If your old method of sampling everything on a restaurant's menu tends to make bewildered enemies of everyone else in the restaurant, today's Groupon will let you curtail the thievery while still treating the palate. For $15, you get $35 worth of small-plate Thai cuisine and drinks at Ronnarong Thai Tapas Bar in Somerville.
Pan Thai serves up traditional, savory Thai dishes ranging from mild to spicy in a chic, green-tinged setting. Kick off meals with the crab rangoon, a mélange of crab meat and cream cheese that blends dairy with the sea better than brie-coated wetsuits ($5.95). Pan Thai's salads, such as the green-papaya salad stuffed with tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and a spicy house dressing ($6.95), make a slimming supper. Pasta plates are completely solid and topped with options such as the red-curry noodle in a spicy basil sauce ($9.95) or the pad thai, which comes in chicken, pork, and veggie-and-tofu incarnations ($9.95). Wash down spice-laden sustenance with a sweet thai iced coffee, a creamy, caffeinated concoction with a strong java flavor ($2.50).
According to Robert Nadeau of the Boston Phoenix, the chefs at Thaitation Restaurant know when enough is enough. “You smell the garlic, but don’t taste it,” the columnist writes, going on to rave about the chefs’ willingness to forgo heavy-handed seasonings for perfectly balanced flavors.
Indeed, slight hints of coconut broth, galangal root, and lemongrass infuse the lengthy list of items on owner Ratana Chourattana’s dinner menu. But these fresh seafood stir-fries, curries, and noodles are not all that Thaitation Restaurant has to offer. The eatery ends meals on a sweet note with a large number of desserts—a feature not typical of Thailand, as Nadeau points out. Guests can dip spoons into sweets such as coconut mousse as plentiful sunlight filters through huge dining-room windows, illuminating golden walls and tables set with cloth napkins.
The chefs at Dok Bua Thai Kitchen use a range of traditional ingredients to craft Thai dishes that drew attention from Boston Magazine. The writers named the eatery Best Thai in their Best of Boston 2011 piece, citing dishes such as “miang kum, an ultra-flavorful combination of dried shrimp, toasted coconut, peanuts, lime, ginger, and tamarind sauce served with spinach leaves for wrapping.” Dok Bua also earned a "very good to excellent" Zagat rating. The servers in the dining room at the eatery deliver still-steaming plates of deep-fried snapper with red-curry sauce, crispy pork with chili and basil sauce over rice, and time-tested pad thai with sautéed rice noodles, egg, and peanuts. As satisfied sighs drift through the dining room, black-sesame dumplings in ginger syrup and smooth coconut ice cream cradled in a coconut shell bring pleasant endings to feasts, unlike the discovery that papier mâchè is not a good material for building tables.