The aggressively-redeveloped University Place shopping center, at University Drive and Research Park Boulevard, has spawned another delightful surprise. Big Bowl Thai, on the west side of the development, looks (and sounds), from the outside, like a place where counter people will bark at you to hand over your cash and grab your take-out and go snarf it somewhere far away. It’s not that at all. It’s a pleasant, well-finished, full service restaurant. You’ll walk out surprised at the refined experience hiding behind the front façade.
The boys and I stopped by one Saturday for lunch. Aaron wasn’t sure what to make of a “Thai place,” but knowing what I knew of his palate, I assured him he’d find something he wanted to have.
Nathan and Aaron each had a lunch box. Aaron had salmon, and Nathan had beef teriyaki. They were artfully presented with rice, salad, and California roll. Both boys enjoyed them, and the bite I had of Aaron’s salmon was fresh and appealingly crispy. In the $8-10 range, these are an excellent value.
Some Like It Hot
Having a perpetually spicy monkey on my back, I eyed the various curries available. Laying myself out for wanton abuse, I said “what is the spiciest thing here?” My server responded “well…none of these are extremely spicy as ordered.” I said “what would you have?” And she smiled and said “well, the panang curry is excellent if you get it spicy.”
“I want the panang curry the way you would have it.”
“Are you sure? Thai hot?”
And so it was—a $9 delight. And I didn’t find it unmanageably hot, but I did find it worthy of some considerable attention. Tread carefully with the words “Thai hot” here. The panang curry was presented as all of the bowls are, with rice, spring rolls, and salad on the side. It was outstanding, and I’m looking forward to having it again.
Other offerings include Thai noodle soups, entrée salads, and specialties like Thai iced tea and coffee. (These come with ample cream and sugar and are tasty indeed.) Traditional desserts, including fried banana and green tea ice cream, are available.
For the Kids
Big Bowl Thai has highchairs and booster seats available for smaller children. Restrooms are clean single-seaters, but they do not include changing tables. The children’s menu includes several $5 choices that are kid-friendly versions of regular menu items, like chicken kutsu, salmon teriyaki, and fried rice. They’re really accessible offerings, but if Junior hasn’t yet graduated from chicken fingers and mac & cheese, you might have a little salesmanship on deck.
Everything here, whether on the lunch or dinner menu, is in the $10-20 range. One more note for the savvy consumer — the paper copies of the Big Bowl Thai menu, available on the front door of the restaurant, contain numerous coupons of significant value. This isn’t a particularly pricey place to begin with, but there are several opportunities here to make it cost even less.
That a place like Big Bowl Thai appears and thrives in Huntsville is indicative of our size. We are rapidly closing on half a million people in our metropolitan area! This is a Good Thing for international cuisines — and if we’re going to draw so many, then competition shall ensure excellence. Big Bowl Thai should be on your list as a solid Thai restaurant in western Huntsville. I’ll see you there.
Big Bowl Thai
Location: University Place, 6125 University Drive, Huntsville (map)
Hours: Monday—Thursday; Saturday 11am – 9pm | Friday 11am – 9:30pm | Friday 11:30am – 8pm
Big Bowl Thai on Facebook
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