#79 of 108 Asheville Restaurants

Thai Pearl

Thai Pearl-Authentic Thai Food and Oyster in Historic West Asheville
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Executive Chef May opened the Thai Pearl in 2020, and it was voted “Best New Restaurant in 2020.” She studied at The Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, and brought her culinary experience to the West Asheville restaurant. Thai Pearl is open all week and serves authentic Thai food and oysters.  

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

While there are plenty of Asian restaurants in the Asheville area, only Thai Pearl can claim to be the real deal. Executive Chef May studied at The Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, where she honed her culinary skills as a staff chef. Additionally, she worked with a Michelin Star Chef in Queensland, Australia. In 2020, Chef May decided it was time to broaden her horizons, so she opened the Thai Pearl in March.

Thai Pearl is in the Historic West Asheville, tucked beside other merchants with a matching brick facade. Their iconic logo is on the large storefront window, so it’s easy to spot whether on foot or in the car. But don’t let Thai Pearl’s petite size fool you into thinking the food is small in taste. Although reviews are mixed concerning the Thai Pearl, most are very positive. Considering the restaurant opened in 2020, one must factor in staffing or supply issues with some of the negative comments.

Inside, the Thai Pearl is long with a vaulted industrial-style ceiling. Wood floors and wainscot work in harmony with the painted walls. The wooden tables and chairs are simple and meld with the design motif. If you’re dining solo, there’s a wooden counter you can eat at facing the open kitchen. Asian artwork, figurines, and wallpaper are used sparingly and don’t overpower the senses. Flowers and plants set here and there add color and vibrancy to the room.

Thai Pearl is open seven days a week and offers lunch and dinner menus. Food ranges from appetizers to Thai soups to Chef’s Specials. They also serve curry and noodle dishes along with a children’s menu. One highlight is the oysters. You order ala cart and can choose from fresh oysters to Thai Style. Portions are large, and some diners needed a to-go box for leftovers.

For lunch and dinner options, diners will choose their protein which consists of:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Tofu
  • Veggies

For an additional cost, you may add:

  • Beef
  • Shrimp
  • Mussels
  • Calamari
  • Eggplant

You also let the chefs know how hot (spicy) you want your meal.

  • One-mile
  • Two-medium
  • Three-hot
  • Four-very hot
  • Five-Thai hot

Appetizers

Fresh Rolls
Diners receive two rolls filled with shrimp, cilantro, red onion, mint, shredded romaine, cabbage, carrot, and Thai basil. These ingredients are wrapped in rice paper and topped with hoisin sauce and peanuts.

Thai Wonton Taco
This take on the classic Mexican fare has minced shrimp with spicy larb seasoning, lime, fish sauce, red onion, green onion, mint, cilantro, and lettuce.

Thai Fries
Who doesn’t like french fries? This appetizer uses hand-cut potatoes that are tossed in chili-lime seasoning. Homemade spicy mayo comes as a dip.

Kee Mao Fried Rice
Stir-fried jasmine rice with egg, garlic, onion, peppercorn, wild ginger, carrot, and Thai Basil.

Eggplant Basil
This meal contains Japanese eggplant, carrot, mushroom, onion, garlic, snap pea, bell pepper, and Thai basil.

Secret Wife Stir Fry
Chefs take your choice of protein and add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, Thai basil, mushroom onion, bell pepper, and snap pea. These come on Jasmine rice with yellow curry in brown sauce.

Green Curry
According to the menu, this is their “famous curry,” so who are we to argue! This dish has green curry with chili paste, coconut milk, onion, Japanese eggplant, carrot, broccoli, bell pepper, mushroom, snap pea, and Thai basil.

With Chef May at the helm of the Thai Pearl and a diverse menu that includes oysters, we think you’ll love dining at the Thai Pearl.

Insider Tip:
Diners commented on the spiciness of the meals saying “hot” felt more like “medium.” But as everyone’s palate and sensitivity are different, err on the side of caution.