Asian Combo opened on Poole Street in Biddeford in October. Photo by Tim Cebula

BIDDEFORD — It’s always nice when an unassuming, hole-in-the-wall restaurant exceeds expectations.

That was my experience on a recent Wednesday evening with Asian Combo, a new takeout spot at 169 Poole St., former home of Karen’s on Poole Street, a sandwich shop and convenience store. Asian Combo features Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese food, along with boba teas.

When a restaurant takes a multi-cuisine approach, I sometimes worry that it might mean a lack of focus that yields scattershot, lackluster dishes. Asian Combo launched in October and has already built a following of happy customers judging by its Google reviews, so it seemed a roll of the dice was in order.

Its online ordering interface was very easy to use, and told me my food would be ready in about 30 minutes. The menu features around 20 pan-Asian starters ($8.50-$13.75), such as rangoons, samosas, wontons, tempura, spring rolls and dumplings.

The rest of the menu includes a selection of banh mi sandwiches, Thai curries, noodle dishes and stir-fries. I stuck with the Thai cuisine and ordered the laab beef salad ($16.75), a traditional Thai dish often served as an appetizer, and the green curry with chicken ($15.95).

My food was ready when I arrived. The front of the restaurant has a couple of tables and some counter seating around the perimeter, and the store sells a variety of Asian condiments like fish sauce and Sriracha by the cashier area, a nice touch.


Laab Beef Salad at Asian Combo. Photo by Tim Cebula

The food was well sealed in to-go containers, so it was still nice and warm when I returned home. The chopped beef in the laab was loaded with pungent, crisp red onion and plenty of fresh herbs like mint and cilantro, flecked with red chile flakes, and mixed with roasted rice powder, a Thai staple that lends the dish nutty, toasty flavor and a faint crunch as well.

Asian Combo’s online ordering format allows you to choose one of four levels of heat for each dish (mildly spicy, medium, hot and fire alarm). I went with medium for both, and I think I’ll go with mild next time.

Still, when I mixed the laab with some of the sticky white rice and cooling cucumber slices that come with it, the mixture effectively tamed the heat enough for me to enjoy my fill.

Asian Combo’s Green Curry with chicken. Photo by Tim Cebula

The green curry dish had plenty of succulent chicken breast, along with green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, fresh basil and a fragrant, piquant curry sauce. I make green curries at home somewhat regularly, and while this was spicier, I found the flavor just as well rounded and enjoyable. Like with the laab, the curry’s heat was easier for me to handle when mixed with rice.

Some Google reviewers have groused about the prices at Asian Combo, and I have to admit I was somehow surprised that my two dishes came to just over $40 with tip. But to be fair, the laab and the curry contained what I’d consider two servings each, so it was hardly a rip-off. And with food and labor costs as high as they are across the board these days, we need to bear in mind that good restaurant food simply has to cost more than it used to before the pandemic.

I look forward to trying more of the food at Asian Combo, including some dishes unfamiliar to me, like the Lao sausage ($12.95). My meal there was tasty and wholly satisfying, and it left me plenty to enjoy as leftovers, a solid return on a $40 investment.

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