Food News

Thai Opal Is a Lake Highlands Gem

Thai iced tea and corn patties.
Thai iced tea and corn patties. Nick Reynolds
Competition is hot on the local Thai restaurant scene, so standing out among the crowd is no easy feat. Thai Opal, tucked away in the Skillman Abrams Crossing shopping center, near Northwest Highway and Central Expressway, has managed to do just that. The cozy Thai café opened in 2014 and has won multiple Best of Lake Highlands awards. It was featured in February on the local TV show "Destination Dallas."

We were first to arrive for dinner, though it didn’t take long for the dining room to get busy. How about a bottle of Singha, an all-barley Thai malt to start with? Yes, please. If you’re not in the mood for a brew, consider the Thai iced tea, a black tea with cream, sugar and spices. So good.
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Thai Opal is impeccably designed by owner Susan Hyland.
Nick Reynolds
We also ordered a serving of breaded and fried sweet corn patties ($7.95) to snack on while awaiting our main course. After a nice soak in the fryer, they arrived extra-crunchy and a proper match for our full-bodied, hop-laden lager.

We had a moment to enjoy the ambiance of Thai Opal before our plates emerged from the kitchen. Almost every dish is adorned with an orchid flower, the national flower of Thailand. This intimate space is romantic and impeccably decorated, with all the décor handpicked by owner Susan Hyland. Arriving in the U.S. in 1999 from Thailand, Hyland made her plunge into the restaurant business a decade and a half later. From all appearances, it's going very well.

First up was an order of chicken satay ($8.95): tender, curry-marinated chicken strips on skewers served with a rich but not overpowering peanut sauce on the side. Following that was the Thai Opal glass noodle curry ($17.95), a bed of long, skinny translucent noodles sauced in curry with bean sprouts, onions, egg and beef. On their own, these noodles have a neutral flavor profile. But combined with Thai curry, they burst with flavor. If you’re looking to satisfy a noodle fix, this is your place. Flat noodles, rice noodles, egg noodles and even spaghetti noodles are on the menu.

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Tamarind duck.
Nick Reynolds
Next in the batting order was tamarind duck ($23), pieces of wonderful fried duck in a tangy tamarind sauce, tossed, then topped with red and green bell peppers, scallions, onion and basil.

Our final dish was a bowl of creamy yellow curry ($18.45) with chicken. Mildly sweet and moderately spicy with notes of coconut and lemongrass, this was our favorite of the night. Thai Opal has green curry, red curry, Panang curry and Massaman curry as well.
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Yellow curry and chicken satay.
Nick Reynolds
We were stuffed and went light on the dessert. A shared order of fried bananas drizzled with chocolate and served with ice cream ($6.50) and Thai iced coffee ($5.50) hit the spot. During dessert, Hyland, fresh off a difficult thyroid surgery, can still light up a room. She stopped by our table and suggested we try the sticky rice and mango next time for dessert. We’re going to take her up on that.

Thai Opal, 6300 Skillman St., No. 156. 11 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Monday –Friday; noon – 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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