If the food at Sala Cafe tastes particularly authentic, that’s because it is. Preparing fresh sushi alongside Thai curries, the chefs at Sala Cafe have years of experience cooking Thai food in the U.S. as well as at the family’s restaurant in Thailand. Fresh ingredients make their way into every stir-fry and rice dish, including seafood teriyaki and volcano chicken. Expertly prepared sushi rolls, including the Dance with Shrimp roll and the Savannah Snapper roll, continue to serve up the restaurant’s fresh flavors.
Clad in a red cap and a white uniform, Siam First’s Chef Derm traces the surface of ginger root, lemongrass, and a chili pepper, expounding upon their health benefits on TV Diner. Ginger root is good for heartburn, and chili pepper helps digestion, he remarks, before showing his Thai twist on a New England favorite—Maine lobster.
Beneath Siam First’s gabled roof, Chef Derm and his team crank out Thai specialties that mingle local ingredients such as Maine lobster with spices and herbs imported directly from the land of smiles. Below small, hanging lights and glowing wall sconces, tables populate with duck and snapper in thai basil, mango curry, and garlic-ginger sauces. While noshing on dumplings or crab rangoon, guests can peek into Siam's giant aquarium, rife with fish, green plants, and Jacques Cousteau’s long-lost car keys.
With recipes that call to mind the towering spires of the Khmer Empire’s antique capital, the chef at Angkor Restaurant recreates modern Cambodia’s favorite dishes. Nam yaa, the restaurant's most popular dish, is also known as medicine soup for the restorative qualities of its lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and the tradition of serving it in a tiny childproof bottle. Distinct Cambodian sauces, such as tamarind and spicy garlic, douse crispy fish, and peanut sauce tops banh hoi, whose steamed noodles are accompanied by lettuce and mint.
Siam Square packs its eclectic menu with stir-fried and sautéed dishes drawn from various regions of Thailand. Super spicy tom-yum soup flavors a chicken or shrimp broth with thai herbs for a hot, welcome break from Campbell’s congressman-shaped chicken-noodle soup ($3.25). Crushed peanuts rub elbows with tofu, eggs, and meats at the pad thai's rice-noodle pad ($7.50/lunch, $8.95/dinner), and hot basil fried rice fills barren stomachs with ground chicken, peppers, and other fresh veggies ($7.50/lunch, $8.95/dinner). Vegetarian options abound at Siam Square, as sweet-and-sour veggies such as zucchini, carrots, and baby corn seamlessly synthesize with tofu ($9.50).
Red curry, green curry, mango curry—at Pakarang Restaurant, who's celebrating their 20th anniversary this year— the kitchen crafts nine different fragrant curries in varying levels of heat, in which chicken, beef, or seafood simmer. Specialty dishes include the bangkok beef and crispy duck. All the cuisine is artfully made, matching the casual yet modern, underwater-themed decor that includes dark-stained wood floors and mottled walls.
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.