SCARBOROUGH — I am always on the lookout for a good lunch specials menu.
They’re usually pretty inexpensively priced, and they often give you a chance to sample several dishes for one low price.
It was the lunch specials menu that convinced me to try Chaba Thai Cuisine on Route One in Scarborough, near the Saco line. I had driven past the fairly nondescript building a bunch of times, but had never found a reason to stop.
Then while browsing Thai restaurant menus online, I found that Chaba Thai offered 10 interesting lunch specials for $8.95, and each included two side dishes.
The list of specials, and of the seven side dish choices, seemed a little out of the ordinary to me. While I love lunch specials menus, often they are limited to the most basic of a restaurant’s offerings. Not so at Chaba Thai.
The menu includes fan favorites like Pad Thai, a Thai red curry and Thai fried rice. But it also includes dishes like Pad Kee Mow, a mix of fresh vegetables, egg and soft flat noodles stir fried with a spicy garlic chili sauce. There’s also Pad Gra Paw, a hot and spicy stir fry of basil leaves, onions, mushrooms and peppers.
The side dish choices include Tom Kha Kai soup, featuring chicken and galanga (a peppery, lemon-flavored plant), in coconut milk with mushrooms, scallions and cilantro. The side dish menu also includes Thai salad with peanut sauce, fried vegetable egg rolls, chicken wings, steamed pork dumplings, a tofu vegetable soup and a chicken Tom Yum soup with chilies, lemon grass and lime.
When I stopped by for lunch recently, I had the Thai fried rice, with tofu vegetable soup and dumplings.
The fried rice had bits of scrambled egg, and lightly fried pieces of carrot, onion, scallion and chicken. The seasoning on the rice was light, not heavy or gloppy like some fried rices.
The dumplings had finely minced pork and came with a flavorful garlic soy sauce. The vegetable soup had little chunks of tofu, and a lot of veggies, including mushrooms, carrots, onions, broccoli, string beans, baby corn and pea pods.
I could have gotten my Thai fried rice, or any of the lunch specials, with shrimp or a medley of shrimp, scallops and squid, for $10.95.
Chaba Thai also has a sushi menu, and bento boxes for lunch starting at $8.95.
Chaba Thai has an extensive menu beyond the lunch specials. There are some 14 appetizers, ranging from four spring rolls for $4.95 to Pla Muk-Tod ($6.95), deep-fried calamari served with a Thai sweet sauce. There is a section of Thai soups, and a separate section of noodle soups.
The place offers about 10 salads, from a simple Thai salad of vegetables for $4.95 to Pla Goong, with grilled shrimp, lemon grass, chili and lime juice, for $9.95.
There are noodle dishes and curry dishes, starting at $9.95, that let you add chicken, beef, pork or tofu to the dish. There are also fried rice dishes and main dishes, starting at $9.95 with a choice of chicken, beef, pork or tofu.
So even if you don’t go at lunch time, there’s plenty on the Chaba Thai menu for under $10.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: