Sometimes just when you think you’ve eaten pretty much everything the world has to offer, a fried spinach salad hits you upside the head and suddenly you’re reminded that there’s a whole world of cuisine just waiting to settle directly on your hips.

Cotati’s Spring Thai, which features that crispy salad and a host of other surprising-yet-familiar dishes, is the latest entrant to Oliver’s shopping center. Though the small restaurant space has been cursed for a host of other restaurants, the good news is that there’s something to cheer about here.

Red curry at Spring Thai restaurant in Cotati. Heather Irwin/PD

Red curry at Spring Thai restaurant in Cotati. Heather Irwin/PD

With entertaining menu items like batter-dipped spinach, a starter parade of appetizers worthy of tooting about, and a Pad Thai with actual wok hay (or the “breath” of a hot wok) Spring Thai’s passion for the exotic cuisine of southeast Asia is clear. 

Best Bets:
– Starter Parade ($15.99): This appetizer is entree-level filling, with fried veggie spring rolls, fresh vegan spring rolls, crab “pouches” filled with cream cheese, satay, Thai “bruschetta” with peanut sauce and shrimp, cucumber salad, peanut sauce, creamy vinaigrette and fish sauce. Plus, it just looks so darn pretty. One of my favorite appetizer spreads.

Red Curry, ($9.99 for lunch, $12.99 for dinner): I’m typically more of a green or pumpkin curry gal, but this red curry, with anise-y Thai basil, tofu and fresh green beans was fragrant and thinner than most coconut-based curries, though a little mild on the spice. We weren’t asked how spicy we liked our food, so I’ll be mild in my critique that most of the dishes here lacked the spicy zing I usually like in Thai food. If I’d had my druthers, I’d turn up the heat to like 3-4 instead of a 1.5. 

Noodle soup at Spring Thai in Cotati. Heather Irwin/PD

Noodle soup at Spring Thai in Cotati. Heather Irwin/PD

House Noodle Soup ($9.99): Go for the shrimp version of you’re a seafood fan, otherwise, it can be a bit ho-hum. We loved the intense peanut flavor and the sweetness, though again, a little spice isn’t a bad thing. Hard-boiled egg, yes. Missing the usual crispy onions. Leftovers were dinner gold–warm or cold–over rice.

Pad Thai ($8.99 for lunch, $10.99 for dinner): With a lattice of egg holding it together, this unique version of the Thai standby is a compact football of noodles. Very compact and very dense with little meat. We liked the hint of smoke in it, but wouldn’t mind a bit more punch of fish sauce or tamarind. Not to ketchup-y, which is always a sign of laziness in Thai cooking.

– Fried Spinach Salad ($7.99): Though more of a Filipino dish, when doused in fish sauce vinaigrette and covered with cashews and red onion, it’s hard to argue about origins. A must-order. 

– Peanut sauce: The measure of any Thai restaurant, in my book, is the peanut sauce–which is actually satay sauce.  Can’t be too thin or too thick. Can’t taste like Jiffy. Should be warm. And if it’s really the good stuff, a little float of red curry happening around the edges. Spring Thai hits it on all counts.Just a couple weeks into service, the restaurant has potential if the kitchen can get up to speed. Maybe it was an unfortunate day, but our meal lasted almost two hours, and not because we were such great conversationalists. 

Spring Thai Restaurant, 538 E. Cotati Ave., Cotati, 707-665-5180, springthai.net.