Could Thong be the best Thai restaurant around here?
If you’re hankering for Thai in the Mystic-Stonington-Westerly area, there are multiple good options to choose from, but in my mind, there’s one establishment that rises to the top.
Thong, at 15 Railroad Ave. opposite the Westerly Train Station, offers delicious, creative food and is a favorite of Thai aficionados.
The restaurant advertises itself as “Westerly’s most authentic Thai” and explains its name on its website: Thong means gold in the cuisine’s native language.
A while back, I had lunch at Thong with a friend, and the flavorful chicken Pad Thai ($6.95) was so satisfying I knew then I’d be back for dinner.
Thong is small — just 10 tables — so we were grateful when we ventured in on a recent rainy Thursday night to find seats. A waitress quickly greeted us, brought us water and menus and was eager to answer all of our questions about the specials, numerous entrees and the preferred level of spiciness in our dishes.
The offerings are expansive; there’s a regular menu, another with specials, and they have gluten-free and vegan options. We spent some time perusing all of the choices before deciding to start with three appetizers.
The Chicken Dumplings ($6.95) were a favorite. There were six of them artfully displayed on a serving platter sprinkled with chopped fresh scallions and crunchy, minced fried garlic. The dumplings were steamed, light and tasty, and even better when dipped in the side of spicy sesame soy sauce.
Like many of the other plates served at Thong, our platter of dumplings arrived with a lovely edible orchid that brightened the dish.
Next came the Crispy Fried Tofu ($5.95), which was served piping hot and was perfectly edible but not our favorite. It’s well known that tofu tastes like whatever it’s served with, but in this case, the sweet and sour sauce with ground peanuts was not enough of an accompaniment. The dish needed a flavor blast.
We were more enamored with the Giant Crispy Rolls ($4.95) — two of them — which were sliced on a diagonal and nestled in a wire mesh basket topped with spiralized carrots and a few sprigs of parsley. It was an attractive dish, both in appearance and taste. The rolls were loaded with mixed vegetables, crystal noodles and mushrooms, and served with a sweet and sour sauce. They were crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful inside.
As we digested what we’d had and waited for our entrees, we watched passersby on the sidewalk outside. Downtown Westerly is a busy place, and there was no shortage of pedestrians going by. There was also a steady stream of people who stepped into Thong to pick up orders to go.
Both of our entrees came from the “Thong’s Specialties” menu, and each included a side salad with two fried vegetable dumplings. The salad was simple — mixed greens, a slice of cucumber and a bit of tomato, all served cold with a very tasty ginger dressing.
We were not disappointed at all.
The Surf & Turf ($21.95 for the dinner portion) was a protein-packed, albeit spicy, selection. This was an ample plate of scallops, shrimp, pork, chicken, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, long hot peppers, green beans, baby corn and basil stir-fried with chili sauce. On a heat scale of one-to-five — from mild to native Thai hot — we opted for No. 2 — medium — and the dish was plenty spicy. It was also very good. The shrimp and scallops were perfectly cooked — tender, not rubbery — and the chicken and pork easily cut with a fork.
When the dish arrived, in addition to an orchid, it was topped with something I had never seen before — a tendril of fresh green peppercorns. I texted a photo to a foodie friend, and he told me what it was. It was pretty to look at, but I wouldn’t recommend eating one unless you like chewing on peppercorns.
Our other entrée was the Spicy Crispy Duck ($21.95), which came sautéed with hot chili sauce, red peppers, mushrooms, onions, basil, and cashews. It was a generous portion and the duck crispy where it should be — on the outside — with the meat below moist.
Thong’s website has a section called Food Porn with a nice display of photographs of some of what they offer. They also boast there that they only serve the highest quality and freshest ingredients available, and that certainly seems to be the case. There are several other good Thai restaurants in the area, but if you haven’t been to Thong yet, you might want to pay a visit. We will definitely be going back.
15 Railroad Ave., Westerly
Atmosphere: It’s a small place, with 10 tables and a few seats at a counter in the front window. Asian masks and Buddhas are on display and the night we were there, jazz music was softly playing.
Prices: Lunches run $7-$11; dinners, $11-$22; appetizers, $6-$8; and sides, $2-$5.
Hours: Closed Tuesdays. Weekday lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 5-9 p.m.; Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Credit cards: Yes
Handicapped access: The entry door is at street level.
What else: They deliver within a 4-mile radius for a minimal fee. Check the website for details.
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