city fare
Nov. 30, 2004

Thai comfort food
by Lisa Waterman Gray

What I most remember about my visits to The Thai Place, 4130 Pennsylvania, was the camaraderie and the food.

Throughout each visit our waiters served unobtrusively as they refilled our alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, deftly whisked away and replaced plates, and asked if we needed anything else at just the right moment.

On a rainy October afternoon, Volcano Soup $6.95, $7.95 or $8.95, with chicken, shrimp or mixed seafood seemed like the perfect way to start a meal. Rick and I asked for medium seasoning and then we shared an enormous bowl. Lemongrass, Keffir lime and sliced button mushrooms, tomatoes and onions combined with cilantro, red pepper flakes and chicken slices – almost too large for a spoon – packed a tolerable heat that made my nose sweat.

The Thai Place, authentic Thai food in a convivial atmosphere.
(photo by Jessica Chapman)

My Thai Ice Coffee with cream $1.95 cooled things down a bit.

The tall iced drink recalled a Black Russian sans the alcohol. Larry and Lee Ann accompanied my husband Mark and me on our evening visit. We started with Roasted Duck Basil Rolls $8.95 and Chicken Satays $6.95. A distinctly different peanutinfused sauce accompanied each one. A reddishbrown, slightly sweet hoisin peanut sauce combined soybeans with chile peppers and garlic, and provided a wonderful counterpoint to the duck rolls, while a smooth, peanutcolored sauce with a slight afterburn accompanied the satays.

The bambooskewered satays were perfectly seasoned, perfectly grilled, perfectly moist and perfectly divine. A small salad of sliced cucumber and red onion in a sweet and vinegar sauce completed the plate.

Served at room temperature, the delicate Roasted Duck Bail Rolls were full of duck bits the texture of scallops, chopped greens and crispfresh basil leaves and flavor. They arrived on a bed of light green cabbage shreds.

Other appetizer offerings include Miniature Garlic Pork Ribs $6.95, Pan Fried Jumbo Crab Cakes $13.95, Cream Cheese Summer Rolls $7.95, Tiger Cry Beef $7.95 or Stuffed Chicken Wings $9.95. I might also order Chicken Galango Soup $8.95, bowl; $10.95, pot or Thai Beef Stew Soup $9.95, bowl; $11.95, pot.

It's not easy choosing from an entree menu that includes12 seafood dishes, eight "favorites," four curries, dozens of stirfries and 10 rice and noodle dishes. But we finally made some decisions. I ordered a classic dish, Shrimp Phad Thai $11.95. It included delicate rice noodles, scrambled egg, bean sprouts and cabbage with small shrimp. I asked for mild seasoning and got almost no discernable heat, but this dish could definitely pass for Thai comfort food.

Marks Spicy Seafood Lemongrass $19.95 combined shrimp with scallops, mussels, squid shredded crab and oriental vegetables in a pale brown garlicflavored sauce. Created to present a medium heat, there was very little evident. Cucumber, tomato and onion slices, and medium shrimp accompanied juicy, perfectly cooked pineapple chunks in Larrys Thai Sweet and Sour Shrimp $18.95. Red pepper added subtle heat to the light brown gravy.

We sampled King & Ann Chicken $7.95 for lunch, $13.95 for dinner during both visits. When The Thai Place opened on 87th Street, in 1991, this menu item jumped directly from the kitchen of co-owner Arun Ann Liberda, to the restaurant menu, as did many other dishes. Ted Liberda, co-owner, and manager of the Westport location, said the dish was named in honor of Thailands king and his mother.

A deep brown rum and garlic-laced sauce enveloped shiitake mushroom and large chicken slices. At lunch the dish was overly salty, with a bit more ginger than in the dinner serving. Generous scoops of jasmine rice and two Crab Rangoon accompanied our lunch entrees.

Patrons may also choose a salad or wonton soup. Our salads featured iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, carrot, cabbage gratings, crushed peanuts and a sweet dressing with a subtle bite. I ordered Yellow Curry Seafood $9.95, with shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid, celery, fulllength leaves of Napa cabbage, bell peppers and onions. The menu also said there was crab in this dish. I was disappointed to find surimi mock crabmeat instead. But the curry sauce was simultaneously mellow and flavorful.

We satisfied our evening sweet tooth with the Thai Place Dessert Plate $9.95. This offering provided more than enough food, even with four of us sharing.

There was soft banana wrapped in an equally soft breading, sweet fried wonton topped with rich, homemade coconut ice cream and then doused in a chocolate glaze, and coconut custard – a dense, seductive dessert square that tasted of caramel.

Mark and I hadnt lingered over dinner with friends for two hours in months. But our evening at The Thai Place flew as we shared stories and dishes.

The Thai Place 4130 Pennsylvania Kansas City, Mo. 816-753-8424 *Additional locations: 9359 Santa Fe Drive, 11838 Quivira Road, 7th Street and Walnut and 734 NW 7 Highway LUNCH/DINNER: Mon.Thurs., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ratings: Food *** Service *** Atmosphere *** Price $$$

The Thai Place

4130 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO


Additional Locations

9359 Santa Fe Drive
11838 Quivira Road
7th Street and Walnut
734 NW 7 Highway

LUNCH: Mon. – Thurs., 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Fri. – Sat., 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sun., 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


Ratings: (out of four stars)

FOOD ***
PRICE  $$$

Key: $-under $10 • $$-$10 to $20 • $$$-over $20

fork, knife, spoon


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