Good Food and Good People Keep Folks Coming Back to Morningside Thai

A change of venue has done nothing to diminish this restaurant’s top-notch cuisine.

We had started with basic pork dumplings and fish cakes, a common street food in Thailand that I had to assure my companions would be delicious. After a bite or two of the fish, they began thanking me for doing the ordering instead of leaving them to their own devices. The fish cakes are pan-fried, but there's no batter involved, allowing the subtle fish, onions and chiles to come through without any unnecessary hindrance. Rather than combining cucumbers with the fish, as many recipes do, small cucumbers were sliced and mixed with a sweet and sour dipping sauce so alluring that we all agreed we could use a second helping of sauce to eat on its own.

When the charming waitress brought out the main courses on intricate blue and white china, we all gasped and exclaimed how beautiful the heaping plates of food were.

"Who, me?" said the waitress, giggling, in broken English. "Yes, I'm beautiful. Thank you!" She walked away, leaving us highly amused by her quick wit and more eager than ever to see what this odd little place had up its sleeves.

The roasted duck curry will awaken all your senses and warm you up on a cold day.
Troy Fields
The roasted duck curry will awaken all your senses and warm you up on a cold day.

Location Info


Morningside Thai Restaurant

2473 South Braeswood Boulevard, A
Houston, TX 77030

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Kirby-West U


Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 11:30a.m. to 3 p.m and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday.

Dumplings: $4.95
Tod man pla (fish cakes): $6.95
Tom yum gai (chicken soup): $3.95
Pad Thai with pork: $11.95
Green curry with chicken: $11.95
Eggplant basil: $11.95
Thai fried rice: $11.95
Pla krob kra prao: $16.95
Roasted duck curry: $16.95
Fried bananas with coconut ice cream: $6.95

For more coverage of Morningside Thai:

Slideshow: A Closer Look at Morningside Thai
Blog: Morningside Thai Makes Great Thai Food...But Is it the Best?

The duck curry immediately sent us into a tizzy with its thick, fragrant, creamy sauce and juicy dark duck meat, as did a simple platter of roasted eggplant stewed in a spicy basil sauce. The pad Thai, which I treat as a sort of litmus test to assess the quality of a Thai restaurant, was a better version of the classic dish than I'm accustomed to, if a little on the greasy side. The noodles weren't gummy or overcooked, and were coated in a delightfully salty mixture of rice wine vinegar, tamarind paste and fish sauce that gave the dish an ideal brown color dotted with flecks of yellow egg, green onion and red pepper.

Even dessert — a course I often find lackluster in Asian restaurants because of my insatiable sweet tooth — was unexpectedly appealing. Light reddish-brown Thai tea ice cream is better even than Thai tea itself, and homemade coconut ice cream with small chewy shreds of real coconut is an ideal complement to bite-size balls of crunchy fried banana.

The only slightly disappointing dish I've had at Morningside Thai is a crispy fish in basil sauce. It wasn't bad, but didn't impress next to the curry, pad Thai, fish cakes and a few other vegetarian stir-fry dishes full of flavor. The primary issue was that the delicate white fish had been fried — an attempt to make it crispy — and had taken on the flavor of the frying oil. When the crispy fish was doused in the somewhat nondescript and thin basil sauce, it ceased to be crispy and instead became a soggy fish dumpling of sorts.

My disappointment in the fish was brief, however, because by this point my ever-giggling waitress had offered to pose with my food while I photographed it, and chef Ying continued to wink slyly at me every time she brought out a new platter for the party. I've never seen an entire staff (though this is a small one) so giddy while taking orders and bringing out dishes. It's difficult to be surrounded by such charming people and not allow a little of their mirth to rub off on you. Better than that, though, I think you can taste it in the food. Unhappy people could never make such lively, flavorful meals.

The mood is more subdued at Morningside Thai during lunch on a weekday. Diners shuffle in from nearby businesses and discuss the latest books they've read over steaming plates of fried rice, chicken curry and stir-fried beef. Jim rushes in and out of the kitchen with delivery orders while the servers bring a steady flow of full dishes from the kitchen. Sunlight streaming in through the windows makes the small space feel more open, while shadows dance across the white walls, adding interest to the plain surfaces.

And then, in the midst of the calm and quiet, Ying will emerge from the kitchen chatting and laughing, a tiny powerhouse in an apron, eager to make sure everyone in the dining room is enjoying the fruits of her labor. The whole place becomes more animated when she takes a moment to leave her workspace and play hostess.

Moments like these demonstrate that it's the people (almost) as much as the food that bring the party at Morningside Thai. When the restaurant closed temporarily while searching for a new location, fans of Morningside rallied around Jim and Ying, not just because they missed the food — for Houston has no shortage of fine Thai food — but because they missed the atmosphere created by the owners and staff of the small family business. When you're among them, with a warm bowl of spicy red curry in front of you, you'll feel it, too.

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My Voice Nation Help

We love Morningside Thai. It was a sad day when they closed, and we were there opening night at the new location. Ying is a wonderful hostess; her charm infuses everything that happens in the restaurant.

The best recommendation I can give them is that when we want Thai food, we drive here from the Woodlands without complaint.


Actually, they are much better than Nit Noi, I can't stand their pad thai and I LOVE Morningside Thai's version.  

timblack2 topcommenter

they're good but they're no Nit Noi!


Nit Noi is horrible, I would never eat there again.

timblack2 topcommenter

@Aggie_Kelli I was being sarcastic. Kaitlin put a Nit Noi dish in her top 100 dishes in Houston a couple weeks ago (cue laugh track for the out of towner navigating her way around the big city). It was number 68 if you care to have a good laugh. Comments are great too. Tried to embed a link but it didn't work, just in case it looks like I commented twice.