story and photography by Nikola Tzenov
For more than 20 years, Tim Thai Restaurant has been serving authentic Thai cuisine in Westminster. The restaurant’s owner and head chef, Tim Thammavongsa, believes in using fresh ingredients and unique spices (imported directly from Thailand) in every dish he creates. Tim originally learned to cook traditional Thai food from his uncle, but says he travels back to Thailand regularly to seek additional training and learn new authentic dishes.
Today, Tim continues to operate the restaurant with the help of four others, including his cousin, who started and ran the business for its first 11 years. Tim explains that not much has changed in the 10 years he’s been at the helm: The restaurant is about the same size, the menu offerings remain authentic, and their location on Main Street in downtown Westminster still provides a mix of regular customers and new faces. When asked what the biggest change has been, he mentioned the growing trend of customers opting for take-out or delivery, which is why he now has three delivery drivers and offers his menu across four food-delivery services such as GrubHub and DoorDash.
Speaking of his menu, Tim is proud of the fact that the majority of his nearly 100 dishes are authentic Thai cuisine. His most popular dish, he says, is Pineapple Fried Rice — featuring steamed jasmine rice sautéed with yellow curry powder, egg, shrimp, cashew nuts, tomato, onions, scallions, and fresh pineapple — all piled high on a half-pineapple shell. The flavors in this dish are a mesmerizing balance between savory and sweet.
For those hoping to try something with a little more kick, the Gang Massaman lets you pick your choice of protein, such as chicken, pork, or beef to pair with the massaman curry — made with coconut milk, potatoes, onion, and peanuts. Tim’s menu is marked to indicate how spicy the dishes are, but notes that most meals can be customized to remove, or add, the heat.
If you’re interested in a delicious dish with Maryland flair, the Curry Powder Soft Shell Crab offers a deep-fried soft-shell crab stacked on top of a flavor-packed curry with onion, scallions, bell peppers, celery, basil and egg. If you’re not a fan of soft-shell crabs, but want to stay in the seafood department, then the Black Bean Sauce Fish is for you. Deep-fried cod sautéed with scallions and onions in a black bean sauce delivers a unique and very pleasant taste. For the less adventurous, consider a classic option like Pad Garlic with Shrimp, a delicious garlic sauce served with steam broccoli and fried shrimp piled on top.
Tim is always excited to meet new folks and will gladly offer recommendations, although he might be a little biased towards the Drunken Noodle, which he says is his personal favorite. The restaurant also offers both beer and wine, so there’s no reason not to dine in and share a meal with friends.
If you’re still not sure, then I suggest stopping by Tim Thai for their wide selection of $10 lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu offers everything from classic appetizers and entrees, to soups and desserts like coconut ice cream and mango sticky rice, so there’s definitely something for everyone — as long as you don’t come on Tuesday, when Tim Thai is closed.