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Comfort Me with Tom Ka Gai

April 15, 2010
James and Molly Jacobson

If you already like Thai food, you’ll recognize the quality dishes. The usual suspects—pad thai, soups, curries—are freshly made and well spiced. Although we personally like our Thai “hot” (spicy) or “Thai hot” (volcanic), even the milder versions are flavorful. We love the Tom Ka Gai—spicy coconut soup studded with big, fresh mushrooms, slices of ginger, basil leaves, and your choice of chicken and/or shrimp. The Tom Yum soup is another comforting brew—this one spicy and sour from the kaffir lime.

The green papaya salad is crisp and puckery, studded with finely chopped peanuts. It wakes up our palate for whatever main course we’re ordering. The Yum Nuer, or Beef Salad, piles marinated sour beef on top of a delicious medley of vegetables. We often order this cold dish if we’re in the mood for a light entrée.

The Crispy Chicken is a generous mound of deep fried chicken that comes with a complex, spicy red dipping sauce. We also like the Evil Prince curry with tofu, a blend of lemongrass, basil, chilies, and coconut milk. The Pad Pet is one of our favorites—a savory brown sauce with your choice of protein (we prefer pork).

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Top Maui Restaurants, by James and Molly Jacobson

Dishes are served family-style, and you can get sticky or brown rice on the side. The ingredients are fresh and local, with many coming from the owner’s garden. Beer and wine choices are limited, but they always have the light Thai beer Singha on hand, which is, of course, perfect. For dessert, we often order the coconut milk tapioca pudding or the mango over sticky rice.

Their combination dinners (for two, for three, for four) include some of the best items on the menu, and we recommend them for their value. Just about every dish can be made vegetarian, which is lovely for our herbivore friends.

Both locations are consistent and offer both dine in and take out. The dining rooms are wood paneled and have plenty of statuary and traditional décor, but also comfortable booths and real napkins. The moderate prices, excellent service, and delicious food make these little Thai joints a must-try.

Locations: Maui Mall, Kahului, 873-0225; Kukui Mall, Kīhei, 875-0839

 
 
 

 

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