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Portland Shines With Thai Favorites



The Portland area has seen a welcome growth in Thai restaurants in recent years. The subtle blend of spices and varying degrees of heat found in this Asian cooking matches well with Maine diners in search of new taste sensations. Such iconic eateries as Tasty Thai in Kittery, Seng Chai Thai Cuisine in Portland, and Bandaloop in the Kennebunks have succeeded in winning over patrons who are seeking more than your average Far Eastern meal. Meanwhile, such restaurants as Thai Taste and Mekhong Thai Restaurant have added new, fun dimensions to Thai cooking with their mix and match offerings of sauces, meats, and spices. Finally, our list includes dining spots such as The Blue Elephant and Boda which have proven that Thai Cuisine can be upscale and comfortable at the same time. Be sure to check out these eateries the next time you want to make it Thai for your dining pleasure.


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Thai Garden Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Thai Garden Restaurant


After a busy day of shopping at L.L. Bean, as well as Freeport's other famous outlets, there is nothing quite like satisfying Thai cuisine. Fortunately, Thai Garden Restaurant fits the bill with menu offerings that are both flavorful and delicious. The offerings are fairly standard when it comes to Thai food. All of the classics are here including spring rolls, Pad Thai, noodle soups, and chicken satay. The magic here is in the preparation. Each dish is prepared with fresh ingredients with spices and herbs that clearly shine and enrich the dining the experience. Menu standouts include the Pineapple Fried Rice and Drunken Noodles, both are dishes not always included at Thai eateries. The service is friendly and attentive. Prices are affordable with most menu items averaging around ten dollars.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to ask the waitress for daily specials.

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Boda
Photo courtesy of Boda


Boda takes its inspiration from the lively food vendors that offer tasty and inexpensive fare on the streets of Bangkok. While this eatery's menu does have meat dishes, their specialty is vegetarian fare with a zesty flare. Try their Kee Mao Noodles with tofu that includes a lively mix of onion, tomatoes, peppers, bamboo shoots and Chinese broccoli. Another standout is their Yellow Curry Jay with organic tofu, asparagus, summer squash, peppers, carrots, snow peas, and cauliflower expertly mixed together in a yellow curry sauce. Their Woon-Set Pat Thai brings together glass noodles with chopped tofu, shallots, bean sprouts, salted daikon, and Chinese chives wrapped in a Thai egg omelet. The atmosphere is friendly, wait service is efficient. Enjoy a taste of their Thai cuisine at Boda.

Local Expert tip: This restaurant specializes in making tofu dishes to order.

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Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro
Photo courtesy of Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro


The Green Elephant Bistro specializes in Asian cuisine where vegetarian dishes are an art form. Even die-hard meat eaters will willingly take a break to indulge in the exotic, expertly prepared dishes offered by this distinctive eatery. The menu features a wide selection of vegetable, tofu and curry-based items. Menu highlights include Stir Fry Asian Vegetable and Tofu featuring Chinese broccoli, napa cabbage, snow peas and bok choy is a delicious brown sauce; Spinach Noodle and Vegetable with bok choy, snow peas, tofu, and carrots stir fried in a spicy shitake-ginger sauce; and Char Guay Teow, a hearty concoction with Malaysian stir-fried wide rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallion, Sambal Oelek (red chili paste), tofu, and soy ham all topped with shredded lettuce and cilantro. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. It is closed Mondays.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to indulge in this elegant eateries lunch specials – good value for the money.

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Bandaloop
Photo courtesy of Bandaloop


Bandaloop has quickly become an iconic eatery for both locals and vacationers in Kennebunkport. This restaurant has been rightfully praised for its authentic organic Asian fusion cuisine. The atmosphere is casual and intimate with a choice, hearty vegetarian-style menu. Free range chicken and natural, organic beef are also available upon request. Interior furnishings feature Asian and natural wood accents. The star of the show, however, are organic, fresh and local ingredients. Bandaloop's appetizers nearly outshine its enticing entree menu with such appealing highlights as Grilled Chicken Satay; and Fresh Yellow Fin Tuna Cerviche on Crispy Wonton with cilantro, lime, avocado, and sugar cured jalapeno. Main courses include Oven Roasted Pacific Halibut with crispy udon noodles, asparagus-shitake mushroom-carrot slaw, and carmelized chili glaze; Cumin Grilled All Natural Chicken Breast with sweet-onion chipotle salsa, roasted corn fritters and lime-agave glaze; and Pan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops. Bandaloop also features a wide selection of wines, cocktails and craft brews.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to check out the daily fish catch specials.

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Thai Taste
Photo courtesy of Thai Taste


Thai Taste in South Portland raises the bar on made to order Thai cuisine. The highlight of its menu are mix and match noodle offerings prepared to meet specific customer's dining tastes. First, customers select their choice of noodles – everything from Sen Mee, very thin rice noodles, to Woon Sen, bean thread noodle. Next comes the selection of meat or seafood that includes a choice of chicken, duck, roasted pork, tofu and vegetables or beef. A wide selection of broths follows that includes favorites such as Tom Yum (red broth with hot and sour Thai herbs), Nam-sai (clear chicken broth) and Clear Tom Yum (which has a tasty sweet and sour Pad Thai flavor). Diners then finish up by choosing or deleting peanuts from their dish and then the degree of spiciness. The result are dishes that are designed to please the specific palates of customers. This winning formula continues to build a loyal following for Thai Taste among locals and visitors alike. Along with this unique serving option, Thai Taste also offers all of the favorites including Pad Thai, red and green curry that are also expertly prepared.

Local Expert tip: Thai Taste also caters and does deliveries.

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Sala Thai Restaurant and Lounge
Photo courtesy of Sala Thai Restaurant and Lounge


Sala Thai Restaurant and Lounge has long claimed to have the best Pad Thai in Portland. While such assertions are, of course, subjective, Sala Thai does do a great job with this classic Thai dish. Their Pad Thai noodles are thick and rich and mixed with fresh ground peanuts, egg, and scallion for a satisfying entrée. This offering is typical of Sala Thai's approach – quality, fresh ingredients that make even traditional dishes well worth experiencing. Among this Portland eatery's many menu standouts are its Thai salads which are meals unto themselves. Among top selections in this category are Plar Koong featuring shrimp with steamed rice, mushrooms, onions, red onions, celery, scallions and lemon grass; and Yam Voon Sean featuring vermicelli, ground pork, shrimp, black mushrooms, red onions, scallions, celery, onions, and roasted peanuts all combined in a spicy sauce. Standards such as red and green curry dishes are also worth tasting. Service is pleasant and helpful with meals served in a timely fashion.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to ask about Sala Thai's daily lunch specials.

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Mekhong Thai Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Mekhong Thai Restaurant


Mekhong Thai Restaurant has long been setting the standard for fine Thai dining in southern Maine. In addition to doing well with such favorites as Pad Thai and red and green curry dishes, this iconic eatery is known for mixing and matching spices, sauces, and herbs to serve up creative recipes. This is especially true with Mekhong Thai's singular chef specialties. Among the top standouts are Fillet Delight with steamed Haddock fillet accompanied by scallions, carrots, ginger, snow peas and red pepper; Chicken Chili-Pao featuring sautéed chicken with classic Thai chili paste, onion, scallions, red pepper and carrots; and Spicy Shrimp or Scallop in a Thai spicy and sour sauce with onion, basil, scallions, carrots and red pepper. For those seeking lighter fare, this restaurant's rice noodle soups satisfy with plenty of rich noodles and savory broth. Service is cordial and friendly and the interior is tastefully decorated in Thai cultural themes.

Local Expert tip: Ask the waitress for daily chef specials.

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Tasty Thai
Photo courtesy of Tasty Thai


Located in a non-descript shopping area near Route 1 in Kittery is a restaurant serving up some of the best Thai cuisine on the Southern Maine Seacoast: Tasty Thai. The star of this show is the food. Each dish is prepared with authentic, fresh ingredients. Each mouthful is full of rich, savory flavors featuring artfully blended spices and herbs. The Pad Thai, a Thai cuisine staple, features hearty noodles with a tantalizing mixture of chopped peanuts, scallions, herbs and chopped eggs. Similar attention and is evident in other menu offerings including Red Curry with chicken, bamboo shoots, mixed vegetables, Thai basil all simmered in coconut milk; and Pad Cashew Nuts with pork, cashew nuts, pineapple, mixed vegetables brought together in an appetizing spicy Thai brown sauce. Most dishes are prepared by Tasty Thai's co-owner, Nok Raynard, from homemade recipes. Even appetizers such as steamed vegetable dumplings, delicately wrapped in hand-tied dough, are evidence of Raynard's focus on cooking perfection.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to visit Tasty Thai's website for a listing of their daily in-house specials.

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