When you think Thai food, the small borough of Coplay isn’t likely to be the first place to come to mind, but based on a glowing recommendation from a friend, I headed there to check out Thai Diner.
The restaurant, which opened in 2015, is owned by Narucha Noyvimol, who also co-owns Thai Origin in South Whitehall Township. It is headed by manager Kasidis “Kas” Phupaiboon, and executive chef Noppadol Keawwang oversees the culinary operations.
Thai Diner sports a fairly sizable menu, with items that range from traditional Thai to dishes taken from other Asian cultures.
Appetizers include items like Thai dumplings, edamame and fried wontons. Those looking to warm up with a bowl of soup can opt for tom yum, glass noodle, udon and ramen.
If you’re looking for a full entree there are two pages of stir fry and curry options, as well as duck, steak and seafood. Most dishes can be customized on a five-tier spice scale, from mild to “Thai hot.”
Desserts include Thai coconut pudding, sweet rice dumplings and mango sticky rice. The restaurant also has hot and iced teas, flavored drinks and Thai coffee.
Setting and decor: Upon entering Thai Diner you pass through a small takeout area adorned with knickknacks, a chalkboard with specials and a wall of photos displaying many of the dishes. The dining area, with a mix of table and banquette seating that can seat around 30, is similarly decked out. Various statues are on shelves and a curio cabinet in a corner is stuffed with trinkets. A TV was playing a Thai cooking show, but the atmosphere was quiet and casual, perfect for dinner conversations.
Appetizers: My group started with the cozy shrimp ($7), a stack of shrimp wrapped in scallions and an eggroll and deep-fried. I didn’t partake but my friends enjoyed the crunchy morsels, as well as the spicy sauce on the side.
I chose the scallion pancakes ($6), comprising scallions, wheat flour, corn starch and seasoning. Deep-fried, cut into wedges and served in a metal basket, they were light and crackling, enhanced by a salty and savory black ginger sauce. The chicken satay appetizer ($8) was a hefty plate, with blackened chicken served over a bed of lettuce and shredded vegetables. Two halves of white toast was as an odd complement, as was an overly sweet, nearly clear, sauce with cucumber hunks floating in it. Much better was the peanut saucewith crumbled peanut bits that tasted more fruity and tropical than most satay dippings.
Entrees: My wife chose the spicy bamboo stir fry with chicken ($13). Long shoots of sauteed bamboo shoots were mixed with aromatic kaffir lime and basil leaves, string beans, chunks of chicken and bell peppers. The mixture was surrounded by a delicious sauce, created from simmered coconut milk and red curry paste and accentuated by a nest of shredded carrot and a decorative flower.
A friend got the drunken noodles with chicken ($13), which was unattractive in appearance but marvelous in taste. It had an array of vegetables, egg, chili, basil leaves and flat noodles, all stir-fried.
Another friend got the ginger stir fry with steak ($14). Piles of onions, peppers, mushrooms and scallions were floating in a brown sauce that emitted a powerful ginger aroma and flavor that perfectly accentuated the tender slices of beef. The plating was attractive as well, with bountiful colors throughout and a hibiscus flower adding a delicate extra touch.
My dish, the holy basil duck ($23), was my favorite. A roasted half duck, leg bone protruding from the dish, was surrounded by sliced onions and bell peppers in a sauce rendered devilishly spicy because I requested it “Thai hot.” Whole basil leaves added extra flavor, but the crispy, flavorful duck was the star.
A last friend decided on the pineapple fried rice with tofu ($13). A mound of rice was yellow from curry powder and interspersed with shredded tofu, pineapple pieces, egg, diced scallions, peas, tomatoes, carrots, raisins and onions. Cashews throughout made the taste and texture more complex.
Service: Our server guided us to our seats, took our orders right away and had our food out in a fair amount of time. He was friendly and checked in with us throughout the meal, but otherwise left us to enjoy our dinner. A note for anyone dining in a group: there is a maximum of two checks per table.
Bottom line: The Thai Diner in Coplay is serving up extraordinary traditional Thai food at good prices with friendly service in a cozy atmosphere. Dinner for five totaled $107.59.
910 Chestnut St, Coplay
Hours: noon-9 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$8; soups: $7-$14; salads $6-$11; noodles, stir fry, and entrees: $13-$25; sides: $2-$3; beverages: $1.75-$3; desserts: $5-$6
Credit cards: Yes
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Location: Next to the Coplay Post Office, about one mile from Route 145/MacArthur Road. Parking in restaurant lot.