Crab rangoons: Photo by James Coreas

Crab rangoons: Photo by James Coreas

Flickering candles adorn white tablecloths and carefully arranged place settings. Relaxing music plays, replacing the silence in the absence of flat screen televisions on the walls. This is exactly how restaurant owner Susan Hyland says dining out should be.

“I want guests to take their time, to enjoy the peace — and their food,” she says.

Hyland was a server for 14 years before she opened Thai Opal this year, so she knows a thing or two about what diners want. Although the restaurant replaced a shuttered Thai eatery, she makes sure that Thai Opal is different — first with the newly remodeled interior, and then with Thai dishes made from family recipes. For instance, the noodles in the spicy basil noodle dish (flat egg noodles topped with tomato, basil, bean sprouts, scallions, shallots and chili paste) are soaked in chili to absorb the heat before cooking. The flavorful noodles have a subtle, lingering heat.

For less spice, the chicken panang curry with potato, pineapple and basil is a popular menu item, Hyland says. Each dish that comes out of the kitchen is adorned with an artful garnish of orange slices, carrot and cabbage, and sometimes, a delicate orchid from a nearby florist.

Thai Opal
6300 Skillman, Suite 156

11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
noon-10 p.m. Sat.
5-10 p.m. Sun.

Price: $7-$15

Ambiance:  Traditional

Tip:  Take advantage of the BYOB policy while you can. A pending beer and wine license will soon change the rules.