Linda

I confess that I do not know a lot about Thai food. I had never even tried it until I was well into adulthood. The one thing I know is that once you have tried great Thai food, you are likely to be looking forward to going back for more. I’m happy to say we found a local place that offers excellent Thai flavors in Farmington at Thai Smile & Sushi Restaurant.

We are confounded when we look at a Thai menu. George gives up and says, “You are going to need to order for me.” It doesn’t seem as though I should be drawn to these flavors, because one ingredient often used is fish sauce, and I’m not a fish eater. So I started looking at what other ingredients popped out in the dishes on the menu. Now I know why my attempts at cooking Thai food at home are weak. Many dishes involved kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass. Aha! A Google search revealed that Thai curries are coconut based, in contrast to Indian curries.

The menu at Thai Smile is full of choices. Sushi is served here as well, and it must be very popular, as we saw many diners enjoying it as an appetizer or a meal. We started with an appetizer of chicken satay. Four skewers of well-spiced grilled chicken arrived with two sauces — peanut sauce and fresh cucumber sauce. The chicken was tender and addictive thanks to the amazing seasoning.

The choices of curries had me stymied. I chose the yellow curry, something I’ve never tried before. The menu had a “one chili pepper” rating — just a touch of spiciness. It was off-the-charts good, with a progression of flavors exploding with each bite. The one-pepper rating was plenty of heat for us, but they can make your curry with less heat or even none at all. Just tell them your preference. I will say one must be brave to order the five-chili rating.

Rice comes with your dish and is meant to balance out the spiciness of the curry. You choose the type of meat or seafood you’d like in your stir-fry or curry. I highly recommend the yellow curry with shrimp. Pineapple, carrot, red pepper and onion are combined with the protein and rest in that delectable curry sauce.

For a nonspicy dish I chose lemongrass chicken stir-fry. Mushrooms, onion and green and red peppers lent color and flavor to the lemongrass sauce. There are a number of stir-fry dishes to choose from — some with heat, some not. Choices abound.

Customers continued to arrive throughout our meal and there were many to-go orders being picked up. You can order your meal online and pick it up at a time convenient to you.

George

Owner Chalee and his family are from Thailand and are hard workers. They opened their first restaurant in Biddeford, sold it to their employees and opened a restaurant in Mexico, which they are now selling to an employee there. They’ve been in Farmington for five years, and they noted that the community has been welcoming and supportive.

Chalee must have recognized me as a beer drinker, because after greeting us, he took me over to see his amazing selection of 30 beers, all on tap. No wonder this place is popular.

Our server, Bovakeo, as well as Chalee, was helpful in taking us through the huge number of choices on the menu. The chef sent out some delicious samples, including a tasty crab Rangoon with a crispy wanton crust covering the soft crab, with a sweet sauce. As I was finishing the last piece, I heard, “Honey, you were going to save some of that.” Oops. The chicken satay was also delicious, and included four large slices of chicken. I did not eat all of them!

My entree of yellow curry with shrimp is a popular dish, nicely spiced, with pineapple, carrots and onions. At the level-one spice, it was my favorite dish of the night. Linda would allow only one dessert, and I must admit the sweet sticky rice ($6.95) with mango was wonderful — not too sweet, just tasty.

Prices are reasonable, with no entrees more than $16.95, sushi dinners starting at $12.95 and appetizers starting at $4.95. Portions are large and, as if the lengthy menu isn’t enough, they always offer specials, including a spicy Mako shark dish ($16.95) the night we were there.

I was surprised by the number of young children eating here, including a dad with his two sons, a family celebrating a child’s birthday and quite a few University of Maine at Farmington students. Several people recommended this restaurant to us, including my cardiologist, Dr. Leslie West. I took that as an indication that this place is good for the heart. And now I agree.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.


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