round four and our assignment was pom's thai taste. between the congress street location and the cottage road location in south portland, seth and i have been to pom's a least half a dozen times and its my feeling that its some of the best thai food in portland.
this past wednesday, after the bizarre snow cleared to a beautiful evening, we walked downtown to sample pom's again. it was about 6:30 and the restaurant was quite full. there were a few empty tables but they were still waiting to be bussed. as we waited by the door i could see there were two servers working the floor without a busser or hostess, and they were hustling. initially i was quite put off because one of the servers walked right by us on her way to bring a table food and didn't even acknowledge us. i was a waitress for years, and i in no way expected her to drop what she was doing to seat us, but i felt like she should have at least said 'i'll be right with you.' but within another minute she was seating us and apologizing for the wait and the rest of our service was great.
ordering at pom's can be a little intimidating as you are presented with three separate menus -- one of sushi, one for noodles, and one for thai. we knew we were going for thai, so that made things easy for us. and once you get into the thai menu its super descriptive and helpful. i've been eating thai for years but i didn't really know how choo chee varied from other curries until i read the descriptions of the many thai sauces.
i managed to steer seth away from the appetizer sampler and instead we started with the thai crab cakes and the deep fried pork dumplings. this was our second time ordering the crab cakes and they were delicious again. the cakes themselves are a mixture of maine crab meat and ground chicken and don't have the delicate texture i expect from crab cakes, but are quite toothsome (remember kevin's definition of toothsome on top chef?). though the menu mentions some pineapple sauce and ginger salad dressing, both times we have gotten these, they are served with this yummy pink creamy sauce and a sweet and sour sauce. i'm curious about the other sauces, but the two we got are great accompaniments.
the pork dumplings were kind of a disappointment. you can choose between steamed or deep fried, but i really wanted them pan fried. i love the way pan frying crisps up some of the skin but leaves other parts soft. deep frying the dumpling just made them tough. and both the filling and the ginger dipping sauce were bland.
for our entrees we got the yum nuer salad and the spicy crispy duck. we had ordered the duck before and it was amazing the first time so i was really excited to try it again. but i felt like we were sort of going out of our comfort zone ordering the salad as i usually order some sort of curry. when the salad arrived at the table i realized we had ordered it the first time we ate at pom's, along with the spicy crispy duck, so we were basically repeating a previous meal. it was great the first time and it was great again!
the yum nuer is salad of thinly slice of charcoal-broiled beef mixed with lemon grass, red pepper, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and scallions, tossed in spicy sour lime juice dressing on a bed of lettuce. it certainly is yum (sorry i couldn't help myself)! the beef itself was a bit overdone for my taste and pretty tough, but the fresh veggies with cilantro and mint and the spicy dressing totally made up for it. i would absolutely order it a third time.
the spicy crispy duck was all that i remembered it to be: half a crispy roasted duck topped with mushrooms, onions, red and green onions, and basil leaves in a spicy chili-garlic sauce. we had a dish very similar to this at viet bangkok and oh my god how pom's version blows that one out of the water. this is the way you serve crispy duck! the crispy crackling skin coated with sticky spicy and slightly sweet sauce ... i'm drooling just writing about it.
i love that pom's features local maine crab and shrimp on their menu. but i'm totally puzzeled as to why they have new zealand mussels. is there something i don't know about these mussels? is it just a species of mussels? are they really so amazing as to forgo local mussels in favor of importing them all the way from new zealand?
one thing i feel compelled to address is price as it was one of the things i bagged on sala thai for. in reality the price points at pom's and sala are pretty much the same, but i don't mind spending the extra money at pom's because the food is better. it doesn't even really strike me as pricey because the quality of the food is so great.
so this was yet another great meal at pom's and it reinforced my belief that this is one of the best thai restaurants in portland.