Sunshine Fine Thai Cuisine's pan-flipping masters churn out menus of authentic Southeast Asian fare with market-fresh produce, high-quality meat and seafood, and 100% vegetable oil. Fiery native chilies ripple beneath a seemingly peaceful pool of sweet coconut-milk curry, waiting to pounce on tongues and bites of mango fried rice with cashew nuts. The menu ranks many dishes' spiciness levels on a scale of one to three chili peppers, but chefs will happily customize any entree for patrons with low heat tolerances or those who regularly slurp bowls of lava. Smoking-hot plates of crispy chicken basil excite tongues with a special chili brown sauce, whereas the rama garden's mixed vegetables coddle taste buds with a gentle peanut sauce. Sunshine Fine Thai Cuisine plays host to midday dalliances and nights on the town, and its armada of drivers delivers piping-hot panang to those comfortable at home or up to their ankles in fresh concrete.
The chefs at Green Basil want you to eat your vegetables. So, they take care to include plenty of the green stuff in all of their home-style Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Of course, that would include plenty of basil, a staple herb in many Thai recipes and a key garnish on the side of every bowl of pho. Those basil leaves are plucked fresh every morning from local markets and groceries, along with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and all the other fresh veggies the kitchen needs for the day. The daily grocery runs are just a part of Green Basil's long-standing commitment to crafting fresh, healthy food and getting to know the supermarket baggers by name. To that end, they also use only natural, zero-trans fat cooking oil to prepare each dish, so guests can bite into crispy tamarind duck or stir-fried mongolian beef without guilt.
Thai Time's authentic menu bombards taste buds with classic Thai ingredients and recipes. Five types of curry jockey for taste-bud attention, with the sweet pineapple and corn of the yellow curry chicken juxtaposing spicy pepper flavors ($7.50 lunch, $10.95 dinner). House specialties, such as the Furious Trio, a triumvirate of pork, chicken, and beef in spicy siracha sauce ($7.95 lunch, $12.95 dinner), treat diners to the chefs' favorite dishes and inspire jealousy in the other entrees. The Boston volcano swims to the forefront of the duck dishes, towing a delectable flotilla of carrots, peas, mushrooms, and coated in tamarind sauce and burning hot magma ($8.50 lunch, $15.95 dinner).
Tom Yum Koong's chefs build on traditional Thai recipes to load their menu with exciting and eclectic ingredients ranging from tangerines and mango to wild boar and squid. Sugar and spice join forces to season the thick sauce simmering in the black-pepper-mango curry ($10.95), a flavorful bowl of vegetables and cashews mixed with a choice of meat. A medley of seameats such as mussels and squid sizzle in the Phuket fried rice ($10.95), and the fantasy tilapia ($13.95) takes time off from reading J.R.R. Tolkien to glide out of the kitchen atop a bed of veggies simmering in chili sauce. Basil leaves join peppers, onion, and pork in a skittering dance across the skillet in the pan-fried wild-boar basil ($9.95). Fresh-fish cravings recede at the sushi bar to prevent persistent urges to trawl through exhibits at the local aquarium.
Inside a spacious setting adorned with Thai-style woodcarvings, stately pillars, and hanging plants, Erawan of Siam's chef and owner prepares authentic Thai cuisine using techniques perfected across her more than 20-year career. She folds traditional herbs and spices into every dish, starting with appetizers such as the red-curry-infused todmun, a golden-fried shrimp cake served alongside a ground peanut and cucumber dipping sauce. From there, tongues traverse main dishes that, like the best Harlequin romances, span three levels of spiciness, progressing from sweet and mild stir-fried roasted duck with pineapple and scallions to grilled salmon laced with extra spicy choo-chee curry.
It’s not uncommon for the dishes at Baan Thai to arrive with elegant garnishes such as roses carved into carrots or, even better, a bite-size dumpling tied to the plate. Even without the accessories, though, Baan Thai’s elaborate menu garners attention with a wide range of dishes, from sweet pineapple fried rice to spicy Thai curries poured over chicken, duck, or tofu. After guests munch on sushi, pad thai, or the plates themselves, servers appear bearing desserts of sticky rice with mango or crispy fried bananas.