Northborough – Despite the cold wind, icy roads and piles of snow that turned Yoong Tong's delightful atrium dining area almost into an igloo, the warmth of the greeting from the extended Thai family who owns this restaurant and the mouthwatering aromas of curries simmering transport you to a snow-free land.
My husband and I had dinner at Yoong Tong recently, a reward for running the snow blower for the umpteenth time, and relished the cheerful, warm dining room and the welcome from Anna Sahasakmontri and her nephew, New Sittikong, as we ordered Thai beers and studied the menu.
The restaurant boasts an extensive sushi menu, available at the sushi bar or by table service. If you order a la carte, three pieces of sashimi run $6 to $7.95 and two pieces of sushi are $5 to $9.95, with maki rolls generally $6.95 to $13.95. There are also a number of combination sushi offerings, including plates to share.
This evening, however, we were in the mood for something hot and spicy to offset the winter chill, so we turned to the Thai menu with its wide range of pan-fried dishes, curries, seafood entrees, vegetarian options and noodles and fried rice. Most of the entrees are priced between $13.95 and $16.95 and are easily enough to share.
We started with the spicy Tom Yum soup ($3.95), available in either seafood or shrimp versions; we picked shrimp. The soup, flavored with lemongrass, chilies and lemon juice, was piping hot and spicy without being overpowering. Thin slices of fresh mushrooms and scallions complemented the shrimp.
While I's a big fan of pad Thai and frequently order that at Thai restaurants, I had already enjoyed Yoong Tong's version, served with the chopped peanuts, scallions and bean sprouts on the side to mix in as you wish, on a previous visit. This time, we decided to order from the list of house specialties.
The seasonal Thai mango curry ($16.95) was available, and we also chose tamarind duck ($16.95) since I like duck but rarely order it.
The mango curry was wonderful, generous pieces of ripe mango and thinly-sliced chicken breast in a spicy yellow curry sauce. The dish also included cherry tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini. It was slightly sweet from the mangos, and moderately spicy.
The second dish featured sliced boneless duck, very tender, in a sweet brown tamarind sauce, and also included lots of vegetables – tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and snow peas. It was beautifully presented with a mound of shredded lettuce and carrot slices cut into bright flowers. It tasted even better than it looked, and I's be tempted to try some of the restaurant's other duck entrees sometime.
We were intrigued by a photo of fried banana and ice cream ($6.50) on the dessert menu, and decided to share an order. Yoong Tong offers some interesting ice cream flavors – green tea, coconut and ginger – in addition to the usual choices, so we agreed on ginger ice cream.
A generous portion of ice cream with a mild ginger flavor was accompanied by four chunks of fresh banana, which had been wrapped in spring roll wrappers and deep-fried until the wrapper was crisp and the banana warmed through. It's interesting, unusual and very tasty.
Yoong Tong, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is open for lunch and dinner, and the family operates a second Yoong Tong as well, in Chelmsford right on the bike trail.
Yoong Tong is located at 278 Main St. (Route 20) in Northbor- ough. Lunch is available on weekdays only from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday until 10 p.m., Saturday from 3:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 3:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 508-393-7714 or visit www.yoongtong.com.