Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Zangna fills a need for Thai

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge DANA VICKERSON
  • Dana Vickerson


The food scene is Central Arkansas is pretty robust, but we've been lacking in one great cuisine, Thai food. Chang's in Sherwood has been going strong for years, and lately we've seen a few new places pop up. It's nowhere near the saturated landscape of Northwest Arkansas, but we're growing. The latest contribution to the Thai food scene is Zangna Thai Cuisine. With fresh and authentic flavors, this restaurant is sure to become a staple in Little Rock dining.

Located in Shackleford Crossing, Zangna is a quick drive for a work lunch or romantic dinner. The interior of the restaurant is modestly sized, but it can seat many. I recently ate at Zangna for lunch on two consecutive Fridays. On the first trip, the restaurant was about half full, and we were in and out fairly quickly. Upon returning a week later, the line to get a table was six people deep. Word spreads quickly when the food is good, and it's clear that people are starting to talk about this place.

The menu is fairly large, and vegans and vegetarians will be happy to see tons of options. There are veggie stir fries, soups, noodle dishes, salads, and curries, as well as house made coconut ice cream and mango sticky rice. On my first visit, I ordered the yellow curry off the lunch menu. You have the option of your protein, and I went for the tofu. Lunch comes with white or brown rice, and your dish is accompanied by a vegetarian pot sticker. When my dish arrived, it was a bright and beautiful bowl of yellow curry, with fat chunks of tofu, potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. The flavors were deep and creamy, and the portion size was perfect. I was delighted to find such authentic Thai flavors to finally hit Central Arkansas.

On my second trip, I returned to the lunch menu. This time, my dining companion and I ordered the fresh rolls to start. Basil, lettuce, carrots, and spinach are wrapped up tightly in rice paper and served with a creamy peanut sauce. You're immediately hit with the flavor of basil in the roll, which goes well with the rich dipping sauce. At $7 a plate, though, this seemed a little steep for two spring rolls, but they were definitely tasty. For my lunch, I ordered the Pahd Eggplant, again with tofu. My plate came out with beautiful chunks of eggplant that had been cooked down to a firm texture without being mushy. The tofu cubes were pan fried and covered in a spicy sauce. Sprinkled throughout were bell peppers and basil. With so many veggie options, I'll have to come back many times to give everything a try.

I think the most disappointing thing about dining at Zangna thus far is I haven't made room for dessert. The lunch portions are generous, and they've left me with no room to try their sweet dishes. I know I'll have to make a trip down soon for some mango sticky rice. Their dinner menu also looks inciting, so be sure that your first trip to Zangna will not be your last.

Lastly, the staff at Zangna are incredibly nice and helpful when ordering. They have made both of my lunch experiences incredibly pleasant, and it bodes well for the future of the restaurant. So, if you have been lamenting the lack of decent Thai food options in Central Arkansas, proceed immediately to Shackleford Crossing and grab a bite at Zangna Thai Cuisine. You won't be disappointed.

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