By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Opened in late 1997 by Tha Naporn, who operated Thai Orchid in Fort Worth, Thai Rice serves mostly decent Thai food, better than you'll find in many such places around town. And it has some entertaining menu verbiage. For example, it asks you to indicate the level of spice you prefer for each dish: spicy, hot, and very hot, each demarcated by stars numbering from one to three ("I'll have a three-star panang" is the appropriate protocol, I guess). Then there's the entreaty on the front of the menu: "Let's Come To Eat With Us!" Or at the very least, take an ice-cold lap bath.
Where Thai Rice is consistently good, Thai Noodle & Rice has a couple of very good dishes that stroll with a few stumbles. Despite an indication on the menu that shrimp is not available with this dish, panang was littered with juicy sweet shrimp in curried coconut milk floating crisp carrot, beans, and bell pepper.
Equally tasty was the noodle roll. But the actual dish, a kind of mass culinary hysteria on a plate, didn't jibe with the picture on the menu, which portrayed a thing that looked like a spring roll on steroids neatly bound in polished noodle sheets. Thai Noodle & Rice has large color transparencies of menu items arranged in a lighted display behind the service counter. Anyway, the noodle roll is an intensely flavored mass of ground pork, dried shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu, and pieces of noodle roll in sweetly rich duck sauce heavily spiked with fish sauce--good, if a bit unshapely.
Squid salad was all shape, though. Strips of calamari tubes took on that caterpillar demeanor, only this time the meat was a bit rubbery with a slightly fishy taste. Still, the mix of onion and mint leaves in a lively lime-chili dressing was well balanced.
I swear I thought I found a slice of bone, or a piece of wood, or a petrified cow chip, in the rom kha gai. But the thing submerged in this tart, spicy chicken soup with a coconut-chili paste broth turned out to be a hard, dark brown hunk of galanga. Not as exhausted, but far from energetic, were the kaffir lime leaves (dark green, and stingy in aromatic flavors) floating next to dry but lean strips of chicken meat.
Spicy basil leaves had the herb in name only. I counted just two shriveled strips of the stuff barely clothing a pair of lean, dry pork bits in this lumbering dish. Crisp baby corn and green pepper elevated it a little, though.
Thai Noodle & Rice is parked in a seedy strip mall on North Fitzhugh next to Siam Groceries, both owned by Paul Kasemsri, who operated the grocery store for 17 years before opening Thai Noodle & Rice last summer. Its interior is an odd conglomeration of dirty gray linoleum floor tiles, worn bright blue booths with laminated table tops, and gold-framed French impressionist paintings hung on seafoam-green walls. Plugged into this assembly is an illustration featuring a crowd of Hollywood characters including Rocky and Batman--out-of-place until you consider the fervor with which the French sop up American flicks. Thai Noodle & Rice is a decent place to get adequate-to-good Thai food. Plus, you'll never have to worry about getting chased off the premises by a pack of golfers brandishing nine irons.
Thai Rice Restaurant, 3830 W. Northwest Highway, Suite 390, (214) 350-7331. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Open for dinner Monday-Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 12-10 p.m. $-$$
Thai Noodle & Rice, 2634 North Fitzhugh, (214) 827-5828. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $-$$