Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell of a time when there were no sriracha or choo chee sauces in Rhode Island, no lime leaves, galangal, or even a tom yum soup to put them into. No, that’s too uncomfortable. Let me start over and just say that Rim Nahm restaurant is quite a welcome addition to Pawtuxet Village.
It opened about a year ago at a location picturesque enough to inspire a name that means “water’s edge.” Above the Pawtuxet River, it practically shimmers with feng shui beneficence.
A cormorant was diving for fish when we sat down and looked about the pleasant, small interior. There is seating for only 17 on the light-flooded water side of the restaurant, with another dozen places in the corridor and street-side area. Golden yellow and maroon walls compete for attention with lime green and turquoise toward the restrooms. It is like looking around a colorful Bangkok bazaar.
More than a dozen appetizers include items you’d expect, such as spring rolls, scallion pancakes, and chicken satay. But instead of a simple pork dumpling, you can get steamed ones filled with crab meat (crab shumai), or fried and filled with crab meat and pork (hoy jahw). We tried the golden triangles ($4.25), which were deep-fried pearl tofu that provide two contrasts: crisp and soft, and then hot and cold when peanut sauce is spooned onto a steaming bite. I also ordered the tod man pla ($5.25), a half-dozen fish cakes fried golden, not greaseless like the tofu, but flavorful, if spongy, accompanied by a rice vinegar sauce with crushed peanuts similar to the tofu’s.
We couldn’t miss sampling the soups, five of which are offered in individual appetizer portions. The tom yam seafood ($4.50) is one-star hot — of a possible three — and right on the money, to my taste, with chili oil heat and lime juice tang. The seafood consisted of a shrimp, a scallop, and two crosshatched pieces of squid. Johnnie chose the far gentler tom kra kai ($3.50), which is a little too sweet for both of us in its proportion of coconut milk to chicken broth.
Among the half-dozen curries on the menu, the one called mango paradise curry caught her attention. (Its price ran from $8.75 to $12.75, depending on guest ingredient — tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, duck or seafood.) Here the coconut milk comes across as velvety in the plentiful sauce that the vegetables and chunks of tropical fruit swim in. Among the chef specials, she also chose the pad kring ($8.75-$12.75) because of its ginger sauce, and indeed the slivers of fresh ginger are nearly as plentiful as the sautéed bell peppers and onions.
A house special called Fire On the Mountain ($9.75) had been recommended to me, and I wasn’t disappointed. Two-star hot, the exotic spices of the red prik prow sauce nevertheless let flavors come through, so the chicken and cashews can be distinguished amid the mushrooms and vegetables. I also had the khao pad krapow fried rice ($7.75-$11.75), which is a pleasant one-star jasmine rice concoction topped with fresh basil leaves. But next time I’ll go for the pineapple fried rice ($7.75), which sounds interesting: its pineapple chunks are rolled in curry powder and fried.
I heard a woman on a cell phone at another table refer to Rim Nahm as “the pad Thai place,” so I felt obliged to place an order ($7.75 with chicken, pork, or tofu) to go. A sample found it to be pretty definitive, all right, the noodles firm and bits of egg in there as well as scallion.
If we hadn’t ordered so much, the desserts might have beckoned: fried bananas, fried ice cream, and coconut ice cream. Come summer, our friendly waitress informed us, sweet Asianmango will be available, instead of the Mexican mango we’d had in the curry. Containing sweetened sticky rice, that’s a favorite treat of hers.
The front of the Rim Nahm menu proudly declares: “The character of the restaurant allows the playful energies of the Pawtuxet River to flow through and invigorate all who spend time here.” That sounds about right. When we left, patting our tummies, even the cormorant looked contented.
Rim Nahm | 2212 Broad St, Cranston | Tues-Sun, 11:30 am-9:30 pm | Major credit cards | BYOB | No sidewalk-level access | 401.467.7897