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Local Flavor: Thai-Tastic



Freshness & flavor distinguish Pom’s Congress Street spot

By Avery Yale Kamila, 01/30/2008

Pom My biggest problem when eating out is usually choosing among the numerous tempting restaurants that beckon to me just blocks from my house. Unless it’s a Sunday or a Monday. On these days, finding dinner can feel more difficult than locating a bushel of Maine-grown corn in January.

But a recent arrival to the Portland food scene is keeping me well-fed no matter the day of the week. Pom’s Thai Taste opened in December on Congress Street next to Empire Dine and Dance. Since then, my husband and I have taken repeated advantage of the convenient hours (seven days a week) and the flawlessly executed food. Sampling both lunch and dinner, we’ve scored a home run every time.

Local Thai lovers will recognize this restaurant because it’s owned by Pom Boobphachati, who also runs Thai Taste and Thai Pom’s (both in SoPo). Many menu items are the same. However, the Portland spot bills itself as a “Noodle House,” and these bowls are definitely worth checking out.

You can create endless combos with the menu that allows you to pick a noodle (from thick to thin), toppings (from beef to tofu), broth (chicken, vegetable or none), peanuts (or not) and spice level (note: two stars is pretty damn hot). Adam has fallen head-over-heels for the crispy duck ($7.95) with sen yai (thick noodles), and it’s now his go-to dish.

Funny story about those noodles. On our most recent visit, he ordered his usual without broth, but when it arrived from the kitchen it was hard to miss all the liquid. Now if this had been me, I would have sent it back. But Adam said he didn’t mind the broth and dug right in. (He’s so much less high-maintenance than I am.)

A minute later, our server returned, apologizing for the screw up in the kitchen and offering a broth-less version. Adam turned it down, saying what he had was perfectly fine. But then Boobphachati herself showed up tableside with the broth-free crispy duck. (No charge, of course.) And Adam had the next day’s lunch. Sweet!

Besides attentive service, another thing that sets this restaurant apart is the photo album menu. This illustrated guide shows you what to expect when you order one of the more than 90 menu items, such as Thai orange chicken ($6.95 lunch/$12.95 dinner), Volcanic Eruption ($8.95/$15.95), mango curry ($12.95) or crispy pad Thai ($8.95). Apps are also shown in picture form, and we’ve enjoyed the fresh spring rolls ($5.95), mini veggie dumplings ($5.95) and Steamed Butterflies ($5.95).

Like many Thai places, Pom’s is a vegetarian’s dream. Both the Evil Prince Tofu ($6.95/$9.95) and the Vegetable Delight ($6.95/$9.95) are delish. (For you veggie-vores out there, make sure you order the vegetarian white sauce rather than the standard brown sauce, which contains oyster extract.) The tofu & vegetable noodle bowl ($6.95) is a winner too.

Everything we’ve eaten at Pom’s bursts with a perfect balance of sweet and savory and contains the crispy freshness that only comes from high-quality ingredients properly sautéed. But the best part is, I no longer have to go hungry on Sundays and Mondays.