About Nunthaporn Thai Cuisine
Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine is tucked away in historic downtown Mesa and serves traditional Thai meals, which means dishes like panang are made with just meat and sauce instead of adding vegetables like so many other Thai restaurants offer. However the customer wants it, though, is owner Nunthaporn Treekamol’s priority. “The customer is No. 1,” she says.
Thai is the only Far Eastern cuisine where the diner chooses the heat level. “Thai food is not all spicy,” says Nunthaporn. The restaurant offers 4 levels of heat: mild, medium, spicy, and Thai spicy. Thai food is known for its inclusion of three to five central tastes in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Nunthaporn’s Jungle Curry is known for its heat, but there are plenty of milder choices available.
Key flavors in Thai food include garlic, galangal, coriander/cilantro, lemongrass, Thai basil, coconut milk, shallots, pepper, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and chilies. Palm sugar is used to sweeten dishes, while lime and tamarind contribute sour notes. Cucumber, often served as a garnish, is sometimes used to cool the mouth after eating spicy dishes. Rice or noodles also work to balance any spiciness.
Rice is the most important part of Thai cuisine and the words for rice and food are the same: khao. Mixing rice with the flavors and textures from the different dishes served, instead of having everything all on one plate, is a traditional way of serving Thai food, though dishes are all generally served at the same time, including soup.
Nunthaporn’s is not only interested in how a dish tastes, but also in how it looks and smells. It must be working because pad khing, a popular dish, was included on a list of 100 Favorite Dishes by Phoenix New Times.