In Pursuit of Pho at Peabody’s Triple 888

Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Peabody, Pho Triple 888 | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Deciding to dine at this Peabody eatery may have you second-guessing yourself. First off, there’s the name. Pho Triple…wait, what? Triple 888. Apparently in Chinese culture the number 888 is lucky and brings prosperity, so why not triple your luck?

Second, the restaurant sits in a small strip mall on Route 1 in Peabody next door to a tattoo shop, and its dining room is quite drab.

The food, however, dispels all reservations. The large menu features mostly Vietnamese and Thai dishes with a few Chinese specialties thrown in.

We started with fresh spring rolls that included grilled chicken with the usual vermicelli, lettuce, and Asian basil ($4.95). They were light and lovely, and the peanut sauce accompaniment was not too sweet.

A bowl of Pho sounded the thing to fight the January chill, and we were not disappointed. The Tai Gan, a beef pho with rare steak and well-done flank ($7.45 for a large) was delicious. The steak arrived at the table rare and slowly cooked in the steaming soup. The broth was rich and complex with a pleasing umami.

The Mi Hai San, a seafood soup with vermicelli noodles ($7.95) was lighter but still savory, aromatic, and very filling.

The third dish we tried was the Bun Tom Noung, which featured grilled shrimp nestled on a bed of rice vermicelli and veggies ($8.75). The shrimp was firm and flavorful, and the vegetables fresh and crunchy.

We left the table pleased with the meal and the prices. We were not so impressed with the bathroom or the murmuring old TV surrounded by random videos in the dining room, but if you’re feeling adventurous and your idea of Asian food goes beyond the kitschy Kowloon fare served down the road, Triple 888 is worth investigating.

Pho Triple 888
136 Newbury St, Peabody
(978) 535-8339

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The Best Thai Restaurant You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted: November 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Marblehead, Thai Market | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

When an acclaimed local chef tells you to check out a new restaurant, you know it’s worth investigating. In our case, the chef was Barry Edelman of Five Corners Kitchen and the restaurant was Thai Market in Marblehead. Located on Hawkes street in the old Sticky Rice location, Thai Market is owned by chef Tom Kanchananaga and his wife. And we’ll confess, since Barry recommended it a few weeks ago, we’ve eaten there or ordered takeout three or four times already. It’s that good.

What makes Thai Market worth return visits? The freshness and quality are amazing. The chef makes everything fresh on site; the shumai ($6) are a perfect example. Shumai ordered at most Asian restaurants are exactly the same; prefab and predictable. Thai Market’s are handmade, so both the texture and flavor are more intense.

The satay skewers ($5) are small, but the meat is tender and perfectly grilled, and the Paper Shrimp ($6) are crispy tasty morsels that don’t need a drop of plum sauce. The Tom Yum soup ($4) is delicious, with an addictive, spicy lemongrass broth.

The entrees are where Thai Market really shines, though. Chef Kanchananaga is a master at making sauces that are lush but not heavy, and he packs every dish with gorgeous vegetables. We’re not talking the standard onions and peppers here. He uses fat sugar snap peas, fresh zucchini, squash, crisp green beans, bok choy, and even crunchy lotus root. One of our favorites so far is the Seafood Panang ($16) that features both shrimp and tender scallops along with those veggies in a medium spiced red curry.

We also tried the Ginger Fish ($18), red snapper served whole, crispy and savory on the outside and delicate and flaky on the inside. The Vegetable Drunken Noodles ($11) featured a symphony of veggies with a pleasing spicy basil garlic sauce. Even an old standard like Pad Thai ($11) is a little different, with the noodles slightly more al dente, so it’s got a lovely bite.

They don’t serve alcohol yet, but were just approved by Marblehead’s Board of Selectmen for a beer and wine license, so as soon as the paperwork goes through, they will be adding it to their offerings. In the mean time, the Thai Iced Tea ($2) is worth consideration.

So far, Thai Market hasn’t garnered much attention from the locals, so we urge you to head over and try it out. Chef Kanchananaga is just starting out and can’t support much of a staff yet, but don’t be put off if there’s a bit of a wait. Your meal will be worth it. And if you run into Barry Edelman picking up dinner for his family, tell him we said hello.

Thai Market
26 Hawkes Street, Marblehead
(781) 990-3765
www.thaimarketrestaurant.com

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Tasty Thai at Wakefield’s New Red Sugar Café

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Red Sugar Cafe, Wakefield | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Although Wakefield is a bit outside our usual stomping ground, last week I had an appointment there and decided to do lunch beforehand. Not sure where to eat, I shook the Twitter Magic Eight Ball to see what would come up. Several people suggested Red Sugar Café, a Thai place that has only been open a few months, and I took the hint.

A friend who works in Lynnfield met me at the small storefront, and we were seated at one of the eight tables and given a steaming mug of tea to warm us as we perused the menu.

All of Red Sugar’s prices are very reasonable, but their lunches are particularly so, accompanied by seaweed soup, an appetizer, and steamed rice.

I chose the chicken mango curry with gyoza as the starter ($8). The small, tender dumplings were savory and excellent, and the ginger dipping sauce was divine. The curry was beautiful, with lots of crisp-tender veggies, including red pepper and broccoli, in addition to the chunks of chicken and tangy mango. The sauce was hot and lush but not overwhelming. It was one of those meals I couldn’t stop eating, even though half of it would have been sufficient; it was just too delicious.

My companion opted for the drunken noodle dish and the Thai crab rangoon appetizer ($9). The rangoons were tasty, and the sweet apple dipping sauce was unusual. The hefty portion of pan-fried wide noodles mixed with chicken veggies and basil leaves was another winner—spicy and satisfying.

It is clear that the lunch menu just scratches the surface of what Red Sugar offers, and a return for dinner is in order to experience the full range of dishes. Given the great prices, exceptional service, and delicious food, Red Sugar should be on everyone’s must-try list.

Red Sugar Café
24 Vernon Street, Wakefield
(781) 587-0348
www.redsugarcafe.com

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Hot and Crunchy at Danvers’ Sawasdee

Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Danvers, Sawasdee Danvers | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

Award-winning Thai food for lunch? Conveniently located in downtown Danvers? What’s not to like? Indeed, we found everything to our liking on our visit to Sawasdee, which recently won Northshore Magazine’s vote for best Thai food.

The interior is airy and comfortable, with brick walls and wood floors, funky light fixtures, and more tiny bamboo plants than we’ve ever seen in one place. A cozy bar occupies one corner, and the restaurant serves beer and wine.

The menu is just as well thought out, with a huge selection of appetizers, the option to create your own stir fry or curry (choice of meat and sauce/veggies), and plenty of lunch specials. We especially like the option to change the white rice in the specials for brown rice ($.75), sticky rice ($1), or rice noodles ($1).

We started with a DIY appetizer special call fun fun lettuce wraps: large leaves that hold a chicken mixture and crispy bean thread noodles, all dipped in a sweet chili sauce ($5). Fun, crunchy, and delicious.

Then we moved onto pad thai ($6.75), panang curry with beef ($7.75), and pla rad pik (crispy fish, $7.75). The pad thai noodles and large shrimp were succulent, and the sauce was a tad sweeter than we’re used to—absolutely addictive. The panang had just the right combination of coconut and curry, although the beef was a bit chewy.

The fish was quite fiery and had a terrific light breading. It’s available as a whole fish for dinner, and we recommend it for those who complain that Thai restaurants turn down the heat too much for Americans. The vegetables on both the fish and the curry dishes were crisp/tender, just the way we like them.

Done right, there’s nothing like Thai food to satisfy those cravings for comforting carbs, salty sauces, and heat—and Sawasdee definitely does it right.

Sawasdee Danvers
49A Maple St, Danvers
(978) 744-8424
www.sawasdeedanvers.com

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Afternoon Delight

Posted: April 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Beverly, Siam Delight | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Updated 8/26/10: We visited Siam Delight last week and had a very different experience. Gummy pad thai and a much smaller portion for the same price. A friend of ours had a similar experience, so we’re guessing the restaurant has changed hands. We recommend you try Sawasdee in Danvers instead.

With signs of spring still few and far between, we decided to perk ourselves up with an indulgent lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant, Beverly’s Siam Delight. It did not disappoint, and we left with pleasantly full bellies and a lighter step.

The pretty green walls, warm wood, and whimsical lighting in this restaurant are somewhat unexpected given its location next to a dry cleaner on Cabot Street. Locals are certainly not fooled, as evidenced by the full dining room and long take-out line at lunch.

The food at Siam is consistently terrific—fresh and flavorful, and they never use MSG. We tried several new dishes on this visit and enjoyed all but one. First though, from previous meals we highly recommend the pad thai (well balanced sauce, good noodle texture, plentiful chicken and shrimp), and the duck green curry (just the right amount of heat and lots of sauce to coat the rice).

We started our lunch with shrimp in a blanket ($6) but weren’t crazy about the texture of the minced shrimp and fish inside the crispy shell. We had no complaints about our entrees, starting with the homestyle duck ($8) featuring boneless slices of tender meat, crisp-cooked vegetables, and a tasty sauce. The large plate of food came with a good-sized mound of white rice—an excellent value.

Longing for summer, we couldn’t resist ordering a dish named noodles on the beach and were glad we did. The wide noodles were succulent, and the sauce clinging to them and the vegetables featured a wonderful spicy basil flavor ($7.50). Our third dish was also a hit: beef magic fried rice. We don’t know about the magic, but the marinated beef, green peppers, basil, and plump rice grains made an addictive combination.

Siam Delight just celebrated its tenth year in business, and it’s easy to understand their staying power. With great food at reasonable prices, it’s our bet they’ll be delighting diners for many years to come.

Siam Delight
128 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 922-8514
www.nvo.com/siamdelight

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