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All full ; Fill up on food that's stick-to-the-ribs good in Yummy Thai

Yummy Thai is a modest little place, newly opened across from the much-loved Riviera Theatre it's the kind of restaurant that was once called a "luncheonette," I guess. Maybe the term is still in use. Yummy is pretty basic in decor without a lot of fancy doodads, and conversations between tables seem to spring up easily. Casual in the extreme.

Yummy says it offers "refreshing Thai cuisine" and while that's not exactly the adjective I might have chosen -- the food is too dense and saturated in flavor for that -- what turns up on the plate is well-balanced in flavor with a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs quality and when you specify "spicy" you get spicy.

We start with the Fried Chicken Spring Rolls (four, cut in half and served with sweet and sour sauce, $5.99) -- crunchy and tasty. (Fresh summer rolls are available after 4 p.m.)

We move on to Papaya Salad ($8.99), a Thai classic dressed up with tomatoes and green beans. The thin dressing carries with it a strong taste of lime and there's a roasted peanut garnish. It's enough salad, easily, for two. The Tom Yum Lemongrass Soup (with shrimp, $4.99) delivers a good chili zing.

By this time we're getting quite full (the Singha beer is not helping the situation) but we soldier on valiantly. Especially delightful are the Street Noodles (with shrimp, $12.99), wide, flat rice noodles, enhanced with green onion and bok choy, egg and ground peanuts. The sauce was light, making for a very satisfying dish.

Then on to a house special, Lemongrass Duck with rice ($19.99). "This is an awful lot of food," the server said nervously. Indeed.

The half-duck was crisp, served in a dark, thickened sauce. It was our favorite dish of the evening and the remains were just as good cold the next day.

And we had just scratched the surface of the menu. All the Thai favorites were there -- Pad Thai, fried rices, Mee Krob (fried noodles), curries, plus the many house specials. Examples: Crisp Soft Shell Crab, stir-fried with shrimp, squid, scallops and vegetables in chili sauce ($17.99) or Shrimp in a Clay Pot with clear noodles, mushrooms and ginger ($13.99) or Eggplant sauteed with meat or seafood ($15.99). With a menu as lengthy as this, Thai Iced Coffee, rich with sweetened condensed milk, will stand in well for dessert.

A lunch special is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, including many of these items from $6.50 and -- here's something different -- a weekend special breakfast comes out from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Sample: Bacon Fried Rice, Omelet Roll and Chicken Dumpling ($7.99). Just another way of looking at a good, old-fashioned American meal if you think of it. And definitely worth a try.

e-mail: janiceokun@yahoo.com

***

YUMMY THAI    

3 stars* (out of 4)    

WHERE: 92 Webster St., North Tonawanda (694-1763, www.yummy-thairestaurant.com). A dinerlike restaurant, the kind that was once called a "luncheonette," serving hearty Asian food. Credit Cards: Mastercard, Visa.    

FAVORITE DISH: Lemongrass Duck    

NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.    

PRICE RANGE: Apps from $5. Noodle dishes from $9. Specials from $14. Lunch specials from $7. Weekend breakfast, $7.99.    

SERVICE: Good    

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.    

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes    

PARKING: On the street.    

* indicates that restaurant is so new that this is a provisional rating.

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