Who'd have thought the capital of The Hospitality State would be one of the best places to get Thai food?
Before I moved to my current location, I lived in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson is primarily known for being the capital of Mississippi and a rather small city. However, what many people don't realize is that Jackson is a heck of a food town. Although they face the usual challenges opening their doors, small, independent restaurants flourish, by and large. Along with the usual Southern fare, there are a number of other cuisines to be had. Interestingly enough, that includes some of the best Thai food I've had in any city (disclaimer: I have not yet managed to travel to Thailand, so this claim is made only in comparison to Thai food I've had across the US).
In fact, great Thai food is so ubiquitous that I even developed my own preferences for my favorite locations to eat particular dishes. Let me walk you through my favorites.
First, let's start with my favorite location for classic Pad Thai: Fusion. Specifically, the Fusion location in Madison, Mississippi, just north of Jackson. Fusion is an interesting place; they advertise that they serve Japanese and Thai cuisine, and their name would imply that they fuse the two, but really, they just have separate sections for Japanese and Thai dishes in their menu. And while their hibachi dinner is solid, the Thai side of the menu is where the real money is.
So, on to the aforementioned Pad Thai. The noodles are never overcooked or broken. Eating with chopsticks means pulling full strands of noodles out of the steaming pile. The seasoning is always on point. As many Thai restaurants do, they offer multiple spice levels, but be warned: they run on the hot side, so you may want to order one spice level below what you'd order at other restaurants. The dish also incorporates copious amounts of tamarind, that wonderful, sweet and sour fruit that gives Pad Thai its signature orange color. Overall, it's one of the best Pad Thais I've had.
Fusion is also my go-to for Thai stir fry. My favorite by far is the Garlic Pepper preparation with beef, but it's hard to go wrong with any of their stir fry dishes. Other favorites include the Ginger Delight and Cashew Nut preparations. Careful, though, the pineapple in the Cashew Nut preparation soaks up all of the spicy sauce, becoming a spice bomb waiting to explode in your mouth.
For all other noodle dishes, it's off to Thai Tasty. They're one of the few places in town that offer Pad Woon Sen, another personal favorite. This dish uses glass, or bean thread, noodles as its base. The thin, transparent noodles have a unique starchy texture. For Pad Woon Sen, they're stir fried with veggies, your protein of choice, and a spicy sauce with strong umami notes. Other winner noodle dishes include the Singapore Noodles (noodles stir fried with curry seasoning) and Thai Chow Mein (egg noodles in a sweet soy sauce, a good option for the spice averse).
Thai Tasty is also my place for fried rice. Their Basil Fried Rice is pure heaven, with floral notes of basil in every bite. And, their Bacon Fried Rice is positively sinful. Regardless of what you choose for your entrée, if you can catch them before they run out for the night, I highly recommend the Curry Puff appetizer. The curry spice is light but thoroughly permeates the potatoes in the puff pastry. They also have the best peanut sauce in town, so the Chicken Satay is another great appetizer pick.
If it's Thai curry you crave, then Thai Time is the place to go. All of their curries have a depth and richness to them, but the Yellow Curry, full of potatoes, carrots, and onions, is one of my comfort foods. I ordered it mild many times while ill and basked in the warmth of the seasonings without worrying about heat levels. Any other time, I'd be ordering it spicier and enjoying the heat added to the comforting base flavors. A close second to the Yellow Curry is the Massaman Curry, a rich red curry base with onions, carrots, potatoes, and peanuts.
If going for straight chili is more your speed, the Crunchy Chicken is coated in roasted chili paste and then stir fried with onions, carrots, bell peppers, and cashews. You'll feel the burn, but it'll be so, so good on the way down. Thai Time also has the best Crab Rangoons in town. Their secret is the curry seasoning incorporated into the cream cheese. They give the otherwise commonplace appetizer a unique kick and depth of flavor. Add the usual sweet chili dipping sauce, and it's heaven.
So now you know the three best Thai places in Jackson, and possibly, some of the best Thai restaurants in the US. Don't believe me? Follow this handy guide and go test the menus for yourself. I can promise you that you'll enjoy your meal, even if you don't agree it's the best Thai food around.