I first visited Lim’s shortly after it opened last year, having heard rumors of a great sushi hideaway in Wayland Square. Lim’s debuted on South Angell Street in April 2012 and has already seen enough traffic to necessitate expanding into the next storefront for more seating. The restaurant serves Thai and Japanese food; elegant attention to detail is evident in the décor and platings.
We stopped in on a freezing afternoon and the sushi chef greeted us with a warm smile. We were seated at a cozy table on the original side of the restaurant. The sushi bar is also a choice place to sit, as are the tables by the window - especially for people watching in warmer weather. We decided to order a mix of dishes to get a sense of both the Thai and Japanese offerings. To drink, we shared some Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto ($14) sake, cold. The frigid weather had us craving spicier menu items, but there’s plenty on the menu for the spicy-adverse too.
The Spicy Salmon Tartar ($13) was the most striking dish of the night and tasted just as good as it looked. Diced spicy salmon was layered over a round of chopped avocado and sprinkled with red and black caviar (tobiko). A tiny raw quail egg, still in shell, sat upright on a dab of wasabi. A graceful tree drawn with thick brown sauce decorated the plate, little ‘fruit’ of sriracha dotting the branches. A tiny dragon was fashioned from a slice of lime. This description may sound over the top, but it was absolutely delicate and tasteful.
The Incredible Hulk ($15) was an inside-out roll packed with tuna, yellowtail, salmon, avocado, jalapeño and cucumber. It was sprinkled with wasabi tobiko and cilantro and served with wasabi mayo dipping sauce on the side. On the menu, it was marked with three peppers (very hot) but didn’t have us reaching for a handkerchief – I suspect the heat might depend on the day’s jalapeños. The roll was well constructed and held together when picked up with chopsticks, even if eaten in two bites.
Our Mussels Bomb ($6.95) featured four mussel shells each lined with a piece of jalapeño, then topped with a plump mussel, chopped crab stick in spicy mayonnaise and masago (capelinroe). This was a beautiful dish with balanced flavors and pleasant heat. Our waiter warned us that this appetizer can take about 15 minutes extra to prepare, but it didn’t seem like a long wait.
Though we had already ordered quite a bit, we couldn’t resist a fragrant bowl of soup on a bitterly cold day. I ordered the Coconut Soup ($4), a translucent coconut broth with plenty of sliced mushrooms, organic chicken and cilantro. I’d never had a soup quite like this and it was pleasing and simple. My husband tried the Tom Yum Soup ($4) with vegetables. This classic Tom Yum would please most palates - it was on the sweet side and not too spicy.
Speaking of Tom Yum, I spotted the Tom Yum Margarita ($9.95) on the cocktail list and had to give it a try. It was made with Bombay Sapphire East gin (“East” signifies the addition of lemongrass and peppercorns), Stoli Citros vodka, lemongrass, bird’s eye chili, cranberry and lime juices and galangal – a rhizome with a similar ppearance to ginger. The cocktail was well-balanced and refreshing, with just a note of pepper in the aftertaste.
Since we’d only eaten sashimi and sushi at Lim’s in the past, we chose Thai entrées. My husband opted for the Yellow Curry with Beef ($14.50), made with pineapple, yellow summer squash, peppers, onion and carrots. This bowl full of curry comes with a choice of white, brown or coconut rice to soak up the plentiful sauce. I had the Pad Kee-Mow ($11.75), wide rice noodles with egg, onion and pep- pers. I ordered mine with shrimp, but it can also be made with beef, chicken, pork, vegetables or tofu. The noodles are very wide - wider than pappardelle - and are stuck together in a sweet, delicious sauce.
The dish was large but no complaints here, as the leftovers are just as good the next day. We ended with Mango Sticky Rice ($5.50). A slab of mango was scored into cubes and served with a translucent, warm, sweet rice that will remind you of a comforting childhood dessert. The warmth of the staff and food at Lim’s turned out to be a great way to fight the New England freeze.