In Thailand, a Tuk Tuk is a small taxi that moves you affordably through the streets.
In Knoxville, Tuk Tuk is a relatively new Thai Fusion restaurant that takes you on a flavor ride to Southeast Asia. You will be greeted by a small space in this family-run business with a smiling face and a heavenly aroma billowing from the kitchen.
The Tuk Tuk Egg Roll finds itself on the top of my list for best appetizer in Knoxville. I would go as far to say that the Tuk Tuk Egg Roll is my favorite app of all time.
You take a small section of the flavor-packed Tuk Tuk egg roll, and wrap it up with a piece of lettuce and Thai basil. Then, go for a dip or a spoon-drizzle with the included sauce. The flavors are savory while maintaining a balance with the lightly sweet and sour sauce, with a crunch and chew from the roll itself. The roll gather’s flavors from the included shrimp and pork, and is rounded out by included aromatics. The Thai basil provides an authentic bombastic punch of flavor, and leaves you wanting more. It’s simply superb – a masterclass in texture and flavor. Seriously, this appetizer is worthy of a visit to Tuk Tuk Thai Fusion, alone.
Follow up the Tuk Tuk Egg Roll with a soup, like the venerable and dynamic Tom Kha. I went with shrimp for my protein choice. It reads creamy from the coconut milk, but it’s balanced by the aromatic lemongrass broth perfectly.
When you order at Tuk Tuk, each dish can be customized on a heat level of 1-5 or Thai Hot for the brave. It doesn’t have to be super spicy to be delicious, but I recommend trying this soup at a 4 or 5. It’s quite delicious and I always order it when visiting.
There’s several noodle dishes to try for your entre, with different flavor profiles and characteristics. The Pad Thai reads slightly creamy, with savory undertones of tamarind and fish sauce. It’s balanced with the textural reprieve of chopped unsalted peanuts that you garnish across the dish, and a pinch of lime juice for a touch of acidity. It’s a staple, and is a great choice on your first visit. If you’re wanting a deeper and more satisfyingly savory chew, opt for Pad Kee Mao, known to many as “Drunken Noodles.”
These Drunken Noodles read balanced, yet savory forward in flavor. It doesn’t punch you unless you want it to, but it can start a barfight if you order it at the 5 or Thai hot heat level. It has the onion to provide some crunch and textural counterpoint to the excellent chew of the larger noodles. These noodles soak up the sauce extremely well, and are absolutely delicious. I recommend ordering this if you’re tired of Pad Thai or have never had them before. They are perfect for a hangover, or a bored palate that needs some excitement in it’s life. Not wanting noodles you say? Tuk Tuk has stir fry’s and two other options that your Knox Food Dude HIGHLY suggests: Curry or a massive bowl of soup!
Tuk Tuk offers five curry dishes to choose from, each varying with different ingredients and flavor profiles. Those wanting a mild curry could opt for the yellow curry, but your Knox Food Dude suggests you go straight for the Green Curry. It’s creamy and luxurious, and packs a flavor like no other. Eggplant, bamboo shoots and bell peppers round out the textural components with your protein of choice. It’s fantastic with chicken, or shrimp. I also suggest you reach for higher heat levels (4 to Thai hot) to experience the balance between spice and creamy mouthfeels. It’s simply my favorite entrée on the menu if I’m not in the noodle mood, dude.
So you skipped my Tom Kha recommendation because you wanted a soup experience like no other? The Khao Soi is your perfect choice. It’s HUGE. The Khao Soi is also delightfully creamy and provides curry notes accompanied by the protein you selected. The broth itself is so flavorful. It just keeps giving in size and in flavor. The red onion and crunchies that are offered on the side provide a dichotomy of textures you typically don’t find in hardly any soups. Order this and everyone will have their jaws-dropped at the table while you indulge in the most flavorful comfort food you’ve ever experienced.
Tuk Tuk is located at 9253 Kingston Pike, near the Kroger Marketplace in a strip mall. There’s a popular soup and sandwich spot just a handful of parking spots away. “Nuke” that predictable joint and go straight for the mothertukin’ Tuk Tuk, baby. Your taste buds here at the Knox Food Dude crew will see you there.