Looking for good Thai food in Coral Gables on Friday night? Expect a wait. The Gables has a glut of Thai restaurants, and they get crowded, especially on weekends. But Lotus Garden, on the northwest end of Miracle Mile, is the exception. There's hardly ever a wait, even during the busiest dining hours. And if you're looking for some new-fangled fusion Thai dish, try another spot. But if you want classic Thai cuisine, you won't find better this side of Bangkok. The owners abide by Thai sensibilities, both in presentation and preparation. They eschew the ostentation and concentrate on quality ingredients and family tradition. What you're eating was either prepared by owner Cathy Nguyen or her mother — no exceptions. That means you won't find a fresher pad thai or chicken curry (red, green, panang, or massaman) — notice the crispness of the bamboo shoots in the curry, never a soggy bite and crunchy till the end. Same goes for the duck and fish dishes. Unlike other Thai restaurants that are beholden to Sysco or other suppliers, Lotus Garden buys its ingredients locally. They skin, debone, and steam the duck themselves. The décor is quaint and elegant, like the Mile used to be. It's not a place to be seen. In fact, it's where you go when you want to avoid much of what Miami has become. Just make sure you're hungry — the portions are large enough to give you a Buddha belly.