Warner Robins always has been known as a bastion of great, authentic ethnic foods. Thai Pepper lives up to that expectation, offering Japanese as well as Thai food. Since the menu is eight pages long, this review will focus only on the Thai half.
We started with the requisite crispy spring rolls and chicken satay with peanut sauce. The freshness of the spring rolls was evident in the crunchy cabbage and vibrant vegetables. The unusual thickness of the accompanying duck sauce caused us to ask for the ingredients of the duck sauce, half expecting our server to say it was out of a bottle, but she listed all its ingredients. The grilled flavor of the marinated satay made the peanut sauce optional instead of necessary.
Each entree comes with either the soup of the day or a small salad. The soup was tom yum, a simple sweet and sour soup, and the salad dressing was a homemade, chunky-textured ginger. The Thai section of the menu is divided into three main parts: noodle dishes, stir-fry and curries, so we tried one of each.
Thai food is often mistaken as only available in its hottest form, but most restaurants will offer various levels of heat. Thai Pepper offers a five-pepper system, from medium-hot to firestarter. Each of the stir-fry dishes can be created with either chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, soft shell crab or duck, at slightly different prices. We tried the pad-prik-khing, which is a concentrated version of a curry using chili peppers and galangal, a more potent form of ginger. Snap beans and bell peppers are stir-fried with the meat using the chili paste. Interestingly, the cook came out after ours was served and said, “Not hot enough” to meet our requested four-pepper hotness and brought it back when she was satisfied. It was indeed hot enough then.
The curries also can be created with any protein. I chose the massaman curry, a coconut curry with the strange combination of potatoes, avocado and cashews. Mere words cannot describe how good it was. The richness of the avocado and soft cashews balanced beautifully with the starchy potatoes and sweet coconut. All of the curries have coconut milk, which is the perfect foil for the spicy hotness of the peppers.
Of course, we had to try the pad Thai, practically the national dish of Thailand. Al dente rice noodles stir fried in a super-heated wok with egg, bean sprouts, scallions and crushed peanuts, this pad Thai would make its people proud. I’m sure the other noodle dishes are good as well, but I think I would try every different meat version of this pad Thai before I even began trying the others.
For base workers, the drive to the other end of Russell Parkway is well worth it. Thai Pepper’s quality is excellent, the price is right, and the service is friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. It may not look like much from the outside, but on a chilly afternoon or evening, Thai Pepper is a jewel.
Address: 1806 Russell Parkway, Warner Robins
Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday; noon-9 p.m. Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $6.95-$14.95
Rating: 3 stars