We made a voyage to Providence yesterday. Arriving early, we decided to explore a bit and saw a restaurant named Apsara Palace on Hope St. near our destination. I mused that it might be related to the oft-touted Apsara, and the SO went in to find out. It is owned by the daughter of the woman who owns Apsara, and said daughter ran Apsara for many years. That sounded auspicious, so we ended up back there for lunch. The SO ordered Crispy Fish with Lemongrass Sauce, I ordered Tofu Pad Thai (not on the menu as such, but also not a problem), and our 13-year-old daughter ordered Stir-Fried Cantonese Noodle with Chicken. We tried to get coconut pearl tea (yes, that is on the menu) but they were out of pearls, so we settled for Iced Thai Tea. That may be just as well, because places that do not specialize in pearl tea can be just awful.
The crispy fish was really excellent. The lemongrass-imbued curry sauce was superb--not too spicy, so you could taste the wonderful nuances. (I am sure they would make it spicier if you so desired. I wonder if they tone this down for unknown Caucasians....) It came topped with copious quantities of julienned green and red (bell) peppers and onion. Oh yum. I have to find out whether some of the other lemongrass dishes feature the same sauce.
The Pad Thai did not contain the type of noodle I am used to in such. They looked like spaghetti, which was rather frightening, but they did turn out to be rice noodles, thank goodness. This rendition was rather bland. (I think I was so focussed on trying to get tofu pad Thai that I neglected to say whether I wanted the Thai [spicy] or Cambodian version!) However, by squeezing on lime juice and spooning on some of the accompanying nuoc-cham-type sauce, one could turn this into quite the tasty treat.
By my standards, my daughter's Cantonese noodles were rather bland, although she claimed to like them and said she just was not hungry. The chicken seemed to be nicely cooked (and not horribly overcooked, which is so frequently the case), and the broad chow fun noodles were topped with a lot of Chinese broccoli and other greens. I would not order from this category again.
The Thai tea was fine--and I REALLY liked being asked how sweet I wanted it!!!! That is very rare.
The service was extremely friendly and helpful.
In all, it will be hard for us to explore other places when we have so much to try on this menu. Now that we know the hot & spicy dishes are not, we will take that into consideration when ordering. (I was a bit frightened to say I wanted the dishes SPICY after reading that Apsara's dishes could be VERY spicy!)
Oh yes, the details:
783B Hope St.