Only two blocks from Centre Square in Easton, just off the corner of Second and Northampton streets, is an authentic Thai restaurant dishing out fresh Asian cuisine every day of the week.
The menu at , which is separate for lunch and dinner, offers up a surprising variety of Thai fare, the likes of which aren’t often seen in these parts; things like curry dishes, stir-fried concoctions and noodle bowls that use a blend of spices unique to Thai cooking.
If you walk too fast down Northampton Street, you might miss Phenom’s thin storefront window. But, step inside, and you’ll be surprised at how misleadingly large the restaurant really is -- the main dining room, which includes a stage, can seat up to 200 guests.
Phenom, which opened in May 2007, is decked in maroon and earth tones, and is adorned with art and ornaments that lend to the restaurant -- and its employees -- heritage.
According to the restaurant’s manager, Jackalyn Tipchaieuh, most of the décor is authentic art either from Thailand or by Thai artists, including the main dining room’s centerpiece, a large wooden elephant statue.
“The elephant is for good luck," Tipchaieuh explained. "A lot of people come to touch it."
Personal touches are what set Phenom apart, evident by the orange table napkins that are each individually folded into the shape of a lotus blossom.
That same personal touch applies to the food as well; everything in the kitchen is homemade, right down to the dumplings and veggie rolls. The partially-open kitchen allows diners a peek backstage as the cooks prepare their meals.
Perhaps the most uncommon trait of Phenom’s entrées is the diversity; diners can choose between a variety of meats and seafoods, including chicken, pork, beef, scallops, shrimp or even duck.
Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to learn that entrées also have the option of vegetables, tofu or seitan (wheat protein) rather than meats or seafood.
Phenom even has the rebuttal to an oft-argued belief: isn’t Thai food really spicy?
“A lot of people have the misconception that Thai food has to be spicy,” Tipchaieuh said. “We ask how you want it and will do it that way, from non-spicy on up… we’re very accommodating.”
Tipchaieuh added, “Of course, Phad Thai is the ‘known Thai dish,’” which I, the author, believe was subtextually intended as, “Americans, be more adventurous!”
And for those who still remain timid, Phenom dedicates a small section of its menu to some American foods, like burgers, chicken breast and garden salads.
Another interesting feature is the small, yet quaint, outdoor patio, completely enclosed on all four sides by exterior restaurant walls. The eight-table patio is a popular spot for couples to dine during the warmer months; the staff lights candles for each table in the evenings, and fresh flowers are grown along the single windowless wall.
Phenom’s bar is stocked with almost every type of liquor, a selection of wines by the glass or bottle, and 12 different bottled beers, including Singha, a Thai lager. The specialty cocktail is the Thai Bomb, which is similar to a Long Island Iced Tea, but uses Thai iced tea rather than cola.
Guests at Phenom can expect to spend $10 to $20 per person, not including drinks, with only a few seafood dishes, like lobster and king crab legs topping $30.
The restaurant is group-friendly and hosts private parties, in addition to offereing off-site catering. And for an additional $3, delivery to the Easton and Philipsburg areas is available.
“We like to make our customers feel at home,” Tipchaieuh said. “We’re like the Cheers of Easton… I guarantee at least one of us will remember your name.”
Phenom is located at 161 Northampton Street in downtown Easton. Hours of operation are daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and dinner is served from 3:30 p.m. to close. Phenom accepts all major credit cards and personal checks.
For more information, check Phenom out on Facebook, and if you stop by for some Phad Thai, don’t ignore the elephant in the dining room; give it a poke for good luck.