Thai Fusion • 5369 Hwy. 90 West, Mobile 36619 • 251-287-7455
It was a Monday. We had errands. Lucas was in the front seat begging to make use of his learner’s permit and Graham was in the back begging to eat. The pool was closed, so the three of us pondered what we could make of a summer lunch opportunity. With plenty of time to kill and wide open possibilities, we started brainstorming.
Lucas and I laid out a couple of options, sensible and open minded, then we heard a grumble from behind. “I want Asian.” I knew Graham, who used to be the youngest, was going to get his way. That serious tone in his voice let me know he wasn’t going to back down, and though we were still spitting out phrases of, “How about we try …” and “What if we …,” the young man was adamant. Every suggestion was met with, “I want Asian.”
My little 11-year-old bean pole fiercely would settle for sushi or Chinese, but specifically wanted a buffet. The only Chinese buffet I knew of was absolutely atrocious, so that wasn’t happening. Lucas and I were fine with Asian, but our criteria was just as steadfast. We required that we must be able to dine in, it must be something we don’t visit regularly and it must not be any awful, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants buffet.
We drove down Cottage Hill, making stops at a couple of places, all closed on Mondays. We were striking out. I am uncertain of how or why, but suddenly we found ourselves on Highway 90 heading to Tillman’s Corner. This is where we found Thai Fusion. “That’ll work,” Graham said.
On the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but inside the vibe is pretty inviting. We sat ourselves in a booth and went straight for the drinks and gyoza ($6.95). This is one of Graham’s favorites and we usually get them fried. We prefer them to be tender with a crispy edge and these fit the bill. My boys say these are maybe the second or third best in the area. I agree.
We aren’t amateurs who stop at one appetizer. Summer rolls ($3.95 per pair) usually find their way to our table when available. We each had a couple with shrimp, of course, and found them mild and delicious, not overpowered by too much greenery. The peanut sauce was a little thick for my taste, but a shot of Sriracha and a touch of soy sauce thinned it out.
We were on a roll with the appetizers. I could tell Graham was pleased with himself for forcing the Asian hand (as if he had to twist our arms), so when it was time for his big dance, what do you think he ordered? Two California rolls ($5.95). That’s it. The menu here is chock-full of glorious sounding noodles, curry and Thai dishes, not to mention a long list of specialty rolls. And he doubles down on the simplest roll there is. The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess.
He finished both rolls without complaint.
I was very pleased with my order of pad garlic ($9.95 lunch special). This simple stir fry of broccoli, cabbage and carrots with tender chicken was topped with fried, diced garlic for a light brown contrast and an unmatched aroma. The sauce was soaked up by rice, letting all of the unpretentiousness shine. I would have no trouble ordering this again if I weren’t so excited about the rest of the offerings.
Lucas studied the menu more than any of us, but the dart he threw landed on crab fried rice ($12.95). Excellent marksmanship, son. This was nothing more than regular fried rice with eggs, onions and green onions in the usual way. Now add crab. It was too much food for my eldest, days before his sweet 16. His hearty appetite was no match, so Graham and I took advantage.
The unanimous decision was our next visit, hopefully with the rest of the family, could very easily be five orders of crab fried rice. It was so good I may try my hand making this at home.
What a success story for a lazy Monday afternoon. We were in no condition for dessert of any kind.
I would love to explore this menu a little more. A party of eight sat at the large table next to us and we got to peek at their orders. One was a large bowl of something called Yen-Ta-Fo pink noodle soup. When I say pink, it’s as pink as the famous panther. This is a new one on me.
Researching, it’s a popular dish for street vendors as well as in some Thai and Chinese restaurants. The color comes from a pickled red bean curd. This one is served with morning glory, bean sprouts, chunks of pork and fish balls along with onions and cilantro. It stands out more in person than it does on the menu.
Noting the name, there is definitely some fusion going on, maybe less of the mixing of the cuisine styles into one dish, but more of the different cuisine offered. It grants them license to serve Thai without being Thai specific. We have the Vietnamese pho, egg drop soup and orange chicken you’d find at Chinese restaurants, tuna tataki, ceviche, nigiri and more.
I often worry about menus this large that cover so much ground, but when neighboring cultures share so many ingredients, I suppose it makes execution less of a problem. Everything we had was spot on and we were well taken care of by not one, but two waitresses.
Graham had the hankering and we followed his lead. I still can’t figure out how we landed in Tillman’s Corner, but I’m glad we did. When you see it, don’t judge the book by its cover. It’s delicious on the inside. If I told the youngster we were going back tomorrow, he would be excited.
Check it out.
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