For me, Pom’s Thai Taste on Congress street has long been a one-dish destination. I flip to the full-page “build your own soup” section of the menu, smile up at the waitress and point: Medium noodles. Five spice broth. Crispy duck. Prepared medium spicy.
It’s what I get every time.
Now, it’s not the best soup in the world, but it’s dependable, hearty, filling and affordable. At $8.95 (lunch size) and $12.95 (a formidable dinner size), it’s a deal. And, with a heat level that turns your cheeks rosy and sinuses clear — it’s a flavorful way to warm up in winter and sober up on First Friday’s.
So, branching out of my rut for this review was a bit tough. Sometimes I just like what I like. But, I set my resolve and waltzed in for lunch on a recent Friday.
Feeling slightly pressured by the regimented efficiency of Pom’s wait staff, I scanned the expansive menu for a suitable duck soup replacement. Still searching through town for great Pad Thai, I choose the restaurant’s Maine shrimp version. For an appetizer, I couldn’t resist the intriguingly titled Steamed Butterflies.
Billed as the Pom’s house specialty, the butterflies were mostly just a sticky and overly sweet mess. Essentially dumplings stuffed with ground chicken breast, ground peanuts, herbs and turnips, they tasted — strangely — as if they had been dipped in a vat of maple syrup. It was hard to get past the pasty texture of the dumpling shell and the cloying flavor of its contents. Even a dunk in the accompanying soy sauce didn’t mute the sweetness much.
The Pad Thai arrived looking promising. I enjoyed the first few bites. It was fresh. Noodles perfectly cooked. Shrimp the requisite blend of buttery and meaty. Crisp bean sprouts added snap. But, quickly, a sweetness (with undertones of fish sauce and overtones of peanut) took control. I scanned my plate for the lime.
No lime! What’s wrong with the Thai restaurants in this town!
Instead of suffering in silence I flagged down a waitress and begged for citrus. It came promptly. One squeeze and the flavor profile balanced out and I was able to contentedly finish the rest of my meal. Once tamed, the Pad Thai was quite tasty.
Through all this drama, across the table, Adam was happily slurping his duck noodle soup.
Blogger’s Note: This post is the fourth in a series of Thai restaurant reviews being conducted — and posted on the same day — by a group of Portland bloggers and writers. For other reviews, check out Portland Food Map.