It's hard to get delivery (from a restaurant I'd want to eat at) where I live. We're juuuust out of delivery range for most Center City restaurants. So, when I found out that Circles Contemporary Asian Cuisine, a casual Thai take-out in the Newbold neighborhood delivers to my area, I was on it.
I cannot tell you what Circles looks like, because I've never been there, and probably never will. That's the beauty of delivery — they come to me! From what I hear it's a corner take-out joint with a glass partition separating the cashier and kitchen from walk-in customers and the waiting room, so don't head to Circles for a romantic evening of dining out.
The vegetarian summer rolls are standard fare with vermicelli noodles, carrots, scallions, lettuce, and basil. I would have loved less lettuce and more herbs. The peanut dipping sauce is sweet with crushed peanuts.
Fried tofu with a side of thin, sweet and sour sauce with crushed peanuts arrives extra crispy thanks to the the corner of the Styrofoam box that is thoughtfully cut off to allow the steam to escape. At $2.95, the fried tofu is a great deal.
Massaman curry with fried tofu, potatoes, onions, and peanuts is aromatic and creamy, but lacks the rich depth of spices I so love about massaman curry. Circles' massaman curry is heavy on some spice giving it a strong citrus flavor, perhaps galangal or lemongrass. While a perfectly fine massaman, Circles' rendition doesn't match up to my first and favorite massaman, and I am always on the quest to find "that" massaman.Circles' tofu pad Thai gets major props for perfectly balancing the sweet, spicy, sour, and salty components of pad Thai sauce, and also for saucing the noodles perfectly — not too dry, and not too wet. Green mango slices, a lime wedge, crushed peanuts, scallions, and julienned carrots and cabbage top off the noodles.
I can't think of a better pad Thai I've had in Philadelphia. Maybe at Chabbaa Thai, but it's in Manayunk, which I don't consider the city proper, and Chabbaa Thai certainly doesn't deliver to my house.
Spice levels at Circles seem to change daily. I always order medium, and sometimes it comes mild, sometimes it comes spicy.
Circles always quotes me 40 minutes for delivery, and always delivers in under 40 minutes.
There's also a $2 delivery charge included on your ticket, which may or may not be include on the over-the-phone total quote. The first time the delivery guy came to the door and asked for more money than I was quoted, I was a bit suspicious, but after inspecting the receipt I found the $2 delivery charge.
Is Circles the best Thai in the city? I think Circles is about on par with any good Thai restaurant, but the fact that they come to my house puts them at the top of my list, and makes them my go-to Thai restaurant.
Circles Contemporary Asian Cuisine
1516 Tasker St., Philadelphia, PA 19145
Mon: 5-11 p.m. Tue-Sun: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.