A VERY GOOD STARTER Lim’s sashimi.
Another Thai restaurant in Providence? After all, we've developed increasing familiarity and selectivity about the cuisine, so our eyes tend to narrow as they lower to the plates for first tries. Well, since Lim's has solid offerings that can stand up to comparisons, maybe they have a shot.
The restaurant opened a few months ago in Wayland Square and, to double up on the challenge and benefits of success, they are also a sushi restaurant. In for a baht, in for a yen.
Lim's is simply but elegantly decorated, with two large stylized koi on panels at the end of the long room and white, abstract undulations the length of a side wall, remindful of waves or ocean currents. Delicately ingenious.
Before getting into the food, let me tell you a few other things about the design here, which can't help but inform other practices. (Such as giving sugar syrup rather than granulated sugar with the iced tea. Why isn't that done everywhere?) Attracting my eyes were both the stainless flatware, whose handles are twisted half a turn, and the white porcelain teacups, whose handles gracefully flow into the bowls, turning them into sculptures.
The aversion to obviousness extends even to the restrooms. You are forced to pay attention to the lovely fixture over the sink if you want to wash her hands; but since its operation is not exactly intuitive, and there is no accompanying manual, you are forced to ponder a moment or few.
But the food. Ahhh, the food. We started with a sashimi sampler ($10.95) to check out that side of the menu and were very impressed. At least two good-size pieces each of five fish, fresh and delicious, from striped bass to both tuna and what's being billed these days as "white tuna" (escolar, because it's known to cause health problems), served with three condiments, none so spicy as to overpower the tastes. A good deal for the price. Various maki rolls are also available as well as tempura and teriyaki. For lunch you can get three pieces of California roll with your tempura, teriyaki, or chicken katsu, for $9.75 or $10.75.
A similar good lunch deal offers 15 main dishes and your choice from a half-dozen appetizers, for $9 to $11, depending on meat or seafood selection. Two of the starters are a dairy-free chicken coconut soup and Tom Yum soup with chicken or shrimp. On my visit they were, respectively, velvety rich and lemongrass tangy, each $4 à la carte. Mushrooms in both were sliced extra thin to eke out the plenty, and shrimp could have been substituted for chicken in the coconut soup at no extra charge.
The Thai dishes are distributed among wok stir-fries, noodles, and fried rice plates, and "Lim's Specialties." Across from me an order of soft shell crabs was being enjoyed — at only $16.50, the most expensive entrée. Crispy and in a flavorful, lightly spicy curry sauce, there were pineapples as well as the more expected onions, bell pepper, squash, and zucchini. The plum sauce on my dish was not as interesting, though that was part of my reason for ordering the "Three Delights" ($13.50). Chicken was predominant among the slices of beef and minimal pork, but I also got some of those pineapple pieces to brighten the dish. The plum sauce may have been subtle, but I did blot up every remaining drop with my accompanying white rice.