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Arharn Thai's owners expand to the west side with EIM Thai 

Appetite

click to enlarge Thai stuffed chicken wings are one of the new plates. - BRYCE CRAWFORD
  • Bryce Crawford
  • Thai stuffed chicken wings are one of the new plates.

EIM, which means "full" in the gobbling sense, is a charming new Thai restaurant located in the same shopping center as Trinity Brewing Company. The interior looks kind of like Larkburger, with lots of light wood, including a lovely wall section colored lemongrass yellow-green that features wooden rounds that look to be climbing, accented with a black floor and black or silver metal tables.

It's also a furthering of the influence of owners Doungsamorn "Pong" Peanvanvanich and Korakoch Prasertsin, whose east-side Arharn Thai location has garnered a devoted following. With EIM, Peanvanvanich recently told the Indy she both wanted to share her style of Thai and expand on what's usually found in the area.

Our exploration started with an order of peek gai yad sai, or stuffed chicken wing. The large, boneless wing arrived in three sections, a dark golden crust foreshadowing the crunch to come. Each steaming bite of ground chicken, bean-thread noodles, carrots and black mushrooms was a perfect match for the encircling fried halo, a simple sweet-and-sour sauce on the side.

Next came the kai jeew, or Thai-style omelet, and the Orange Curry Veggies. EIM has eggs down pat, with this fat, seared steak and its amber, Maillard-ed crust holding chunks of pork, all dipped in a gorgeous chili sauce — seriously, this thing was a smooth, glowing pastel orange — that kicked with deceptive, citrusy heat. The Orange Curry actually struck me more as a winter stew, especially when the optional tilapia was added. Without, it's a vegetarian paradise full of green beans, baby corn, broccoli, artfully cut carrot rounds, and some substantiative napa cabbage all perfectly cooked to still require teeth.

Another day, we started with shrimp and pork wontons, the deliciously crunchy wrapper folded over a steaming bulge of understated minced meat dipped in more sweet-and-sour sauce. Subtle, simple, satisfying.

That was followed by a dish that met as many emotional needs as hunger ones: tom kha, a lusciously oily coconut soup full of lime leaf, almost-bursting cherry tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal root, chicken and meaty mushroom slices. Each belly-filling bite nailed the requested "Thai hot," the spice level hitting me above sweating and below hiccups. Thirst was quenched with a very fun combination of Thai iced tea and lime juice, called cha ma nao, a concoction that opens with the expected flowery anise notes before exploding into the tropics.

The pad Thai ho kai is an Arharn staple — the eponymous dish wrapped in a perfect egg pouch — and I loved the skinny, but chewy, noodles packed with umami notes, and peanut and lime flavor. Tofu squares piled over the top bore a fried surface that gave way to creamy nothingness.

Heartier, but equally delicious, was a plate of pad priew wan, basically meaning sweet-and-sour stir fry. A garlicky sauce full of pineapple carries the day, joined by onions, tomato, cucumber, carrots, red bell peppers and a "hot" heat level that brings the pain. "Medium" might actually be better for those testing the waters, as we tried on a papaya som tam salad.

A riot of color, the dish offers batons of crunchy green papaya mixed with cilantro leaves, tangles of carrot, tomato slices and lettuce. Additions of shrimp, fish sauce and crushed peanuts, with ever-present lime, bring heft to the bowl of rabbit food, and satisfaction to your soul.

Thanks again, Pong.

  • Appetite

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