If you ever find yourself about 45 minutes southeast of Iowa City in Muscatine, Tantra Thai Bistro (101 W Mississippi Dr) is a great pit stop for some light yet flavorful food for lunch prices.
The restaurant is spacious, and with many tall windows and vaulted ceilings it is very open and brights. The service is incredibly nice and attentive without being intrusive; when I was out of water, it was filled within minutes.
The bistro boasts a vast menu ranging from woks and fried rice to entrees and curries, leaving something for every diner, whether they are new to Asian cuisine or want to try something familiar.
In the spicy chicken lettuce cups ($6.95), freshness is what sines through. The chicken is tender and has a bite, but the fresh lettuce, basil and vegetables are there to keep things clean. The wraps truly have layers of flavor, and every ingredient adds something to the dish. Be careful of your bite, however, because some scoops can have more chili than others.
For entrees, we split four choices. This was a great way to try the array of dishes they provide, whether it be a more traditional curry or noodle dish or the subtle flavors of a more familiar styled entree.
The yellow curry ($11.95) was creamy, with the rice perfectly sopping up the sweet sauce. The chicken is tender and all the vegetables were soft and melted on your mouth. I would highly recommend trying this dish; it will please any common-curry-consumer, and it is a great way to jump in of you aren’t used to bold flavors.
The pork pad Thai ($10.95), or boiled rice noodles dressed with fish sauce, and crushed peanuts, had a nice fish-sauce flavor without being overpowering. It was sweet, but there was a nice vinegar bite to round it out. The noodles were are slightly chewy-but in a good way. The pork was fresh and the bean spirits helped to add some crunch.
The garlic prawns ($14.95) have just enough garlic to give it flavor, but is surprisingly not over powering for the visible amount. The prawns sit in a light, garlic and pepper sauce that adds great flavor while not making it heavy in the least bit.
If you don’t like Asian food or would like to break up the Asian flavors, the crying tiger ($11.95) is a nicely grilled flank steak. With fish sauce on the side, you can customize whether or not you wanted to dive in with flavors, or simply drizzle them on top.
Overall, Tantra Thai Boutique is worth the drive. Every ingredient added is necessary and compliments each other nicely; you can tell the chefs took their time when preparing the dishes. For a lightness added to the wonderful flavor Asian cuisine provides, any diner would be happy here.