April 10. 2018 10:23PM

Our Gourmet: Manchester eatery is still a winner after 25 years


Lakorn Thai has been a popular choice for Thai cuisine lovers for more than 25 years. The small eatery, nestled in a small strip mall on South Main Street, has won dozens of awards and favorable reviews over the decades. No fewer than six Union Leader Readers’ Choice Awards decorate the walls.

We had not visited Lakorn in some years, so we decided to make our way back there, and feed our friends as well.

Six of us on a recent weekend made our choices from the menu and called in an order for a late afternoon meal at home.

We like restaurants that package food well for take-out, and Lakorn’s value pricing adds to the attraction.

Lakorn was busy at the lunch hour that we picked up our food. Nearly every table was filled and the kitchen was humming with take-out orders. The aroma of peanut sauce, chili sauce and Thai spices fills the restaurant of about a dozen tables (and that same aroma fills the house when you re-heat Lakorn food, too.) Inside the bistro, a wide-ranging collection of Thailand artwork, buddhas and restaurant awards adds authenticity and interesting perusal for patrons.

Our party ordered 11 items for less than $75. The two soups and three appetizers were a bit small for sharing among all of us, but there were so many items to taste among those and the six entrees, our order more than filled the bill. The six lunch plates were plenty, and we had food left over for later on.

No one except us Gourmet reviewers wanted to try the traditionally hot and very spicy Tom Yum Soup ($3.50), but others needn’t have worried. Lakorn’s Tom Yum is not as spicy as other Thai restaurants’ versions, but it is just as satisfying with large chunks of tomato, mushrooms and chicken (or shrimp or squid) thoroughly flavored and spiced with the broth, lemon grass, chili and lime juice.

The Giant Hot & Sour Soup ($3.50) with shrimp was also on the mild side, leaving plenty of taste buds intact for enjoyment of the pineapple chunks, onions and hot peppers.

Those are two good soups to get any meal started.

We enjoyed Golden Bags, Bangkok Wings and the Tod Mann apps ($4.50 each), and especially enjoyed the Golden Bags’ construction of wonton skin “bags” tied at the top with seaweed strands and lightly deep-fried, with the mixed chicken and corn inside the bag spilling forth its bounty when put to the fork.

Our main plates delivered all manner of chicken, duck, seafood and tofu, mixed with vegetables and accompanied by flavor toppings and white rice.

To add to the rice, we ordered a Hawaiian Fried Rice plate ($8.45), which was loaded with fruits and vegetables and curry flavoring. Bits of egg mixed with the rice along with raisins, pineapple, green peas, onions, scallions, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes in this outstanding dish, which would have been an overload of rice as an entree, but was the perfect accompaniment to some of the meals we ordered.

With half a dozen full orders, space does not permit a thorough description, but the highlights are memorable, and our three top recommendations are:

1) Duck and Shrimp Chili Sauce ($9.25): This juicy roasted duck is nestled with spicy chili sauce and shrimp, and flavored with ginger, peppers and garlic;

2) Siam Mango Shrimp & Chicken ($9): Shrimp and chicken sauteed with baby corn, carrots, green and red peppers, onions, tomato and curry powder;

3) Eggplant & Thai Basil ($8): Perhaps the best of the bunch, with a smoky flavor from the eggplant, basil and brown sauce. The thin-sliced eggplant and chicken (or choose duck, scallops, tofu beef, shrimp, squid or veggies), were sauteed with mushrooms, along with scallions and onions.

We would be remiss if we didn’t also mention one of the curry dishes popular at Thai bistros. Red Curry Tofu ($8) carried the classic curry and coconut taste with large-sliced and sauteed tofu, bamboo shoots and vegetables.

That went fast and sent us to the cupboard to see if we had the curry paste and coconut milk to make some of our own.

Fresh is big at Lakorn, and every kind of vegetable is available.

Our Scallops & Duck Oranges ($9.25) had an amazing display of sliced oranges and thick, crunchy, waffled-sliced carrots on top of the tender, juicy duck meat and bay scallops.

We had more tastes of what Lakorn has to offer than should be allowed, all for a value-minded price for a meal for six (OK, one was a medium-sized child who didn’t eat that much), and we adults are thrilled to see Lakorn Thai still going strong.