Restaurant Review - Surin's Thai Bowl & Sushi
Decisions, decisions: Surin's knows noodles Surin has expanded once again — this time in its own back yard. Located just a few steps from the original, Surin's Thai Bowl & Sushi Bar serves up hot, hearty broths and curries in a hurry. The space was retrieved and refurbished after at least two failed restaurants packed up and left. But Surin's is making sure it gets noticed. The garish blue, red and chrome exterior can easily be seen while motoring on North Highland. But indoors, the space isn't as cozy as the big house. I felt like I was sitting in a retrofitted, portable public school classroom (except that most trailers don't have a sushi bar and elephant-god statues). The deck offers a cluster of more appealing tables.Big broth: Choice is the name of the game when it comes to the noodle bowls (starting at $6). Pick a broth — mushroom and ginger, chicken and lemongrass, beef and mushroom — and a noodle — ba-mee (Thai egg-pasta), flat rice (imported from Thailand), thin rice (Thai vermicelli). Choose up to three vegetables; the list includes snow peas, asparagus, straw mushrooms, napa cabbage, spinach and enoki mushrooms. Vegetarians can stop right there and be thoroughly satisfied. Or add more veggies for $1 more, tofu for $2, or a variety of seafood, beef and pork for $3. Recommended: mushroom and ginger broth with ba-mee, asparagus, shitake mushrooms, roasted eggplant and marinated pork loin ($9).More bowls: If you don't like making decisions, there is an entire section of the menu dedicated to standard bowls. The cheapest, the chicken noodle bowl ($6.50), should top your list the next time you've got the sniffles. Lemon curry sauce is heaped with grilled chicken breast, rice noodles and fresh ginger. I prefer the Chaeng Mai noodle ($8.50) with its beef strips, coconut milk, red curry, lime juice, hot peppers, rice, crispy noodles, pickled mustard and sliced hardboiled egg. None of us could finish our bowls in one sitting. If noodles aren't your thing, there's a chicken penang bowl and spicy basil rice bowl (both $8.50). With so many choices, the kitchen isn't really open to meat changes in the main entrees; when it says chicken, you get chicken. The lack of flexibility seemed a bit unusual for such a casual locale.Small plates: A big list of appetizers is offered at $5 a plate. A mix of the soothing and the fiery, the spicy green papaya salad is served with tasty, crispy beef jerky sticks. There's also a spicy catfish salad or spicy pork with bitter melon. If you want something with less kick, there's the beautifully wrapped macadamia chicken — chunks of marinated boneless meat swaddled in macadamia nut leaves and served with a sweet-and-sour soy molasses sauce. Finish it all off with a bowl of homemade coconut ice cream ($2.50).