NaRai Thai Restaurant

Narai Thai Restaurant

’s Thai basil chicken with rice, Massaman beef curry noodles

and traditional egg rolls.

Among the sensory appeals of Narai Thai Restaurant in Colorado Springs is the color palette created by the combination of sauces and fresh vegetables.

Besides the visual allures, tastes and aromas also factor in. Initially an off-putting smell I couldn’t identify made me leery. Fortunately, this didn’t last long and ultimately did not affect my enjoyable meal.

Compared to some of the dazzling colors on the plates, the dining room is dark and otherwise nondescript. The menu features several curries, stir fries, Thai fried rice, noodle options and seafood. Most include a choice of protein: beef, chicken or shrimp.

After much deliberation and consultation with two servers, we decided on traditional egg rolls ($5.49), Thai basil chicken ($13.99) and Massaman beef curry noodles ($14).

The menu describes the curry noodles as “a Thai version of beef stroganoff.” Talk about a cultural combination! This was an extravagant serving of tender cubes of beef and potatoes over a bowl of egg noodles topped with crispy noodle strips and cilantro. The curry was rich and creamy.

The pale orange color is the result of dried red chile peppers combined with coconut milk and array of spices and aromatics such as cumin and lemongrass.

The curry is sweet and mild, although it is possible to elevate the heat level to medium, hot or Thai hot. I can’t imagine going beyond the medium level without losing any of the finesse of the ingredients. The crunchy noodle strips added more than texture. They also enhanced the plating — and the flavors.

Just because I liked the noodle dish so much doesn’t mean the Thai chicken was a washout. Far from it. This had more jolt when it came to spices. Dark green Thai basil is more licorice-like than other varieties and is more pungent.

When combined with a spicy garlic and red chile sauce, it can make eyes water. Fortunately, Narai’s heat amount was just right to be able to enjoy the thin slices of chicken, bright red bell peppers, vibrant verdant sugar snap peas, pieces of white onions and earthy mushrooms. This is served with a bowl of white rice (brown rice and fried rice can be ordered with an upcharge), which helps temper the piquancy.

The egg rolls, are traditional. Filled with marinated ground pork bean thread noodles, the rolled and fried wrapper splinters with each bite. A thin sweet and sour sauce with specks of red pepper flakes is served on the side.

This Rockrimmon restaurant is popular place for carry-out. People left with bags of food the entire time we sat at our table, with more entering to pick up as we were leaving. I’ll remember this takeout option in the future.

Impressively, even with the comings and goings of the nondine-in customers, staff was attentive, readily answering questions, filling water glasses and checking to see if we needed anything and that all was well. It was.

What’s lacking in the ambiance is more than compensated for by the food and service.

Narai Thai

Description: Thai cuisine for dining in or carry-out.

Location: 805 Village Center Drive

Contact: 719-531-5174, www.narai-thai.com

Prices: $12.99-$16.50 plus upcharges (dinner); $11.25- $12 lunch

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for lunch; 5 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for dinner; noon to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Detail: Credit cards accepted. Alcohol. Wi-Fi.

Favorite dishes: Mussaman beef curry noodles

Other: Gluten-free and vegan options available

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