Don’t Forget About Tina: Tina Thai Review


Robby Haynos/The Bates Student

Tina Thai Express can be found at the corner of College and Sabattus, just a short walk from campus.

You know that Sunoco on the corner of College and Sabattus, next to the Cupcakery and Pure Thai? Have you ever noticed that the sign of that gas station always says things like “Curry Puffs, $1.50, Pad Thai, $5.99?” I used to be confused by that sign. But on this episode of “Robby Likes to Eat at Gas Stations,” we’re covering Tina Thai.

Why, I asked, does this gas station have all my favorite Thai dishes? Well, the answer is because Tina has her restaurant at that gas station, and Tina makes the best Thai food in Lewiston. No disrespect to Pure Thai, Orchid or Bua — you all have my heart — and certainly no disrespect to Mu Noi (miss you terribly) — you are all great businesses with great people, and I’m all about it. But ya’ll ain’t Tina.

Look, I’m gonna divulge more into my strong love for this establishment, but if you haven’t got much time, or you’re bored or whatever, here’s the deal: If you want quality Thai food at cheap prices, very close to campus and fairly quickly, you need to give Tina a call.

Tina grew up in Thailand, and married a man who was a very prominent chef in Thailand, before being invited to cook for a restaurant in the U.S. That was in the 1970s. After roughly 15 years of bouncing from restaurant to restaurant in every corner of the northeast you can imagine, from Newburyport to Dutch Pennsylvania, Tina’s in Lewiston, and she’s doing her own thing. And her own thing is delicious.

“It took me a long time to find a good location,” Tina explained, “and I was hesitant to open up here, because there’s another Thai restaurant across the street, but I think the food we make is different. It’s more street food.” I totally agree.

When I asked if being in the States for so long had changed her methods of cooking at all, Tina responded by making me food, which is possibly the best response to a question I’ve ever received.

Eating it twice a week and all, I thought I had a pretty good knowledge of Thai food, but I had never had chicken gra prao, which is what was prepared for me yesterday. I texted my housemates, “Free Thai food upstairs, I can’t finish it all” before trying the chicken gra prao, which must have made it way more awkward for them when they ventured upstairs to dig into my empty plate. It was really good. Like, really good. Crispy chicken gra prao, egg on top.

And I haven’t even gotten to the curry puffs yet. Oh my God, the curry puffs. If you’ve never had a curry puff before, welcome to heaven. Picture a smooth, flakey crust, with a doughy interior, followed by a smooth, slightly sweet flavor of spices, chicken and potato, gliding through your mouth bite after bite. And they’re $1.50 each. Which means you can buy at least five without breaking the bank past the cost of a Commons meal.

(Is it five? Who knows, I’m a rhetoric major. But I do know it’s good.)

It’s cheap, it’s fast and it’s delicious. Really, really delicious. So, get on down there. Seriously, trust me on this. It’s like a 10-minute walk or a 30-second drive. What have you got to lose?