Flavorful Lunch Bargain @ Thai Pearl in Ridgefield

Amy Kundrat

If you're looking to give your brown bag a break or if you just can't face another sandwich, you'd be hard pressed to find a better and more affordable lunch alternative than Thai Pearl in Ridgefield. With a prix fixe lunch menu featuring ten traditional Thai dishes and three courses starting at just $8.95, I'd say it's easily one of the most affordable and most satisfying lunches in town.

On a recent snowy afternoon, I began with the shumai as a warm and savory amuse bouche to start the meal. A combination of shrimp, tofu and vegetables fill three wonton wrappers. I presume these are steamed and then pan fried given their chewy exterior and crisp edges, and then finished with a chili and soy sauce. The other lunch appetizer options include soup, salad or spring roll. One course down, two more to go.

There are ten choices for entrees on the lunch menu, or 70 if you consider the protein selections, and although I have yet to work my way through the entire list (the curries and Pad Kra Prow are just too darn provocative), they have all met and exceeded expectations. As if the entree choice wasn't difficult enough, each of the main courses on the lunch menu come with either chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, vegetable or tofu.

For my main course, I opted for the Pad Kra Prow ordered extra spicy with tofu. This old stand-by did not dissapoint. Centered around the flavor of Thai basil and chilis, the dish boasts an array of vegetables including mushrooms, onions, carrots, and red bell pepper which is stir friend in a mixture of fresh chilis, and a hefty amount of basil and garlic that gives this dish its signature flavor. All of their lunch entrees are served over a heaping bed of rice. In addition to the Pad Kra Prow, I've enjoyed and would recommend the Massamun curry and Pad Him-Ma-Pran. Each time I order something spicy, they usually qualify the heat and ask if I want American or Thai spicy. I usually opt for the former because I have been knocked out by the extra Thai spicy. Don't get me wrong, I loved every tear-filled bite, but don't say I didn't warn you.

The third and final stop for any lunch at Thai Pearl is a cup of Tapioca pudding. This is the best way to end a Thai lunch and may be one of the reasons I can't get enough of Thai Pearl. The pudding is a mixture of pearl tapioca, coconut milk, corn kernels and taro root. The sweet coconut milk and chewy tapioca are an excellent complement to the salt and spice of the entrees.

At this point you may pinch yourself, as you come to the slow realization that such a decadent and delicious three course Thai lunch can be had for practically the price of a coffee and newspaper. If you happen to go for dinner you'll be greeted with a much more extensive menu and slightly higher prices. And although they do not serve alcohol, Thai Pearl is BYOB and there is no corkage fee. It's location in a strip mall behind a gas station all but ensures that it rarely gets crowded as I am sure many (unfortunately) opt for the deli around the corner.

If you work in or around Ridgefield I encourage you to "accidentally" forget your lunch, bypass the deli and head to Thai Pearl for a delicious respite in your work day.

Thai Pearl 113 Danbury Road, Ridgefield. 203.894.1424