Grub Scout: Bearden's Surin of Thailand gets creative with spicy flavors

Surin of Thailand

Photo by Angela Allen

Surin of Thailand

Surin of Thailand

Photo by Angela Allen

Surin of Thailand

Surin of Thailand

Photo by Angela Allen

Surin of Thailand

Surin of Thailand

Photo by Angela Allen

Surin of Thailand

Surin of Thailand

Photo by Angela Allen

Surin of Thailand

Surin of Thailand

Our rating:

Bearden - Knoxville

Asian

6213 Kingston Pike

865-330-0007

More Details »

Critic's star breakdown

  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 4.5
  • Overall: 4.5

Sometimes serendipity leads to good things. The Grub Spouse and I arrived at an intended restaurant destination last week, only to discover upon seeing it in person that it was drive-through only. That was a no-go.

I had to think on the fly of a backup but had a vague notion that something new had recently opened in Bearden. Cruising down the Pike, sure enough, we came across Surin of Thailand, in the building where Tao and Sobu used to be. We would later learn that Surin is run by completely different ownership than its predecessors and that it is the newest in a modestly sized chain of Thai restaurants in the Southeast.

The interior of the space is predominantly unchanged since my previous two visits. But it’s still a favorite of mine thanks to a modern, well-designed lighting scheme and an Asian theme that is suggested through a room divider made of large bamboo trunks and a couple of oversize pieces of Buddhist-looking statuary.

The cuisine is indeed Thai-centric, but there is also a sushi bar on one side of the primary dining space. As such, the menu also features a number of Japanese offerings, including sushi roll combos, nigiri, maki, sashimi, seaweed salad and edamame.

The Thai selections are segregated into appetizers, soups and salads, noodle and rice dishes, curries, stir-fry meats and a section of special entrees, which is where The Spouse and I focused most of our attention.

We started, however, with an appetizer — Surin baskets — six small pastry cups filled with a unique mixture of shrimp, corn, chicken, onion and cilantro. These were served warm with a light honey-peanut cucumber sauce for dipping. The corn was the predominant flavor we detected, but we both greatly appreciated this starter, choosing it over more traditional appetizer fare like egg rolls or crab wontons.

Back to the entrees. I seriously considered several of the options, including the Thai sea bass, ka proud lamb chops, and especially the Tiger Cry — a 15-ounce rib-eye marinated in Thai spices and served in a hot sauce with steamed vegetables. The only thing that dissuaded me from this was that I had just had a steak over the weekend, and I also wasn’t up for taking on a 15-ounce cut.

Instead, I sent with the spicy mixed seafood, which received the menu’s highest spiciness ranking — three peppers. Consisting of New Zealand mussels, scallops, shrimp and squid, this looked too good to pass up. The Spouse decided to try the Thai barbecue chicken, which is a half chicken that’s marinated overnight in sauce, slow roasted and char-grilled, and served with shrimp-fried rice.

We were impressed with both selections. At $19, the seafood medley was a generous assortment of ocean goodies, including small pieces of fried fish that hadn’t been ID’d on the menu. The mussels were especially wonderful, and all items were enhanced but not overpowered by spices that I didn’t deem excessive by any stretch.

The chicken, $13, was tender, succulent and bursting with Thai barbecue flavor, and our respective sides of fried and steamed rice were worthy complements.

We wrapped up with a homemade brownie creation topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and nuts — which made us more grateful than ever for our dumb luck.

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