In a city where there are more Thai restaurants per capita than Thailand, they don’t warrant much attention, but the convenient location of Mano Thai Diner was too good to ignore. I dragged my husband there for the lunch special, a selection of two entrees with jasmine rice, brown rice or noodles for only $7.99 or a single serving of curry for $5.99.
I scarfed down my Massaman Curry, rich and mellow loaded with potatoes, onions and peanuts in sumptuous coconut milk-infused curry. My second selection was Tofu Pad Pra Ram, steamed veggies and tofu covered with sweet peanut sauce. The combination of sweet and savory always makes my mouth happy! As an appetizer we selected the Curry Puffs, yellow curry potato-filled pastries. Four pastries come in an order for $6.95, which is ideal to split with the lunch special.
“We opened Mano Thai to continue a family tradition.” says owner Mookie Wilder. “This traditions goes back several generations in both the North and South areas of Thailand. We offer the same dishes and recipes that we serve back home in Thailand.”
Since the extent of my knowledge of Thai food comes from Salt Lake City, I can’t speak to the authenticity of the dishes, but I can assure you most things I’ve tried are delectable and the service is consistently friendly and prompt. It takes something exceptional for a Thai restaurant to distinguish itself in Salt Lake City, and Mano Thai Diner has it.
Most every Thai place has vegetarian options, but Mano Thai Diner has carefully constructed their vegetarian menu to stand out with faux meat options like chicken and beef as well as tofu. “We offer a contemporary vegetarian menu, not just substituting tofu for meat, or leaving out items, but completely original unique dishes that have become popular with both our regular customers and hard core vegan and vegetarian customers.” boasts Wilder.
The Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Soup) is a dreamy blend of coconut milk, herbal lemon-grass, tart lime juice, mushrooms and silken tofu. This is what I crave when I’ve had a bad day or am feeling sick. The small ($4.95) usually satiates me, but the large ($10.95) insures left-overs.
If salad sounds better than soup, go with the Larb Lettuce Wrap. The vegetarian version is served with savory minced tofu in a fiery, pungent dressing – a unique taste that I’ve come to crave. The fresh lettuce and sticky rice help the spiciness go down, and it’s fun to assemble each bite. A half order is $6.95 and a full order is $9.95.
Khao Soi ($9.95) is a curried noodle dish hailing from the northern part of Thailand. Tofu is served over rice noodles and garnished with crunchy fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chilies and a squeeze of lime juice. The acidity from the pickled greens and lime juice against the coconut milk-based curry blows my mind every time I eat it. I like to substitute the vegetarian beef; it soaks up the curry and adds a chewy texture.
On the lighter side of noodle-based deliciousness is the Spring Noodle ($8.50), super thin rice noodles are the base of the dish, topped with cucumber, lettuce, onion, cilantro and chopped peanuts. The irresistible part is the hot, fried and crispy sliced spring rolls and slightly sweet sauce; it’s a pleasurable contrast.
Mano Thai Diner is located on 41 West and 3300 South and open 7 days a week. An excellent choice for a quick lunch or grabbing take-out for dinner through the handy drive through window, Mano Thai Diner might be your new favorite vegetarian restaurant. They offer meaty dishes too, but with such a superb vegetarian menu, why risk the high cholesterol and heart disease?