Sunday, May 25, 2014

Garlic lovers are flocking to Wondee's in Hackensack

Ocean of Garlic is an apt description for this wonderful seafood entree at Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles in Hackensack, above and below.

Minced fresh garlic and black pepper clinging to shrimp, scallops, squid and mussels. I didn't eat the rice that came with the dish, but still took home leftovers.


In more than 15 years of loyalty to the wonderful Thai food at Wondee's in Hackensack, I got into a rut.

I always ordered Thome Yum Koong, a spicy soup with lemon, shrimp and mushrooms, and Som Thum, the refreshingly fresh green-papaya salad.

They were followed by Pla Ma Now, a steamed whole fish with chili pepper, garlic and lemon juice, served on a fish-shaped, heated metal dish.

Branching out

Now, I'm exploring the extensive menu and, on Saturday night, I hit the garlic lover's jackpot:

Ocean of Garlic, a delightful platter of fried seafood, with a salad of pickled cabbage and carrots on the side, and a small bowl of white rice ($18). 

The shrimp, scallops, squid and mussels were beautifully fried and grease-free; piled on top of romaine lettuce leaves and garnished with cilantro. 

Our server said Chef Wandee Suwangbutra uses minced fresh garlic for the dish.

I've noticed this dish before, but never ordered it, because other family members don't eat squid, scallops or mussels.

An appetizer of Satay BBQ ($6). Four skewers of chicken or pork are served with a peanut sauce and a cucumber salad in a sweet dressing.

I never tire of Som Thum, a salad of crunchy fresh green papaya dressed in lemon juice, chili, peanuts, green beans, tomato and ground dried shrimp ($8) -- a dish that is savory, sweet and spicy. The salad also can be eaten wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves lining the plate.

Thome Yum Seafood adds squid, mussels and scallops to the shrimp-only soup I once ordered on every visit. A small bowl is $4 and a large bowl is $12.

Meat eaters in the family are loyal to Geuw Nam, a wonton soup with lots of roast pork ($3.50 and $9).

Thai Fried Rice includes shrimp, pork, egg, onion and sweet pepper ($10.50).

Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles, 296 Main St., Hackensack; 201-883-1700. BYO, metered street parking until 6 p.m., except Sundays, and rear parking lot off of Camden Street. Closed Mondays.

A corner of the L-shaped dining room. Go for the food, not the dated decor. Cloth napkins are put out after 5 p.m.

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