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Aroi Thai Food dishes many lesser-seen or new-to-Springs items 

click to enlarge Thai sausages are one unique Aroi item in town. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Thai sausages are one unique Aroi item in town.
Here’s a first for me: a panang burrito, an amalgamation of Tex-Mex and Thai food, decidedly something a stoner would enjoy eating. Really, it’s just the familiar, mildly sweet and not-too-spicy curry, sparingly sauced with ample white rice so as not to overwhelm a thick flour tortilla. Glad to have done it once, probably won’t do it again.

I’m much more impressed by another, more traditional, new-to-me (and the Springs, I believe) item that Aroi Thai Food and owner/chef Marasri “Fon” Halter present: Northern-style Thai minced pork sausages — a plump, creamier, not too biting garlic option, and a drier, herb style spiked strongly with lemongrass. Each bears enough character to not require a dip (we tried bites in a side order of peanut sauce, which buried flavors), and Fon’s soon to release another variant that stuffs the garlic sausage with cilantro and tiny glass noodles.

Fon, who hails from the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum, otherwise tends to stick to a common American Thai menu built out of popular Bangkok street food and recognizable curries and the like. Well, with the exception of a Laos-style variant of the popular papaya salad, for which Fon mixes her own anchovy sauce with garlic, lime leaves and lemongrass. It’s one of the most intense, challenging foods I’ve ever put in my mouth — and I prefer anchovies on a Caesar salad — accurate for Thai palates I assume, but I couldn’t get past the ripe pungency that had me thinking I’d suckled an aquarium. My guest said it reminded him of how Kodiak, Alaska, smells.
Location Details Aroi Thai Food
5815 Galley Road
Powers
Colorado Springs, CO
247-8471
Asian
For smoother sailing, stick to the Thai papaya salad, or Aroi’s excellent squid spicy salad, highlighting knife-scored segments of fresh (not too chewy) squid atop a crisp, refreshing medley of cabbage, onion, cucumber, celery, tomato and carrot, all dressed in a heat-bringing chile paste-lime-fish sauce dressing sweetened by a touch of palm sugar. Or on a cold night, little beats a bowl of tom yom goong soup, and Aroi’s rendition sings superior, its thin broth balanced perfectly with tamarind sourness, and lime leaf, lemongrass and galangal citrus notes, plus floral chile paste heat. Juicy tomatoes add complementary acid and shrimp come just done, still plump and tender.

Come entrées, pineapple curry with tofu tastes predictably and pleasantly sweet, with silken chunks blending into the rice. Pad Thai Woonsen, the version of Pad Thai with mung bean thread noodles instead of vermicelli, smacks a little drier and tacky, but I enjoy the texture and lighter feeling of it. Kow Soy Curry, another Northern-style dish also popular in Myanmar, features a yellow curry broth over egg noodles, with pickled shredded greens; ordering it with seafood means a mix of squid, baby scallops, white fish, mussels and shrimp, pretty generous at $12. Lastly, Khao Moo Daeng presents a mound of jasmine rice under red-rinded pork slivers and oddly caramelized (candy-like) Chinese sausage slices, classically served with a half hard-boiled egg, cilantro and green onion garnish, and a fairly translucent sweet tangy sauce, plus a side ramekin of red chile sauce. It’s different and interesting.

Aroi’s menu features vegetarian and vegan sections, too. They also make highly sweet Thai or green tea vegan with coconut milk subbed for typical condensed and/or evaporated. Glad to have done this once, will definitely do again. Aroi, which means “delicious,” manages to distinguish itself in many fine ways.

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