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Mini-reviews: Little Thai and Minado

We managed to find two new dining spots in one weekend, and enjoyed both of them.

Little Thai
On Friday, February 6th, we visited Little Thai, located in the shopping center at 220 Sandy Springs Cir NW. We each had an order of basil rolls as an appetizer; I had vegetarian panang curry, and my husband had a noodle dish (I'm not at home writing this, so I can't check the menu to verify the name). We split fried ice cream for dessert.

The restaurant's interior is inviting, with warm yellow walls, painted golden wood, and tables inset with beans, pasta, and other dried foods in decorative patterns under glass. The staff is friendly and attentive; I never once had to ask for my hot tea to be refilled, and food delivery was prompt without being rushed. They bill themselves as being healthy Thai cuisine, but the menu options didn't seem any different in that regard from the dishes I usually see available in Thai restaurants (pad Thai, masaman curry, etc.), unless I missed something, so it may just be marketing.

Thai Diner remains my favorite Thai restaurant in Atlanta: I've tried almost everything on the menu there, and can say it's consistently good. Their sauce for the basil rolls is also more to my liking: it seems a hair less sweet, and is garnished with chopped peanuts. Additionally, as I recall, the rolls are just a tad larger.

However, Little Thai is no slouch: what I really liked was the clear articulation of flavor and in each dish. The blanched green beans were vividly bright and crunchy against the creamy golden curry; the ginger was tangy and fresh. With two appetizers, two entrees, and a split dessert, I think the bill was just under $35. I'll definitely go back. Their takeout menu indicates that they also do delivery in a limited area.

Minado

Saturday the 7th, we'd had a latish brunch, so we kind of skipped our midday meal, and had an early dinner.

I'm sure most of you have seen the food troughs (for lack of a better term) that have gone up around the metro-Atlanta area: giant Asian buffets, generally Chinese, but some Japanese, filled with rows and rows of hot and cold dishes from soup to dessert. I typically avoid them like I avoid people with logorrhea, which is to say I make a concerted effort, because 9.5 times out of 10 they range from mediocre to downright awful, emphasizing quantity over quality. However, we were pretty hungry, and the interior of the place was clean and bright, so we took a chance.

I'm glad we did. The offerings were completely unexpected: there was a hibachi that we didn't even get to try; we were distracted by the beautiful sushi: never in my life have I seen uni (sea urchin) on a buffet. Heck, you can't always find it in restaurants specializing in sushi, and it's one of my favorites. They had sashimi and nigiri. The maki were various, plentiful, and well-made; no sloppy loose rice there. Freshly cooked snow crab legs, fresh raw oysters on the half shell; shrimp cocktail . . . and as if the sushi bar were not enough, there were numerous salads: octopus salad, cucumber salad, seaweed salad, edamame . . . more than I can recall to name.

That was just one part of the restaurant. On the other side was a full bar with hot offerings: tempura, lobster (yes, lobster), crab served in various ways (I liked the crab shu mai), miso soup, pork . . . one could easily make a complete meal just from this steam table. The dessert table was just as big, with little green tea cakes, sections of tiramisu cake, fresh fruit, and other petits-fours.

And our server . . . I have to mention our server. She was hilarious. Incredibly motherly and funny; very extroverted. We were the only people in her section when we arrived (more came later), and we got lots of attention. She kept pouring us shots of sake as soon as we'd emptied the previous ones, and kept encouraging my husband to go eat -- she even brought him one of the lobsters, because she was worried that he wouldn't get up to get it himself and that he would miss it. *laughs* I wish I'd gotten her name; she was very entertaining.

Was it the most remarkable meal I've ever had in my life? No, but I would say that Minado is far and away the best restaurant of its kind in the metro-Atlanta area. It would be a fun place to take a group, and they can do karaoke if desired. I think it was around $27.95 per person? I didn't see the actual bill, but in my opinion, it was worth it for the sushi alone.

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