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Vol. LXI, No. 26
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

THE REAL THING: "We offer authentic Thai cuisine, the type of food you will find in Bangkok." Somm Bolsue, manager of Tom Yum Goong restaurant, is shown by a famous painting of the Ramayana saga, typical of art in Thailand.

Tom Yum Goong Restaurant Serves Authentic Thai Cuisine

Traditional, tempting, and tasty Thai cuisine is available at Tom Yum Goong Restaurant at 354 Nassau Street. Opened in December, it has become a popular spot for diners familiar with the savory pleasures of Thai cooking and also for those new to this dining experience.

"We had an interest in opening in Princeton because there is a very international community here," says manager Somm Bolsue, who has worked in the food industry for nearly 30 years. "We are getting lots of customers, including Thai students, Indian and Chinese people, as well as Americans. Many are repeat customers, and some even come every week."

They are drawn to the many choices on the menu, which represents a full sampling of authentic Thai dining, carefully prepared with the freshest ingredients, and pleasingly presented.

"Fresh ingredients are very important in Thai cooking," points out Mr. Bolsue. "We use a lot of fresh vegetables and seafood, which I buy daily. It is all very fresh. Meat and chicken are also popular in Thai cooking, and sauteed dishes are very typical of Thai food."

Signature Soup

Sauces are important, he notes, adding, "Also, many different spices are used, including curry. Thai food is influenced by Indian, Chinese, and French cuisine."

Lunch, dinner, and take-out are available, with the restaurant's signature Tom Yum Goong soup (clear shrimp soup with galangal, lemon grass, mushrooms, bell peppers, Kaffir lime leaves, and lime juice) and appetizers such as Satays of Siam (choice of grilled chicken, pork, or beef marinated with Thai herbs, served with peanut sauce and onion cucumber salad sauce) and Golden Bags (ground shrimp, water chestnuts, mushrooms and Thai spices wrapped with tofu skin and served with sweet plum sauce) all enticing "curtain raisers."

Popular entrees include Pad-Kra-Prow (stir-fried fresh chili peppers, garlic, onions, and Thai basil leaves served with choice of chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, or mixed seafood), Bangkok duck (half-duck with coconut milk, bell peppers, pineapple, and curry sauce), Seafood Firehouse (stir-fried shrimp, scallops, and squid in hot chili sauce with onions, straw mushrooms, and green peppers on a bed of steamed mussels), and Chuchee Salmon (grilled salmon with coconut milk and chuchee curry).

A number of curry dishes are also favorites, especially red curry with coconut milk, eggplant, sliced bamboo shoots, snow peas, Zucchini, tomatoes, peas, fresh basil leaves, and green peppers, with choice of seafood, chicken or beef; and yellow curry, with coconut milk, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, pineapple, zucchini, and butternut squash, also with choice of seafood, chicken, or beef.

Crazy Noodles

All spicy entrees at Tom Yum Goong can be adjusted to the customers' taste, notes Mr. Bolsue.,

Other popular dishes include the noodle entrees, with traditional favorites Pad Thai Siam (flavorful Thai rice noodles with bean curd, eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts, and tamarind sauce, and choice of vegetables, chicken, or shrimp) and Crazy Noodles (rice noodles stir-fried with chicken or beef in hot chili sauce with string beans, onions, green peppers, and hot basil leaves).

The signature Thai jasmine rice with its unique flavor and aroma is a popular entree, and includes stir-fried shrimp, beef, chicken or pork with chopped onions, eggs, peas, bell peppers, and scallions; and pineapple fried rice, stir-fried with cashew nuts, chopped onions, eggs, peas, scallions, tomatoes, curry powder, served in a half-pineapple shell.

In addition, rice is served as a side dish with all entrees, except noodles.

Salads, such as the popular Som Tum (papaya salad), with fresh sliced green papaya, tomatoes, string beans, peanuts, Thai chili, garlic, lime juice, shrimp, and dried shrimp, are also in demand.

Beverages include Thai iced tea and coffee, as well as sodas and hot tea and coffee. Popular desserts are Sweet Mango with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk; black sticky rice pudding, also cooked in coconut milk; and fried ice cream, wrapped within a slice of white bread.

Thai Art

Tom Yum Goong can accommodate 60 people and is also available for private parties and catering. Princeton University has been a recent catering client, says Mr. Bolsue.

Diners enjoy the authentic Thai decor in the handsome restaurant as well as the good food. The appealing look of rich wood and burgundy and gold walls, highlighted by displays of traditional Thai art, including sculpture, add to the interest of this unique restaurant.

"I enjoy meeting the people — it's a real mix, all ages, and families," says Mr. Bolsue. "We are pleased to give advice about Thai food if people ask, and I think that customers are happy both with our food and service. Our priority is good food and good service. Our customers know we are set apart because we offer authentic Thai cuisine and emphasize personal attention."

Prices cover a range, starting at $12.95 for entrees and $6.95 for soups, salads, and appetizers. Desserts are from $4.50 and beverages from $1.75. Tom Yum Goong does not have a liquor license, and customers enjoy bringing their own wine. They also appreciate the convenient parking (shared with the Whole Earth Center) and outside tables for the summer.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday 11 to 10, Friday and Saturday 11 to 11, Sunday 12:30 to 10.

The restaurant will be closed July 2, 3, and 4. (609) 921-2003. Website:

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