Best of Boston

2003 BEST Thai Restaurant

Khao Sarn Cuisine

Unlike the now-ubiquitous Asian fusion restaurants it resembles, this Coolidge Corner newcomer serves food that is authentically exotic. Fortunately, the knowledgeable waitresses excel at coaching diners who might otherwise steer past the Northern Thai specialties and play it safe with spring rolls and pad Thai. The miang kum appetizer (roll-your-own packets of baby spinach leaves filled with bits of lime, coconut, peanuts, fresh ginger, onion, and dried shrimp) reveals a different texture and flavor combination with every bite. The haw moak (chicken or salmon seasoned with red curry and coconut milk and steamed in a banana leaf) brings a hint of heat, but not too much. Spicy dishes—and there are many here—are rated on a scale of one to three chile peppers, and the kitchen doesn’t sacrifice subtlety when adding fire. If you still manage to torch your taste buds, you’ve got an excuse to order the soothing mango sticky rice for dessert.

250 Harvard St. Brookline 617-566-7200 khaosarnboston.com/