the sauce. The portion size, loaded with mixed veggies and white rice, was perfectly ample for the price, but “amazing” is a bit of a stretch in my book.
Accolades aside, and from the meal consumed, it’s apparent Thai Coconut knows what it’s doing when it comes to being a cut above many Thai restaurants in the area.
As for being the best? Well, that’s up to you.