You wouldn’t expect to find a four-star restaurant with delicate flavors, stunning presentation, an enormously creative menu, and a shimmer of nostalgia tucked into the desultory retail pur-ga-tory that includes Bedderest and The Curtainshop on Western Avenue near the Maine Mall in South Portland.
So Thai POM’s is more than just a find here–it’s an oasis.
Owned and managed by Pom Boob-phachati, who’s originally from Bangkok, Thai POM’s bills itself as “The Only Authentic Thai Food in the Maine Mall Area.”
To begin with, we gorged–as though they were tapas–on appetizers including Steamed But-terflies ($5.95), Dancing Shrimp ($7.95), Fresh Spring Rolls ($4.96), and Calamari & Vegetable Tempura ($6.95).
The Butterflies were luscious little dump-- -l-ings with a subtly seasoned chicken filling sharing a hint of ground roasted peanuts and turnips. Served with a good soy sauce, these are quite wonderful, particularly with Thai iced tea or a Thai martini (Grey Goose vodka, Triple Sec, and a Lychee nut).
Dancing Shrimp are fresh large shrimp marinated in yellow curry powder and coconut milk. Impaled on skewers, grilled, and served upright, these sensational crustaceans stand tall and seem truly dancing beings stuck on a half-orange in the center of the plate. Served with a rich, smooth peanut sauce, they are a theatrical, savory treat. The Fresh Spring Rolls are bigger than usual, and Thai POM’s zingy sweet-sour sauce topped with chopped peanuts puts them up in lights. Also a winner, the Tem-pura is light and laudably non-greasy.
For entrees, the Ginger Crispy Duck ($15.95) won immediate and sustained raves. The duck breast, a generous portion, is mouth-wateringly tender, with a terrific crispy skin. It mingles amazingly with the accompanying mushrooms, onions, scallions, red peppers, and black bean sauce.
The Red Curry, which we ordered with chicken (also offered with fried or steamed tofu, vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, scallop, duck, or combined seafood) is rich with intricate nuances, augmented by a sprinkling of basil leaves. Topped with red peppers and green, green beans, this strikingly attractive dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Finish with a bottle of Thai Lotus ($16), a soft, semi-sweet white wine, and you have what is certainly a desirable destination.’ What a grand way to accompany any kind of shopping spree! Pom, we are thankful for this splendid oasis.
Thai POM’S, 209 Western Avenue Crossing, South Portland. 347-3000. Lunch Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner every day; call for hours.