Now this is where things start getting interesting...throwdowns between restaurants with completely different styles and niches. Gone are the rather straightforward apples to apples comparisons. This isn't even apples to oranges, this is sushi versus curry, as Anchorage's preeminent sushi spot Dish and their most delectable Thai restaurant Thai Orchid square off in what is sure to be a very close competition.
Dish excels at a few things, but when you go to a sushi joint one of the biggest differentiators is the freshness of the fish that they use. While some restaurants taste like they actually dug their product out of Dish's trash after it went bad (*ahem* SAMURAI!), Dish manages to bring some of the most phenomenal flavors out of their unagi and ama ebi simply due to the fact you know it was freshly cut. Their unagi in itself is an experience, as it is the best I've ever tasted. You also have a wide selection of rolls to choose from, a great bar, and an eclectic mix of other foods like various forms of (meat) teriyaki and (meat) fried rice. It isn't just a Japanese experience, it's a full Asian foods experience.
But there are downsides: it's rather expensive and kind of streaky (but that is mostly the type of food you're dealing with - sushi is so oriented off of mood it is unbelievable). Plus, there is the personal downside in that I always see people I know there, and that isn't something I'm looking to do. No basketball references here, as Dish is like a D2 school somehow getting into the tourney due to unforeseen circumstances amongst a lot of the main contenders, and then making it rain like they are Reggie Miller against the Knicks.
Thai Orchid: To me, the competition for "Best Thai Restaurant" in Anchorage is no competition at all. Thai Orchid obliterates everyone simply because they make tastier food. Try their curry, try their pad thai, try their fresh rolls...it's all phenomenal. This is one of the few restaurants on the list that is exceptional only for their food, but it's a contender no less. Everything I've had there is better than its counterpart at any other local Thai joint, and for that reason Thai Orchid is one of my go-to lunch spots. Plus, holy crap they give you a lot of food.
However, there are some major negatives here. It is the single tiniest restaurant on the planet and corroborates my theory that all Thai restaurants must reside in a strip mall of some sort. If it's winter time, every new patron freezes out the people that are eating. The service is abysmal and at times can be mistaken for indifferent or even mean spirited. Thank god the food is good.
The Showdown: As much as I want to give Thai Orchid some love, they have huge negatives on the table. While they definitely have very good food, it doesn't stop the fact that Dish brings a lot more than just good food to the table. When that is factored in, this is no contest at all.