Thai Emerald Restaurant

540 W. Crossville Road, Roswell. 770-552-6700

Owners Anong and Noy Inthalangsy juggle the best of both worlds. Quickie, affordable, weekday lunches give way to nightly white-tablecloth proceedings. And chef Anong's smart culinary sense (he studied at the Wandee Culinary Academy in Bangkok) is evident on both menus. The presentation proves tidy, artful and considerate, no matter the price of the entree.

MINI MUSEUM

The immaculate interior is so crisp and clean, there's no need to snoop at the health inspector rating. Each table has a traditional Thai sash, each sporting a different design, running the length of the surface. Various imported antiques decorate the intimate dining room. An ornately framed picture of the current Thai royal family hangs in regal fashion. Behind a small bar stocked with beer and wine is a large teak wood carving depicting a man and woman in old-school Thai dress. A bamboo khan, a northeastern Thai reed mouth organ, is displayed nearby.

The smallish patio makes up for size in ambience. Sure, a portion of the view is the parking lot, but a sizable patch of grass and trees surrounds the other side. A statue of a Thai guardian angel — the beaked creature looks like an offspring of a parrot and a dragon — spouts water into a small pool.

FAST LUNCH

The lunch menu has just enough offerings (mild and spicy) for diversity without causing confusion. Each entree, priced from $7.95 to $11.95, comes with a compact helping of the soup of the day or spring roll. Piquant flavors come in the form of dishes like prik pao with basil, snow peas, carrots, onions and bell peppers in a lively sauce.

The milder sweet and sour entree gets a stir-fry preparation with pineapple sweetening a mass of onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumber. All lunch entrees can include chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu.

HIGH-END DINNER

At dinnertime, out come the white tablecloths, which cover both indoor and outdoor tables. For a light starter, contemplate ordering the crispy tofu. Cooks lightly fry tofu squares, which nestle on top of each other next to two small bowls of sauces.

The clear one provides tangy dipping with a hint of lime juice, sugar and bits of benign peppers. The homemade brown sauce brings a peanut and hoisin base. A variety of entrees stock the menu, from spicy salmon and zesty duck to a basil-tinged rack of lamb and vegetarian fare.

The emerald lobster is a sure-fire winner, but a bit pricey at $24.95. The 6-ounce lobster tail joins a handful of sauteed scallops and shrimp among a troupe of veggies, including asparagus, snow peas and bell peppers. The chef takes an extra step by carving a carrot into the shape of a flower. The seafood portion is a bit light for the fee, but the jaw-dropping red curry sauce, which packs notable heat, adds enough fantastic flavor to keep a smile on our faces.

And you can't lose with the pad Thai, either. This standby dish has admirable execution. Blips of egg, tofu and ground peanuts can be found within a coil of rice noodles and bean sprouts.

Whether you're zipping through at lunch or lounging at a fancy dinner, a post-meal helping of mango ice cream or a milky glass of Thai iced tea can cool any residual heat.



Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; dinner, 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 4:30-10:30 p.m. Saturdays and noon-9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Reservations: Yes
Recommended dishes: Emerald lobster, crispy tofu, pad Thai, sweet and sour.
Entree prices: Lunch, $7.95-$11.95; dinner, $10.95-$24.95.
Web site: www.thaiemeraldrestaurant.com

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