August 21. 2018 7:12PM

Our Gormet: Travel the Turnpike to tasty Thai

The gluten-free Beef Satay is served with Thai cucumber and peanut sauces. 

Sweet Ginger

6 Dobson Way, Merrimack; 424-8035;
Handicapped accessible
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Noon to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Cuisine: Thai.
Prices: Appetizers and soups, $3.75-$8.25; lunch entrees, $7.95-$10.50; dinner entrees, $11-$15.75.

Scores for Sweet Ginger
Atmosphere: 18/20
Menu: 18/20
Food: 18/20
Service: 18/20
Value: 19/20
TOTAL 91/100

A worthwhile Thai restaurant with a menu as long as your arm, brisk service and a cocktail lounge serving up refreshing umbrella drinks is waiting for you at the Merrimack Shopping Center.

Two of us recently enjoyed dinner at Sweet Ginger. Judging from the brisk business at the front counter for takeout, it was apparent that those who live nearby had already discovered it.

Take-out service and the cocktail lounge are almost completely separated from the dining rooms, which was a nice bit of planning. On each side of one wall there are quiet, relaxed dinners going on removed from a large takeout business and brisk bar trade.

Anything you can think of that a Thai restaurant would serve is on Sweet Ginger’s menu. Several dishes draw influences and serving styles from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and even Indian cuisine. These include udon noodles, hot-spicy duck, kimchee and mango salsa.

Sweet Ginger would be a great place to experiment with various exotic tastes without breaking the bank.

Tom Yum Soup ($3.75) is a must-have at any Thai establishment, and SG’s version delivers. It was a medium bowl, steaming hot, with about a handful of sliced mushrooms in the spicy broth. It was a great start, along with one of those umbrella drinks you are supposed to share.

Two very good appetizers followed the soup.

Four skewers of gluten-free Beef Satay ($6.50) came with small bowls of Thai cucumber sauce and a peanut sauce, but the beef was so tender and juicy, and nicely flavored right off the grill, we hardly touched the sauce.

Similarly, four simple Thai Rolls ($4.95) came crispy from the fryer with peanut and pineapple sauces. Great flavor — both from the chicken and veggie filling and the crusty rolls — stood on its own, but some slices from the rolls found their way into the Tom Yum so we could soak up the soup.

It was tough to decide what to order for our entrees. All told there must be more than 125 items on Sweet Ginger’s menu. Choices range from stir-fry veggies, meat, seafood and chicken dishes to nearly three-dozen SG Specialties, and to all kinds of seafood, curry, noodles, rice and vegetarian dishes and salads.

The Red Curry Scallops ($8.50 lunch, $13.25 dinner) featured a large bowl of spicy red curry sauce filled with a solid serving of steamed sea scallops, crunchy fresh green beans, thick slices of eggplant, pea pods and bell peppers. Additional flavoring comes from floating basil leaves.

The only problem with this dish is that the Asian-style soup spoon is too small for large vegetables making it hard to eat. The four-inch long sliced green beans just didn’t fit in the spoon.

We adapted quickly, putting the vegetables onto a separate plate and slicing them into bite-sized pieces, then returning the veggies to the delicious curry sauce and seafood.

Sweet Ginger Chicken ($8.75 lunch; $13.25 dinner) was another entree we sampled, and this was also a winner. Two large filets of chicken breast were grilled and well-seasoned with ginger and Thai spices, along with a serving of delicate, but well-cooked thin rice noodles, and a bevy of vegetables.

The chicken was accompanied by sweet chili sauce and more of the peanut sauce. The vegetables, including steamed broccoli, sauteed carrots, zucchini and yellow squash, were bursting with fresh, crunchy taste.

The bean-thread rice noodles were delicious, and we took note for a future visit that they are featured in a half-dozen entrees from the Noodles & Fried Rice section of the menu.

We could not finish our meals, so a good portion of the SG chicken and a small serving of leftover veggies from the curry dish filled a take-home box.

There are a handful of desserts on the menu. Vanilla Fried Ice Cream ($4) — a large scoop of vanilla ice cream with a breaded coating, deep fried and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream — ended our meal on a cooling note.

We live about 20 minutes from Merrimack, but it will be worth the drive for future visits. Sweet Ginger is large, bright and cheerful, and the service is excellent.

We enjoyed a bowl of soup, two appetizers, two entrees, one cocktail and one dessert — for less than $58 including tax, before gratuity.

That’s value, and it was a delicious meal.