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“The Real McCoy”

Isan Thai Restaurant
Ranked #59 of 1,029 Restaurants in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$11 - US$29
Cuisines: Asian, Thai
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Cheap Eats, Special Occasion Dining, Child-friendly, Kids
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: Isan Thai Restaurant features authentic cuisine from the Northeast region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia known as Isan. Owner Koong brings her home recipes to Isan Thai Restaurant, featuring items like Nham Clook that you will not find elsewhere. Isan Thai Restaurant celebrates the culture and tradition of Isan, with its delicious food, captivating folk dances, and the beautiful sounds of Thai country music. We have a separate lounge featuring quality beer and wine, an Isan/Thai-themed dining area, and outdoor dining.
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
124 reviews
82 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“The Real McCoy”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 December 2013 credit card Amex Cardmember Review

This restaurant offers many dishes not normally found in your typical American/Thai restaurant. Try the home made Thai grilled Sausages for an appetizer. Green Papaya salad not found in any other restaurant in Sarasota. It is spicy but so good.The crispy duck with Basil is excellent as is the snapper in Chili's. Staff is super pleasant and they also have a large selection of craft beers.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
Thank Jack C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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244 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    164
    55
    17
    8
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
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English first
New York
Level Contributor
218 reviews
93 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 169 helpful votes
“Still a (mostly) hidden gem”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 November 2013

I've been here twice (dining in) and done take-out twice as well, since they opened in 2012. I've found the pad Thai - my usual benchmark for a new Thai restaurant - quite nice, authentic (with real pad noodles and Thai spices rather than linguine, as some lesser places use), and flavorful. There's the peanut and seasoning flavors one expects, and I've always been pleased, usually with the seafood combination, but tonight trying the chicken, and spicy by request. We also sampled 2 appetizers, one of which I've never seen before (boasting home-made Thai sausage).

Tonight was a Saturday evening, the week before Thanksgiving week. Maybe it's a bit 'in between' surges of tourists heading down for Winter break, people traveling for Thanksgiving, and snowbirds returning for the winter, but despite the several reviews (and past experience) which describe the place as often busy and hectic, tonight wasn't like that. It was half full with diners and one person waiting for take-out order, chatting with a hostess, He turned to me when I commented on how tonight seemed quite mellow for a Saturday night, and said, "I live just across the street and was wondering if the restaurant had fallen on hard times, since it's not so busy ... it's upsetting because people should know this is the best Thai food around." I would agree. It's not only comparable with Thai restaurants in large cities (like New York) but there are some 'different' dishes shared here along with the classics like curries and pad Thai.

Sampling the Sai Aour (Thai sausage) appetizer was a bit of a new experience, Thai-wise. It consisted of several slices of pungent and soft sausage in a sauce which smelled like purified essence of Thai, somewhere between plum sauce, soy, and sweet seasonings. Served with lettuce and a sticky rice, it was tasty, and 'different' (from usual Thai menus). We also tried the appetizer of "Fresh Roll" with Shrimp. This was interesting to see, as it's wrapped in a translucent skin so that one can see the carrots and other ingredients within. It was fresh-made and wholesome, served with a plum sauce. My only minor gripe here is that the inside ingredients, while fresh, were somewhat bland for my taste. (The sausage, on the other hand, was not only pungent but had a slight zing to it.) Some may very much like the un-spiced 'natural' ingredients, but personally I'll return next time 'round to my old stand-by, the "Spring Roll" for a bit more flavor.

Making up for the not-so-spicy Fresh Roll, was the *very* spicy Pad Thai, with chicken. They asked, 'medium' or 'spicy', hot? I said spicy and she asked again so I confirmed: "Thai spicy". Be warned: it was! I love Vietnamese and Indian and Hunan spicy food, and am used to it being toned down in tourist spots including the Gulf Coast. But this was mighty spicy (as in, pass the water again please). Now I know. It was fine, but because there are so many other spices (including the peanut flavor) which got a bit stepped on by the fiery spice, next time I'll probably settle for 'just hot' as opposed to blazing hot. Others may want to go with the 'mild' or medium. Anyway, they will ask, and accommodate your spice wish, from mild to super-spicy.

Not much else to add. It's been one year since I posted a review of this then-7-months-old restaurant, and it's as it was - popular with locals, and remembered by some (in the reviews) for how crowded it can get at times. I'd say it's worth at least one visit, possibly many more if you get hooked. For Thai in Sarasota, there are maybe 3 great restaurants, and this one is among them. It's in the South of Sarasota, right off the trail (41S), in a tiny little strip mall. Coming from the South (Osprey) it's hard to see but u-turn back across the street at Constitution Ave. and it's right there. One of a few keepers in my book, when I'm in town.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
Thank drmikenyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarasota
1 review
“Best bowl of curry in town..........”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 September 2013

Superb Thai Restraunt. My favorite Thai dish is Panang Curry, the dish at Isan is absolutely full of fresh vegetables and is prepared with love. I have dined there 6 or 8 times and its always just as good as the time before.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Dwayne R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rockaway, New Jersey
Level Contributor
107 reviews
61 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Amazing Thai Food”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 September 2013

We were in town for a short family vacation and stumbled upon this place (sorry, used a different website!). Frankly we were surprised it was not rated higher on Trip Advisor. The service was great and the food was delicious. We had the Sai Aour (Thai Sausage) as one of our appetizers and it was so good. We've never had that before in any Thai restaurant in the greater NYC area where we live. We will be going back there every time we visit Sarasota. YUM!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank SpartanGirl3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bradenton, FL
Level Contributor
227 reviews
99 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 449 helpful votes
“A great Thai meal”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 August 2013

Went to this restaurant after I overheard a woman in Trader Joe's begin to panic when she called them for a takeout order and they were slow in answering. She was worried they were not open.

We made a beeline to Isan Thai and we are so glad we did. The food was fresh, the vegetables were prepared an hour before we arrived. Service was great. This, plus Thai Wasabi in adjacent Bradenton, set us for GREAT Thai food when we want it.

One slight negative; It was very chilly in the dining room. I actually went over an turned down an overhead fan to make it more tolerable.

But this Thai food is good.....very good. We both had lunch specials and our bill, with tea and a soft drink, was $30, with tip, for two. GO!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank BarefootTom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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