King & I – One of Atlanta’s Oldest Thai Restaurants & Still One of the Best
by Chloe Morris
This is another place I grew up eating at. There were only a handful of Thai restaurants then and this and Thai of Norcross were among the first successful ones. I remember back in the late 80s, a group of (MBA) students were waiting tables here and my mom told me (in hush-hush tones) that one of them had married the divorced owner. My mom spared me all the details, after all, I was only in my preteens. But the good looking student became manager of the place and after many years, opened another Thai place on VaHi. The owner passed away a decade ago and his brother (a co-owner) has been left to manage King & I while the wife tended to the one on VaHi. Incidentally, two of the MBA students opened a Thai place of their own but more on that later on.
King & I isn’t necessarily the most authentic Thai in the city. But the food (quality and taste) has been consistently superior that you can pinpoint their dishes with your eyes closed. Service is consistently excellent as well. A must (and I mean, a must) here is the Chicken Curry Fried Rice. The rice is dry, not soggy wet, and has just the right amount of curry flavoring. The chicken pieces are tender and succulent. It’s a one-dish meal that never disappoints.
The spring rolls are made with rice paper and renders a chewy texture when fried. They’re the only Thai place in town that does it this way. The result is uniquely good with a creamy peanut sauce that goes well with the vegetarian filling. The Wonton Soup is so comforting with a clear, flavorful chicken broth.
Not on the menu, I have loved their Mongolian Beef since I was young. Don’t scoff, it’s not really Mongolian Beef, but for lack of a name, the chef has decided to name this such for me. Even at an early age, I’m known to ask chefs to make a dish for me — back then, I wanted thin slices of beef sauteed with onions, bamboo shoots, and celery in a secret brown sauce. They used to serve it over crispy rice noodles when I was young but as I grew older, I’ve decided that without is much better. This is a very good dish which I invented and I highly recommend it.
The curries, specifically the Panang Curry lacks the sweetness of authentic Southern Thai panang, but is very good, nevertheless. It is creamy, with a good sweet-spicy balance. Get it spicier as it tends to be mild.
The Pad See Ew here is fantastic. The flat rice noodles are soft and tossed with broccoli, egg, and sprouts in a mild soy-based sauce that will guarantee to make you go ‘yum’.
I have eaten literally everything on the menu and you won’t be disappointed with any of them. King & I has been an Atlanta institution. As with most ethnic restaurants, go for the food.
They make a mean Thai Iced Tea.
King & I
1510 Piedmont Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30324