Thai dining is nothing if not customizable to individual tastes. Table condiments often include not only hot chiles, for those who crave capsaicin, but also fish sauce and granulated sugar. Sweet, sour, salty, spicy, umami: You alone know how the balance of those tastes hit your palate and how each dish can serve as a vehicle.
Then again, you may find the kitchen hits all the right notes. Such was my first impression of the cooking at Noble Thai in West Town. This elegant new spot in the former location of Opart Thai (which moved just down the street) has a familiar menu with zero surprises, but don’t let that deter you: The seasoning is so clean and so bright that it makes you consider favorite dishes anew.
Just try to find a better som tum salad ($8.95). The green papaya shreds, tomatoes, and crisp beans are standard, but the dressing is a love song to lime juice with fish sauce, sugar, and chile harmonizing with the precision of ABBA. Larb ($8.95) features lean chicken ground to fine nubs, tossed with the toastiest rice powder and that same lime-forward bath. (I only wish they served wedges of cabbage, rather than iceberg lettuce, on the side.) If you’re a fan of the charbroiled beef dish called Tiger Cry ($12.95), here is your new obsession, with each piece practically candied in its marinade but not too sweet.
The dining area, with its abstract black-and-white mural suggestive of undulating waves and its blond wood furniture, is serene and beautiful; it’s like a next-gen Apple Store or the reading room in a just-built university library. While it’s a lovely place to spend an evening, I’m guessing this restaurant will go into serious carryout rotation for me.