One of my favorite things about the Seacoast is the unexpected dining experiences. In Dover alone there are plenty; Taste of India is always delicious, Saigon & Tokyo makes the best Pho around, and Quick To-Go gets me through my falafel cravings. Each of these restaurants has an unsuspecting store front, sign and location. One Dover restaurant that never fails is Khaophums Fine Thai Restaurant. The Central Ave. store front is in the former “Dew Drop Inn,” across from the Dover Chamber of Commerce.
We visited Khaophums on a Monday and the restaurant was packed! Despite the phone ringing off the hook and people coming and leaving, we were sat quickly and left to peruse the menu. The busy time kept service slow, but let me tell you this place is worth the wait.
We began our meal with Thai Style Crab Rangoons ($6.55) and two bowls of Tom Kha Gai Soup with chicken, ($3.95 each). These two dishes are some of my favorite bites on the seacoast. Khaophums crab rangoons are different than the “classic” Chinese-American style rangoons. Khaophums’ rangoons are smaller, softer, and have a thinner wonton wrapper. The thinner shell makes for a less greasy outside with more focus on the decadent inside. The filling is creamy and sweet with small amounts of crab and a great note of scallion throughout. The rangoons are served with a sweet chili sauce, ten to an order.
The Tom Kha Gai Soup is indescribably delicious; this classic Thai soup is made with lemongrass, scallions, mushrooms and coconut milk. The taste reminds me of Pho and this soup makes me feel warm inside. The recipe for Tom Kha Gai Soup varies from place to place; sometimes the soup is too thin, sometimes overwhelmingly thick, and some recipes call for tomato as well.
I have tried Tom Kha Gai Soup at numerous restaurants, Khaophums’ really takes the cake. The soup is light, but tastes rich with notes of lemongrass throughout the warm broth making it taste slightly citrusy and refreshing. The mushrooms are added raw to the soup and lightly cook in the broth. We chose chicken as our protein which makes the soup even more rich and satisfying.
Our main courses came several minutes behind the starters allowing us to digest and make more room. We ordered Green Curry with pork and sticky rice ($11.95), as well as Crazy Noodles with boneless duck, ($15.95). The green curry is a warm and spicy coconut milk gravy dotted with tender pork, green beans, zucchini, onions, red peppers and green peppers. I ordered Sticky Rice which I enjoy balling up and dipping into the gravy to cool the spice down. My curry was spicy and delicious, the vegetables bright and crisp, and the pork rich in flavor and incredibly tender.
Crazy Noodles are a stir-fried noodle dish with hot chili and wide noodles with vegetables and onion. The noodles are soft and spicy from being cooked in a dark chili infused sauce. The duck on our plate was tender and soaked up the flavor of the noodles well. Next time, I may ask for the duck portion on the side so I can truly taste the duck flavor.
In the past we have tried Khaophums’ Pad Thai, Thai Basil Chicken, Beef Satay, and Thai Pancakes. Khaophums offers a super low-priced lunch menu Monday-Friday; a great way to try a number of dishes. Khaophums’ service was slower, but they were busy, and it is always rewarding to have a hot meal made to order on the table. It is even more rewarding to see a local restaurant bustling on a Monday evening in October. Khaophums does not deliver, but offers fast take out. Khaophums is located at 555 Central Ave., Dover NH, 03820. For more information visit, http://www.khaophumsdover.com