The Burlington/Elon region is very typical of an American university community. The area is home to a small, intimate society and an energetic campus life. Surprisingly to visitors of this area there is a number of Thai and Southeast Asian restaurants that range from traditional Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines. I choose to review and dine at the three establishments in town that can be considered actual Thai restaurants. From my experiences growing up in South East Asia, I was able to ascertain the quality of the dishes that were served. In order to help future students that are new to the area I have rated the following restaurants from one to five, five being the most authentic Thai culinary experience to one being a poor imitation. I factored in the availability of authentic Thai entrees, the pleasantness of the dining environment as well as the friendliness of the staff.
Simply Thai is one of the top choices of Elon students. Located a few blocks from Elon on Haggard Avenue, Simply Thai offers a diverse array of Thai and Laotian dishes for patrons. The daily lunch special includes an affordable $6.95 price range for Pad Thai, Pho Noodle soup and several curry dishes. The owner, Vonne Keobouala was available to say that all food was made in house, as in no canned goods or preservatives. This establishment is recommended for the casual diner or individuals looking for a healthy alternative diet. Due to the regional delicacies native to the Thai/Laotian border areas and the excellent service I rate this restaurant four out of five.
Anna Thai is considered to be one of the most affordable Thai restaurant experiences by the Elon student body. Located on S. Church Street near B. Christopher’s this establishment also offers a wide variety of dinner entrees ranging from Tom Yum soup to Chicken Satay with prices In the $6.99-$7.99 range. They also feature a full service buffet with a selection that consists almost entirely of chicken dishes. While the service was very good the interior was reminiscent of airport waiting lobby or a restroom, which is to say that this is not the most romantic place to take a spouse or significant other. Due to the affordable dinner options and the less than satisfactory dining area and staff I would rate this establishment three out of five.
Thai Similun is another authentic Thai establishment that also incorporates influences from Thai, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese food on their menu. It is arguably the most genuine Thai experience in driving distance of Elon’s campus. It has also been my personal favorite since undergraduate studies. Thai Similun, formerly known as Dan Thai to past students, offers an affordable lunch menu as well as a laid back atmosphere. This restaurant or rather institution offers the best green curry in town as well as Saigon Noodles and Pad Se-ew, all for the reasonable price of $7.95. As with Simply Thai, the ingredients are guaranteed fresh. This restaurant, with its welcoming ambiance and friendly staff, is a must for large families and/or groups of friends. This communal gathering spot should be considered the best Thai restaurant for both regional newcomers and current residents, I would give this business a five out of five.