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Best Hole-in-the-Wall Asian Food - 2011
Thai Express - CLOSED
It's small. It can get really hot. It is in possibly the most unappealing shopping center ever. But boy, is it really, really good. Thai Express is a speck in the blemish of a shopping strip on Inwood by Southwestern Medical Center. It's long been an old popular standby for workers at the nearby hospitals, particularly during the $6.99 lunch buffet. Labeling it as a greasy spoon would have been highly accurate in the past, but the restaurant went through renovations six months ago under its new management. The buffet remains intact, and the digs are nicer, but most notable is that the food has gotten even better. The head chef is sister of owner Somchai Kongnuan, and the woman has some serious skills. In a city where Thai food can become formulaic and homogenous, every dish at Thai Express is distinct and stings with palate-pleasing flavor. While attention to the food is certainly important, the other little details that the new regime added tickle as well. The Muzak/bossa nova covers of songs ranging from Nirvana to the Bee Gees playing over the restaurant's speakers are the same tunes popular everywhere in Thailand. Thai Express is the classic hole-in-the-wall find — memorable food and cheeky atmosphere.