The Lim family had started Thai restaurants in Boston and Franklin, Massachusetts before opening Tong D, an instant hit in Barrington, in 2009. When the opening crush of guests settled into more steady business, they set their sights on a location in Wayland Square, which opened as Lim’s Fine Thai and Sushi early this year. Nick Aree (left), the Thai chef, was born in Thailand and learned to cook his family’s recipes there. Nookky Pinwanish (above), the sushi chef, learned to cook at the family restaurant in Thailand before emigrating in 2007. He studied with a Japanese sushi master at Haruki before rejoining the family business. It seems that the culinary family has a recipe for success: Lim’s is opening their expanded dining room later this month.
What do you think of the state of the Providence dining scene right now?
Where would you like to see it go?
Nooky: The restaurant business in Providence is growing up. Right now it’s about unique, casual, cozy places. In the next five years, I think consumer choice is going to be a big part. They’re demanding flexibility on menus; they want to be able to pick whatever they want and how they want it. We have to open that up and be flexible.
Nooky: Laotian. Thai food and Laotian food are pretty similar.
Name one Providence area restaurant (other than your own) that you be- lieve should be getting some national recognition, but hasn’t yet. Why?
Nooky: I like Sun and Moon in East Providence. It’s got a homemade style and the taste is great.
Nick: We love Sun and Moon. It’s is some of the best Korean around.
You have the chance to declare a monopoly on one dish or ingredient. What is it and why?
Nookky: Tuna Togarachi. Nowhere else has it. It’s fresh tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, togarachi and sesame seeds.
Nick: It’s different for us. Thai cuisine is like Italian – every family has a different recipe. Every pad thai is different. You can’t tell what’s authentic and what’s not – it’s just to that restaurant’s taste. We’re probably the only restaurant here serving real Thai Basil. It’s hard to serve because it’s only good for a day or two. Our menu is not that big, so our turnover in the kitchen is pretty quick. We can have it fresh to serve to people. Bird’s Eye Chili is a tiny, spicy pepper that we eat in Thailand. On its own, it’s way too spicy for Americans, but we want them to be able to taste what we eat.
It’s late night, you’ve invited some friends/colleagues back to your place and everybody’s hungry. What’s on the menu?
Nick: A Thai omelette. We don’t use cheese in Thai cooking. It looks like a pancake, but it’s egg filled with ground meat and vegetables. It’s good with chili sauce.
Nooky: Sashimi. It’s healthy and it’s perfect for late night.
What are three ingredients you absolutely can’t live without in either your home or restaurant kitchen?
Nick: Herbs are the main ingredient in Thai cooking: ginger, garlic, basil, lemongrass, cilantro.
Nooky: Soy sauce, vinegar and salt.
Name a dish or recipe from a restaurant other than your own that you wish you had throught of first.
Nooky: Bibimbum. It’s Korean. It comes with meat, mixed vegetables, rice and spicy sauce. It’s quick, it’s good and it’s a good value