POM’S THAI RESTAURANT and NOODLE HOUSE
571 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(In the Arts District - Across from Cross Jewelers)
Tel. (207) 772-7999 ~ http://www.thaitastemaine.com
I am not a cook, although I have created a recipe for a gourmet lobster roll that is to die for, printed elsewhere on these pages, with the title, “The Falkenberg ~ A Lobster Roll for Those Who Want More than Mayonnaise.”
I am not a cook, but instead a man who used to be a boy, who had a Mother who was an amateur gourmet cook who loved the taste of good food so much that she would stop chewing and simply exclaim when she encountered the sublime in food. She gave me that same intense appreciation for superlative food. One doesn’t encounter it enough, but when one does... oh, my.
For many years, I have appreciated the unique taste of finely prepared General Tso’s chicken, a speciality of Chinese restaurants almost everywhere. Surprisingly, one can find the very best of General Tso’ chicken in unexpected places. It’s not the size and decor of the restaurant that matters. It’s the cook in the kitchen and the owner who cares about food that make the difference.
With General Tso’s chicken, it’s the freshness of the chicken, the quality of the batter, and the taste of the sauce that matters most. Oh, the sauce. The sauce has to be divine.
Since I don’t go out to fine restaurants that often (being delighted with the gourmet cooking of Queen Kimmy Sophia at home), I tend to gravitate toward the same dish when I visit various types of restaurants. When I go to a quality Chinese restaurant, I tend to order General chicken. As an infrequent order, it becomes a treat.
For quite some time, I had noticed that Pom’s Thai Restaurant and Noodle House on Congress Street, in Portland, Maine, was almost always packed. That’s generally a good sign, so one evening, Kimmy Sophia and I ventured out and got a window seat at Pom’s Thai, where we had a view of the populace and the promenade that is Congress Street.
The restaurant’s decor is bright and clean, and is the newest of the three local Thai restaurants started and owned by Ms. Pom Boobphachati. The ‘About Us’ page on the restaurant’s website gives one the strong impression that she loves what she does, and loves quality. Our experience confirmed that impression.
I had no idea that Pom’s Thai served General chicken, and spent quite a bit of time examining the many pages of exotic dishes. Although they looked fascinating, and were undoubtedly delicious, on that particular evening none of them grabbed my fancy. It was then that I spied an entry for “Thai General Tso's Chicken”, described on their website’s menu as, “Lightly Battered chicken sautéed in Thai Orange sauce with a touch of Vietnamese chili paste on top of steamed broccoli, red and green peppers, carrots, and snow peas.”
I was intrigued, and promptly ordered it.
When my dish came, it looked quite different than the standard Chinese variety of General chicken. The chicken was cut in thin strips and the batter was much more delicate. It didn’t have enough sauce for my taste (did I mention that I liked sauce?), so I ordered a side dish of the same sauce, and dipped each piece of chicken into it as I ate them.
Eating Pom’s Thai General chicken was an Event. In fact, it was a “Remember my mother’s gourmet cooking and exclaiming event”, where we would close our eyes and murmur, “Oh, my, that’s good.”
It was not only delicious, it was different. I learned that day, with all due respect to the bolder, more hearty taste of Chinese General Tso’s chicken, that I actually preferred the more sophisticated and delicate taste of Pom’s Thai General chicken.
Being a dedicated “foodie”, I went back to Pom’s Thai a while later, and once again experienced the Transcendence of Thai General Tso’s Chicken. Having now become an Advocate of Pom’s Thai, my wife and I took our youngest child and third son, Tadin, to Pom’s Thai just before he departed on a new adventure out into the world (he’s nineteen). Tadin loves General chicken as much as I do, and might even give up eating cereal for breakfast and eat General chicken instead. Well... maybe.
So, Kimmy Sophia and Tadin and I sat down at our reserved table by the window that fine evening, and all three of us ordered Pom’s Thai General chicken. I ordered extra sauce, and we dug in.
It was as delicately cooked and delicious as it had been before, and I do believe that Tadin was delighted with his Going Away Meal. I certainly was.
Our waitress was a charming young lady from Thailand, named Apple, which we discovered was a nickname that her mother gave her. She was kind and attentive, and an excellent waitress, and most importantly of course, she remembered our last name, which was impressive.
Now I know why Pom’s Thai Restaurant and Noodle House in Portland, Maine is always crowded. The food (at least the food I ate) is transcendent. I highly recommend it, and give Pom’s Thai “Five Stars.”
* * * * * (Five Stars)