Ten Years In A Hole (In The Wall)

Like most worthwhile "hidden gem" ethnic eateries we dream about, Thai Noodle and Rice is nondescript, a dive next to the Shop n' Go on North Fitzhugh near I-75. And fortunately, the shabby exterior seems to promise something good, worthwhile--very different than overfused and overpriced pan-Asian fare served everywhere these days.

Recently four of us shared the fresh basil rolls, the Tom Yum Gai soup, the Panang Curry and the Pad Kee Mao spicy noodles to go, and... Well, I wondered if our reaction ("wow," "oh my God"--that sort of thing) was just the result of moving heavy boxes in biting cold weather during my recent relocation to a new apartment, so I went back this week. I was greeted by the same grinning woman, Pam Kasemsri, who for the past ten years has run the place with her husband, Paul.

Ten years--that's a pretty good record.

I ordered the same food and issued the same response. I won't even attempt to tell you about the sticky rice - just be sure to order it. I've lived in half-dozen cities in ten years, including New York, and this is easily one of the most compelling Thai dives I've found. A regular chatted with one of the waiters about the Thai news being broadcast on the dining room's small television. "Wasn't the major issue the sale of the phone company to Singapore?" he inquired, trying to make sense of the country's recent protests.

The waiter shrugged and chalked the problems up to greed. "He want big power," he said of the disgraced prime minister who stepped down amid widespread demonstrations.

So, not only can you get Kasemsri family recipes you can pick up some of the local perspective on events in Thailand. No wonder a little hole in the wall hangs on for ten years in this market. Just remember to bring cash, because they don't take credit.

--Megan Feldman


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