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Aroma Thai Tasty Food, Great Service

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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2019 10:14 am

Lunchtime at Aroma Thai can be a feast if you wish it to be. Lunch specials consist of a whole page that comes with an egg roll and soup - and if you top that with dessert you are sure to leave the restaurant happy and full.

I did that recently with my husband when we went to Aroma Thai on a rainy day. We parked right in the back of the restaurant and headed for the back door. A few diners were there chatting happily and enjoying their meals. A friendly waitress told us to sit anywhere and we chose the cozy table with a bench by the wall with lots of colorful throw pillows featuring elephants. I found the decor attractive with typical Thai scenes on the wall and an overall color scheme of green and golden brown tones.

Our waitress, Apple T., was friendly and helpful pointing out the Lunch Specials menu served until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. When I say there are a lot of choices on the lunch menu I mean it - with 24 of them exactly. Diners can chose a variety of meats - chicken, pork, shrimp, calamari seafood, scallops and even vegetarian choices like mock chicken, duck or tofu.

Some of the dishes have a chili pepper next to them pointing out spiciness. I almost decided to order the Aroma Basket which seemed tempting. It is served in a crispy noodles basket topped with shrimp, chicken, bell pepper, onion, cashew nut, bamboo shoot and carrot with homemade spicy sauce. In the end I decided to order the Thai Orange Chicken, a familiar dish. Dan ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken and Won Ton soup as an appetizer.

Because we ordered from the lunch special, it came with a soup and spring roll. We quickly had a Tofu soup in front of us which was tasty and warm - perfect for a rainy day. Dan ordered a Won Ton soup and shared it with me.

When our food arrived, I found the orange chicken very crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with just the right amount of orange sauce, which I mixed with the white rice. It was delicious. The dish came with a spring roll which I dipped in the sweet and sour sauce which came with it. Dan’s Sweet & Sour Chicken was light and tasty with lots of vegetables - cucumbers, small ears of corn, mushrooms, pineapple and onions.

Aroma Thai has a number of tempting desserts: Fried Ice Cream, Sweet Rice with Mango, Sweet Rice with Custard, Green Tea Ice Cream and lastly Fried Banana with Ice Cream, which we ordered. This delicious dessert came with four rolls (the same shape as spring rolls) filled with bananas around vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and cherries. We dipped the banana-filled rolls in the ice cream and that gave the dessert just the right of amount of sweetness. The ice cream tasted homemade and was absolutely delightful.

Aroma Thai owner Vorawut Leelavarodom, who is originally from Bangkok, bought the restaurant from the previous owner 11 years ago. He decided to keep the name and improve on what was already there. The first few years he, his wife and two friends ran the restaurants and Leelavarodom spent a lot of time cooking.

He first came to the U.S. to study for his MBA at a school in Kansas. When he graduated he moved to San Diego and worked in the restaurant business starting at the bottom and working as a dishwasher and eventually a server. “After I was a server for a couple of years, the time came to do something else,” he said.

A friend told him that Aroma Thai was for sale in Imperial Beach. Leelavarodom had a good impression of the city, liked the fact that it was quiet and bought the restaurant. Leelavarodom then set to work to find out what had gone wrong with the restaurant under the previous owner and how he could improve the eating experience at Aroma Thai.

“I asked customers and wanted them to try my Thai food and return,” he said.

Leelavarodom changed the menu and the restaurant became successful. He continues to make improvements and changes to the menu to this day to give options to his customers.

Over the years he has opened two other Thai restaurants. One called Noodle Noodle which is more of a take out place and Leela Thai in Santee. “The flavor is different at each restaurant. I make it for local people and make what they like,” he said of the dishes.

Leelavarodom can often be found in the kitchen at Aroma Thai or tasting the food to make sure the dishes are up to his standards. He prides himself on the fact that his restaurant is affordable and since he has opened the restaurant in IB, prices have been raised by only $1. “I want them to enjoy and afford the food,” he said of his customers.

Leelavarodom loves to be able to solve problems that come up at each of the restaurants. “I enjoy solving problems, seeing my customers come back. I stop and say hi to them, some of them have been coming to Aroma Thai for many years,” he said.

Aroma Thai 757 Seacoast Drive. Hours: everyday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call (619) 941-1656 or log on Aroma Thai food can be taken out or delivered through UberEats, Grub Hub and more.

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