Restaurant Reporter
Jan Butsch Schroder

In the past 10 to 15 years, the popularity of Thai food in the United States has taken off quicker than you can say Massaman curry, with restaurants popping up in shopping centers and strip malls all over.

The cuisine relies on a balance of five flavors in either each dish or the meal as a whole: spicy, sour, sweet, salty and bitter, and uses fresh herbs and spices and is often flavored with fish sauce.

A favorite dish of Americans, pad Thai has rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce and a combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken or tofu, topped with crushed peanuts and garnished with lime.

One of my favorites is coconut soup—to the extent that I’ve thought of searching for a 12-step program for my admitted addiction—but as it seems to be healthy, inexpensive and if you don’t count the occasional missed meeting because I’m waiting in line for a quick take-out order, it rarely interferes with my day-to-day life. So I’ve decided to just live with it, along with my other food addictions that include jalapeno pimento cheese spread, chocolate chip cookies and anything crunchy and salty, but mostly Bugles.

Whether you’re a jasmine rice or strictly a noodle type, next time you crave a taste of Thai, try one of these restaurants.

Thai Sandy Springs cooks with fresh produce from local markets and some spices imported from Thailand. Chef’s specials include Bangkok catfish, basil shrimp and scallops and Phuket salmon. 5975 Roswell Road, 404-250-9515, www.thaisandysprings.com

The first location of Rice Thai Café was in Roswell, but owner Kris Boonruang found that about 40 percent of his customers for lunch were from Sandy Springs, so he opened a location there as well. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner and although it doesn’t have a liquor license, you may take your own bottle. Check out their cooking classes and private lunches or dinners served in your home. 1155 Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs, 770-817-9800 and 1104 Canton Street in Roswell, 770-640-0788, www.goforthai.com/Hammond-intro.htm

Sushi fans will love the quality and selection at Bangkok Thyme, located between Buckhead and Sandy Springs and diners have raved about the service as well. Be sure to try the Thai basil roll. 404-389-0909, 4969 Roswell Road, www.bangkokthyme.com,

For a romantic dining experience in an off-the-beaten-path location, try Little Thai Cuisine. Don’t miss the roti, those addictive pancakes you dip in curry sauce. 404-943-9189, 220 Sandy Springs Circle, www.littlethaicuisine.com

Thai Fusion, located in Brookwood Square in Buckhead, serves lunch and dinner during the week and dinner on the weekends. Special entrees include three flavor fish, basil lamb chops and roasted duck with red curry. 2140 Peachtree Street, 404-351-3072, http://thaifusionatlanta.com