Penn’s Thai House offers authentic food in Henderson


There are so many good at great Thai restaurants in Las Vegas now that it’s hard to decide which one we want to make our own. The regular place. Here’s what could happen: we think about what dish we want the most and we go to the restaurant that does that dish the best. It’s actually a very Thai way of eating, at least that’s what I’m told. But that does not facilitate decision making. We don’t know who has the best tom kha gay soup, for example; we love the Lemongrass stuff in Aria, but Weera Thai’s version lives up to it as well.

If it’s som name you want the larb-like a ground pork salad with ginger, onion, peanuts and lime, you have to check out the one from Penn’s Thai House. It’s explosive, absolutely mind-blowing with chili and ginger, and beautifully balanced with some freshness of cilantro leaves and the solid crunch of peanuts. It’s perfect. But now we have more problems – there are so many other amazing dishes at Penn’s.

This little spot on Sunset just east of 95 has become a favorite with local critics and food explorers, as chef Penn Amarapayark makes everything from scratch, including his own curry pasta. Eating at Penn’s is like visiting a friend’s house. There is a richness and affection to this food that is scarce even among all the other good to great Thai restaurants around Las Vegas.

Beef jerky, a la Penn’s.

These curries are complex and memorable. At first taste, the green curry seemed light and smooth, creamy with coconut milk and scalloped with bamboo shoots, but after its flavors got over the spice to eat all that incendiary som name, he himself had considerable depth and warmth. Penn’s pad see ew ($ 8.95), the dish often known as drunken noodles, is different. There are no lumps with these flat rice noodles, saturated with chili, rice vinegar, garlic and soy, and decorated with juicy chunks of tomatoes and basil leaves.

Tender Thai Lemongrass BBQ Chicken ($ 9.95) is served boneless, ideally with rice and a spicy papaya salad with shrimp. Come to think of it, Penn’s tom kha gay, the coconut galangal soup loaded with chicken and mushrooms, is also very good. There’s a unique sweet bite here: steamed buns filled with green tea cream, served hot. Don’t skip them.

It’s hard to compare our valley’s plethora of delicious, incredibly affordable neighborhood Thai joints. Even though the menus look the same, remember that there are hundreds of ways to prepare the same dish. Part of this diversity is due to regional variations in cuisine; in part because cooks love to cook their own way. If you like Thai food, you could do a lot worse than Las Vegas. And if you love this food, and you’re here, Penn’s must be on your list.

Penn’s Thai House 724 Sunset Road, 564-0162. Every day, 11 am-9pm

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