Despite its modern interior and original menu, Thai Peacock has been in Portland since 1999. Located downtown on SW 9th, Thai Peacock has long been a Lewis & Clark favorite. It is clear that their Pacific Northwest take on classic Thai favorites is still thriving in Portland’s experimental food scene.
Before even mentioning the food, there are several reasons to choose Thai Peacock when you are looking for a spot downtown. The location is perfect; it is near Powell’s and several small shops and bars, serving as a nice jumping-off point for an evening spent downtown. Additionally, I have gone with a group of seven on a Friday night without any reservation, and they were still able to accommodate us within seconds. The staff is incredibly friendly and efficient, making sure that food and drinks get out quickly. The design of the restaurant is stylish and comfortable; there are candles, string lights and a lofted area. Despite the busy nature of this establishment, it still feels cozy wherever you sit.
For those of you who are 21 or over, I would recommend selecting an item from their cocktail menu. With drinks like the Asian plum sangria, raspberry mojito, blackberry margarita, and lychee martini, it is difficult for anyone to choose a favorite. I will say that you should not suspect a weak drink; they are both delightfully sweet and strong, so plan accordingly.
Over the course of my visits, I have tried some incredible dishes. As far as appetizers go, try the house combo if you are with a group. The gyoza, vegan egg rolls, tofu salad roll, coconut prawns and cream cheese wontons are all well done classics paired with appropriate sauces. The chicken teriyaki meatballs are a favorite of mine, as they contain the perfect ratio of sweetness to spice. Their pineapple chili sauce, house plum sauce and tamarind peanut sauce are particularly impressive. They value balance in their dishes, as they often pair fruity or vegetal flavors with just enough bite and umami to round them out.
As far as entrees go, there are really no bad options. If you are coming here for the first time I would without a doubt suggest ordering the pad thai and crispy trout, although many dishes are paired with the crispy trout. The trout is an extremely generous portion, and the sweet aioli that accompanies it is creamy and bitter and accentuates the savory crunch of the trout’s exterior perfectly. The pad thai is fantastic but can be just as easily substituted with one of their delicious fried rice dishes. They offer garlic fried rice and basil fried rice. I am partial to the garlic fried rice, but both come with fresh vegetables and are saturated with mix-ins, such as raisins and herbs.
If you opt for curry instead I would recommend the matsaman curry. It contains a generous helping of vegetables and a wonderful peanut flavor; my only regret is that I did not get it with enough heat the first time. Even if you are not confident with your spice tolerance like me, go for the spicy option, if you do not specify you will get medium spice by default. Thai Peacock clearly pays great attention to their sauces and how they interact with other flavors on the plate so let your meal get messy and experience some wonderful new taste combinations.
Thai Peacock is a comfortable spot downtown with an expertly developed menu. They are often easily able to accommodate different dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Moreover, their menu makes it easy to discern whether a dish adheres to your dietary needs. Overall the restaurant is comfortable, affordable, authentic and accessible.