Aroy Thai Cuisine

The tiny college town of Manhattan, Kansas, has an astonishing number of diverse, good-quality restaurants for a 40,000-person population (20,000 if you don’t count the students). One of the most surprising finds is a place called Aroy Thai Cuisine — not because Thai food can usually be sketchy at best but because the establishment looks like complete and utter crap from the outside. The building has to be from the early 60s and looks like it hasn’t been touched since about then either. Paint is peeling off the walls (which are white, so you can see the dirt collecting), the roof is missing a few shingles, and overall the place just looks dingy and thoroughly unappetizing. However, all of that changes once you step inside. The restaurant is incredibly clean, albeit it doesn’t do anything much differently from other Asian inspired restaurants. You know what I mean — the fake plants, Asian-inspired pottery (usually faux gold), dim lighting — the kind of decorations you’d expect to find at your grandparent’s house. Despite all the faults in its appearance, the one area Aroy Thai truly shines is where it counts — the food.

Simply put, Aroy Thai has the best Thai food I have ever tasted. Now, my experience with Thai cuisine is rather limited, but I do know enough about food to know when it’s good, and Aroy Thai is exceptional.

My meal started off with an appetizer of crab rangoon (I know, not technically Thai, but I can’t pass up good crab rangoon when I see it). The rangoon was served with Aroy Thai’s house sauce, which tasted like a mix of plum and sweet and sour. These were some of the best crab rangoon I’ve ever had, impeccably fried with the perfect amount of filling. The sauce was the icing on the cake, mixing effortlessly with the rangoon to create the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

For my entrees, which I split with my guest, I ordered chicken paad thai and peanut-potato curry with pork and extra spice (I like my curry on hot side). The paad thai was fantastic. The spices on it were the right amount of hot and the bean sprouts and crushed peanuts that garnished the dish created a great texture departure from the creamy noodles and sauce. My curry was also delicious. served on a bed of rice, the curry was spicy enough to start my eyes tearing up almost immediately, which is just the way I like it. The chunks of potatoes were the most interesting part of the dish, combining with the whole peanuts and chewy chicken to produce a mouthwatering, concoction. The potatoes also served to counteract the spiciness of the dish, which was much appreciated every few bites.

If you’re ever in Manhattan and looking for great Thai food, look no further than Aroy Thai. Don’t be fooled by its outside appearance. You will not regret stepping inside and trying out some of the great dishes this restaurant conceives. Overall, a fantastic, unexpected foodie experience in small town Kansas.

Score: 8.5/10

 

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