118 N. Tustin Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92807
Mon-Sat 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
It is my opinion that Thai Lingo serves the best Thai food in Orange County. Actually, it's not just my opinion, but the opinion of everyone that I ate there with. Located in a dilapidated strip mall near the Orange/Anaheim border, between the 55 and 91 freeways, Thai Lingo resides in such an unassuming space that I've driven past it many times without even seeing the place. I was introduced to Thai Lingo by a friend one day, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
I pulled into Thai Lingo last Saturday night with my standard party of four. The strip mall that houses Thai Lingo is so seedy looking that I thought twice before pulling out my iPhone to take a picture of the entrance. This place is the definition of "hole-in-the-wall". The dingy exterior though, ensures that Thai Lingo's rent can stay low so that their prices can remain among the most affordable I've come across in OC. Never fear, once inside you will find yourself in a clean, comfortable environment with friendly staff.
We were offered the option of a large table that could easily seat eight, or a smaller table that was set for four. We chose the smaller table because we felt it was unnecessary to sit at such a large table. The waitress handed us some menus and took our drink order. We all ordered plain ice water. They do however offer both wine and beer here, as well as Thai beverages like Sing-Ha (Thai beer) and Thai iced tea.
We started looking over the menu and everybody started picking out a lot of items that they wanted. I'd been here before, but I was introducing this place to the other three for the first time. It was exciting to watch everyone ooh and ahh over the wide variety of dishes that Thai Lingo offers. My eyes however, zeroed in on my favorite dish here, the spicy garlic beef. Almost every dish on the menu states the "style" of the dish. You then have the option on most of the dishes, to order that dish with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or vegetarian. We decided to order family style so we could all try as many dishes as possible. Our final order looked like this-
Spicy Garlic Beef ($6.95)
Green Vegetarian Curry ($6.95)
Gra-Pow Fried Rice with Tofu ($6.95)
Noodle Gra-pow with Shrimp ($7.95)
Pad Gra-pow with Pork ($6.95)
They don't have a standard numbering system for spiciness here like some Thai restaurants do. Since all four of us really enjoy spicy food, I told the waitress that we didn't want our food as spicy as they could make it, but maybe a notch or two below. I said, "On a scale of 1-5, give us a 4. On a scale of 1-10 give us an 8".
Our food arrived along with a large bowl of steamed rice. We all eagerly filled our plates with the piping hot food and dove in. We all came to the same conclusion almost instantaneously. We had made a mistake. My wife almost started crying, Isabel's eyes started to water and turn red, Tim started sniffling up a storm and I started to break a sweat. This food was SPICY! Maybe we should have just asked for the standard level of spiciness. We all usually eat really spicy food, but Thai chilis are so spicy, they'll singe the hair right off you. However, even though this food was really spicy, it was so delicious that we couldn't stop eating it. We "ate through the pain" and consumed almost every last bite of food on the table.
Everything was fantastic. The green curry was made with bamboo shoots, basil and coconut milk. The coconut milk added some sweetness to the dish that helped to counteract some of the spiciness. The gra-pow fried rice was stir fried with hot chilis and fresh basil. It was delicious and not overly greasy like a lot of fried rices tend to be. The noodle gra-pow, also known as "noodle khee mao"), was made with flat noodles stir fried with basil, garlic and hot chilis. It was topped off with juicy, succulent shrimp. The pad gra-pow (Wow....we ordered a lot of "gra-pow" dishes, didn't we...) was made with juicy pieces of pork, fresh chilis, bell pepper, garlic and basil leaves.
My favorite dish here, the spicy garlic beef, is made with beef that is marinated in garlic, pepper and soy sauce. Slightly sweet and full of flavor, this dish really packs a punch. The three of us that tried it, (my wife didn't, due to her vegetarianism) all raved at the flavor, texture and overall "yummyness" of the dish.
The service here was also excellent. The waitress was friendly and helpful, (she actually warned us that Thai chilis were really spicy but I told her I knew what I was doing) and she always made sure that our water glasses were refilled in a timely matter. Always important when you're eating food this spicy.
After dinner we were full and satisfied. Some of us though had our stomachs screaming at us for filling them with fire in the form of food. Yes, it was a little too spicy (my fault for ordering it that way) but it was still the best Thai food that any of us had ever had. We were all in agreement on that. I am confident that we will return to Thai Lingo over and over again. We'll just have to make sure to order it less spicy in the future.