For many years a Chinese restaurant called the August Moon stood just opposite the Morristown train station. After it closed more than a decade ago, the premises remained boarded up, until last year, when Sandy Vithanage, who owns Déjà Vu in Montclair, opened her second restaurant, Andaman Sea Recipes, in the old building. The place, now owned by Paul Kanchasakul, received a complete overhaul, with attractive wood furniture, mirrors on the walls, and Asian vases tucked into alcoves.
Although the menu features a few non-Asian items, the best dishes are the Thai offerings, from classics like beef or chicken satay to a fusion dish of soft tender calamari with plum sauce. Flaky curry puffs, steamed chicken dumplings, and the various Thai spring rolls are all worthwhile starters. But my favorites are the larb—a salad of minced chicken or pork, with onion, lime juice, chili and mint over greens—and the Peking Duck salad of roast duck with pineapple and cashews among the greens. Tom yum koong (hot-and-sour shrimp soup) and tom kha gai (chicken-and-coconut-milk soup with lemongrass) are also excellent.
Main courses are just as enticing, particularly a special offered when I visited: the whole striped bass with Thai herbs and citrus vinaigrette; the fish is crisp outside but nicely moist within. Just as good is a soft-shell crab with a Penang curry containing chopped shrimp, onion, bell pepper, asparagus, lime leaf, and chili in coconut milk. Other standouts include the Massaman gai curry (chicken, avocado, peanut, and onion) and the crisp, crunchy tamarind duck with a pungent tamarind sauce. Snapper with an Asian-style crust, served with spinach and eggplant tempura and a Sauvignon Blanc sauce, is a true blend of East and West. Many dishes are offered with your choice of meat, poultry, shellfish, or tofu. Most dishes are served with rice in a small covered bowl.
For dessert, order the ginger crème brûlée, Thai pumpkin custard, warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, or, for something different, the delicious taro pearls in coconut cream.
Reviewed: November, 2005.