Are you looking for a Thai restaurant with a little bit of style and class? And also one that has a good amount of traditional Thai dishes that haven't been "Americanized" all that much? The Similans in East Cambridge may just be your place. This attractive, friendly restaurant just over the river from Boston is a great option for lovers of Asian food, and although it has many upscale touches, the meals at the Similans are actually pretty affordable. With good atmosphere, food, service, and prices all rolled up into one neat package, this is one Thai restaurant that Boston diners should definitely seek out.
The Similans is in a slightly out-of the way location, housed in the same building as the wonderful Helmand, and a short distance down the road from the Cambridgeside Galleria (heading toward Kendall Square). The building itself is an intriguing old place that perhaps was a factory in a previous life. The high ceilings, rich decor, attractive lighting, and soothing music give The Similans a special aura that one does not usually find at Thai restaurants. Indeed, the atmosphere is nearly as classy as Helmand, which is surely saying a lot.
The dinner menu at The Similans is extensive, and filled with both familiar Thai dishes as pad Thai and tamarind duck, as well as authentic Thai entrees such as striped bass with hot chilis, diced mango with chicken and yellow curry, and golden fried shrimp in Thai herbs and hot chili oil. For appetizers, you may want to start off with the delectably tender steamed chive dumplings, which come with a zingy ginger sauce and could be a meal in itself for someone looking for something a bit lighter. A few entrees at The Similans that are quite impressive are the jungle curry (careful with this red-hot coconut-free dish!); the tender chicken with pine nuts in a mild ginger sauce; the stir-fried drunken noodles with onions, green beans, basil leaves, and hot peppers; and the fiery pad kee mow, a "back of the menu" item that is a less Americanized version of the drunken noodles and includes squash, zucchini, Thai herbs and spices, and more heat than the drunken noodle dish.
After several years in business, not too many people seem to know about The Similans. However, being that the owners of Boston's terrific Brown Sugar Cafe are also the owners of this restaurant, this stylish little eatery does seem to have a loyal following, including those who enjoy Brown Sugar but live on the other side of the river from it.
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