While some restaurant trends seem to crop up on us en masse (we’re looking at you, gourmet burgers joints), other cuisines are sadly underrepresented. Asian food is high on that latter list—which is why we’re grateful that The Eastern Peak has opened on Thompson Lane.
Part of a tiny chainlet of restaurants in Western Kentucky that go by the name Jasmine Thai Cuisine, The Eastern Peak falls into a pan-Asian category, with a menu that’s mostly made up of Thai and Japanese dishes. The owners completely remodeled the dining space (previously the home of Thai Star), and the results are striking.
Decorated in natural materials, the room is accented with rough-hewn wood and globoid paper lanterns. The color scheme is glossy black, with dramatic accents of red. The kitchen is hidden away behind a wall of bottles on offer from a short, but affordable, list of wines.
Ryan Yamada, of the bar-consulting business Raise the Bar, developed the drink list, which is packed with creative cocktails utilizing culturally appropriate ingredients in drinks like the cucumber-lemongrass martini, a Chinese five-spice old fashioned, and a wasabi bloody Mary. Even better, they’re only $5 apiece during happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Along with great drink deals, the restaurant offers discounted wine and sake, as well as sushi and appetizers for the same price.
The cocktails are designed to match well with the appetizer and sushi plates. The kitchen demonstrates deft knife skills in their presentation of sashimi and signature sushi rolls, like the hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi, the Red Dragon Roll (spicy tuna, avocado, and cucumber, topped with tuna), and the Eastern Peak Roll (egg omelet, crab, avocado, lightly grilled salmon aburi, salmon roe, spicy mayo, and eel sauce).
Beyond sushi, there are straightforward Thai dishes, like a well-seasoned and beautifully plated pad Thai, with radishes, peanuts, and bean sprouts. (There’s a flavorful tofu option for vegetarians, too.) Other traditional Thai noodle dishes, like pad kee mao (drunken noodles) and lo mein, incorporate fresh vegetables and come in varying heat levels. (Note: The kitchen is not afraid to make you sweat if you challenge them.)
Fresh ingredients also make notable appearances in both the green and red curries, where tart lime leaves offer citrusy snap and crunchy bell peppers and carrots contribute color, flavor, and texture. Save room for one of the most flavorful bowls of tom kha chicken soup in town, with just the right spicy-sour mix of coconut milk, lemongrass, and galangal root.
More substantial entrees include a complex version of orange chicken, wherein the deep-fried chicken benefits from a nuanced orange glaze before being tossed with bell peppers, ginger, garlic, and onions, as well as basil duck, which is spiced up with Thai chiles. Or try roasted duck curry, accented with red-coconut curry and pineapple.
If there’s any room for dessert, go for a bowl of light green tea ice cream—a fitting palate cleanser after such a far-reaching journey.
AUTHOR: Chris Chamberlain