Thai Esan is a small and unassuming (and easy to miss) Thai restaurant located in a strip mall on Ringgold Road in East Ridge, Tennessee.
I still have plenty of places that I need to try, but after almost 6 (SIX!!!!!) years of writing about Chattanooga restaurants there are times that I feel like I’ve been everywhere and pretty soon I’m going to run out of new places to try. Totally irrational, I know, but the truth is that I can’t be everywhere and there are always new places opening that I don’t know about (not to mention long-standing secrets that I need to be told about).
I posted on my Facebook page recently asking for my readers to tell me some new places that I needed to try. Multiple Thai spots were mentioned, which caused me and Philip to develop a craving for some noodles. It is not difficult to make us crave Thai food (by the way, will someone please open a Thai restaurant in Hixson? Please and thank you.). One of the places that was mentioned was Thai Esan, which is located on Ringgold Road near the Food Lion complex (in the strip mall where Cakemakers, Etc. is located).
Thai Esan is located in the former home of Mom’s Thai Kitchen, another spot that I was told by multiple people that I needed to try and never got around to before they closed up shop. I have no idea if there is any common thread (other than Thai food, obvi) between Mom’s and Thai Esan, but I did not want to make the same mistake twice.
We headed out to Thai Esan around 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon. There was only one other couple in the restaurant dining and several to-go orders were picked up while we were there. It’s a pretty bare-bones place…not a lot of decor, and the booths need to be reupholstered or at least patched. It was clean, though, so it was all good.
A server quickly greeted us, brought us menus, and took our drink orders. We both decided to get a Thai tea because it is just so good, and we also got an order of spring rolls (4 spring rolls per order). The spring rolls were hot and fresh and the dipping sauce sweet and just a little spicy. The Thai tea did not disappoint, with the sweet black tea spice that you expect from Thai tea and a generous splash of half-and-half.
Chattavore followers, you know that I love my pad Thai. I just can’t order anything else when I visit a Thai restaurant. I know that I should, but I like to use the excuse that if I always order pad Thai that I can be consistent with giving a review. So….I went with the pad Thai with chicken. I was not disappointed. It was a generous portion – I only ate about a third, then had more for dinner the following Monday, and Philip had the rest for lunch one day. This is a lot of food. The noodles were sweet and a little bit spicier than most pad Thai that I’ve had (though I ordered it without spice). The chicken was very thinly sliced and cooked well, but I would have liked to have had a little bit more chicken just for a balance of protein and carbs.
Like me, Philip has his usual these days, ever since discovering pad see ew at Thai Chili. Unlike me, he is a little bit braver with the spice and went for “medium”. He ordered tofu as his protein, as his visits to Hong Kong Chinese restaurant have helped him discover a love for tofu. Everything was well cooked (the tofu was a gorgeous golden brown and it did have a great flavor from the sauce). He did end up regretting the medium spice, though. Apparently Thai cooks have a little bit of a different definition of “medium” than he does, and he ended up spending much of the meal picking out little pieces of fresh red chili from the dish in order to avoid breathing fire. He did say that aside from the heat, the food was delicious.
Thai Esan is relatively quick and very casual. The food is very tasty, but be careful with the spice levels unless you know that you can handle it. The prices are pretty much on par with other Thai restaurants in the area and the portions are huge so you are likely going to get more than one meal from it.
If you’re looking for some tasty Thai food in East Ridge, give Thai Esan a try!
Thai Esan is located at 4330 Ringgold Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37412. They are open Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can call them at (423) 668-8924. They do not have a website, but you can like Thai Esan on Facebook.