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June 2004: Crystal Thai

There is lots of color here, some of it supplied by waitresses in traditional Thai silk.

Located in a shopping center off Route 50, this restaurant has an attractive interior. The food is fresh and well prepared, and the prices are right.

Crystal Thai prides itself on its soft-shell crabs. The restaurant offers nine versions, including a spicy one with chili sauce and a moderately seasoned one with basil. Check the price before ordering: Soft-shell crabs have become expensive. Other high-end items worth considering are the whole crispy fish in chili sauce and the honey-roasted duck. There are plenty of dishes under $10, including pork with garlic sauce, sliced beef stir-fried with basil, onions, and chili peppers, and one of the chicken curries.

Unlike Indian curries, Thai curries are cooked in coconut milk and chili paste. They are made from red, green, and yellow chilies and include either potatoes or bamboo shoots. Many diners order the familiar pad Thai, but consider experimenting with one of the half dozen other dishes made from sautéed rice noodles.

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