By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough??”Celebrate Mother's Day with dinner at Yoong Tong, and your family will be warmly welcomed by the extended Sahasakmontri family, with brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews making sure both food and service are outstanding.
You are likely to be met at the door by a member of the family, and seated in either the wood-paneled dining room or the adjacent atrium dining area, which offers an almost-outdoors experience.
In addition to the large number of Thai entrees on the menu, Yoong Tong also has an extensive sushi selection, and a list of a dozen specialty maki rolls created by New Sittikong, the oldest of the cousins in the business and the sushi chef.
And if the younger children in your family have not yet become fans of Thai cuisine, Sittikong noted that many of the appetizers on the menu are popular with kids, including skewers of chicken satay, with or without the peanut dipping sauce, and dumplings or Thai rolls. He was quick to add that the kitchen will also prepare dishes of noodles or rice to meet the tastes of young diners.
My husband and I have enjoyed Yoong Tong's dishes several times, and the menu is so extensive that we always try something new.
On a recent visit, we started with one of Sittikong's maki creations, the firecracker roll, ($15.95), filled with shrimp tempura, salmon and cucumber, with chili sauce, wasabi and spicy mayonnaise adding some heat. The large roll in eight generous slices makes an excellent appetizer for two or more.
When it comes to the table, it's almost too pretty to eat, with garnishes of carrots cut into flowers and the ginger slices arranged as a rosebud, with the green wasabi shaped like a leaf at the base. Like many of Yoong Tong's spicy dishes, this roll has kick to it, but not enough to overpower the careful combination of flavors and textures. If you like your food quite spicy, be sure to tell your server.
“We are happy to tone the spiciness up or down without losing the taste,” Sittikong said.
We also sampled tempura watercress that Yoong Tong is experimenting with. It wasn's on the menu, but ask. The tangle of leaves and stems were bright green and fresh-tasting in the light tempura batter, accented with a shrimp sauce that was sweet and spicy.
From the list of curries, we decided to try massaman curry, ($14.95), intrigued by the combination of chicken (beef is also an option) with sweet potatoes, carrots and onion.
We also chose the cashew trio entrée, ($16.95), a combination of chicken, beef and pork topped with roasted cashews.? Most of Yoong Tong's entrees are priced between $14.95 and $17.95.
One of the things that has always impressed me about Yoong Tong's dishes is the high quality of the meat used, thin slices of chicken breast or lean beef or pork, with no fat or gristle, carefully cooked so they are still tender and juicy.
These two dishes were no exception.
The curry featured sliced chicken, chunks of sweet potato, and slices of carrots and onions in a flavorful sauce accented with just a hint of cinnamon.? It was unusual and very, very good.
The cashew trio was also excellent, with the tender meat slices and chunks of fresh mushrooms, red peppers, pineapple and snow peas, scattered with the nuts.? It was an interesting variation from the usual peanuts in Thai entrees, and is available in a chicken-only version as well.
After our dinner, Sittikong encouraged us to sample a dessert option he has added, topping a scoop of coconut ice cream with the restaurant's black sapphire rice pudding. We had tried the rice pudding before; it's made from black rice so it is as dark as dark chocolate and is served hot, topped with coconut milk.
Spooned over the restaurant's mildly-flavored coconut ice cream, the rice pudding was almost like hot fudge, rich and delicious. Ask your server about this combination if it has not yet made its way to the menu.
Yoong Tong is open for lunch during the week and dinner every evening, and the family operates a second Yoong Tong in Chelmsford right on the bike trail.
Yoong Tong is located at 278 Main St. (Route 20) in Northborough. Lunch is available on weekdays from 11 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 to 9 p.m. Most menu items are available for takeout. For more information, call 508-393-7714 or visit www.yoongtong.com.