Rod Dee II
Second to none
by Rob McKeown
The counter at Rod Dee II in the Fenway is sometimes so busy that it's hard to
lay a wallet down. To-go bags await their hungry takers. Plastic containers of
pork satay, plump meatballs, and sweet corn with coconut milk are piled like
bananas at a market. Such a helter-skelter welcome makes me smile.
Rod Dee II (along with its older sibling in Brookline) is one of the few places
offering a glimpse of the yummy cacophony that surrounds Thai food in homeland
towns like Chiang Mai, Lampang, and Kanchanaburi. The huge neon-lit menu --
which includes such diverse fare as pad Thai and curries, infamous hot-and-sour
soups, regional treasures, and veggie specials -- is only a hint of what the
cooks here can do.
The green-curry (kaeng khiaw-waan) rice plate ($5.50) is a mountainous bed of
the ubiquitous white stuff supporting a mildly pungent, anise-y green curry
spiked with basil. It's addictive, probably because of the allure of shrimp
paste. Rad na ($5.50), a central Thai staple of noodles in a thick gravy with
broccoli, kale, and chicken chunks, is quite Chinese in its goopiness.
But I like Thai cuisine for its dynamic nature. That's what you get in the larb
gai ($8.95), a warm ground-chicken salad that stuns the palate with its limey
tang, chili spark, garlic and onion bite, and high notes of cilantro. Its
captivating texture comes from toasted and ground rice. The same kind of
four-on-the-floor flavors are apparent in yam wun sen ($8.95), a
cellophane-noodle salad whose cooling toss of shrimp, pork, onions, and that
lime-chili-cilantro spark will convert any pad Thai devotee.
That's the thing about Thai food. Once your palate accepts the wild syncopation
of its tastes, the discoveries never stop. Rod Dee II is a good choice for the
Rod Dee II, located at 94 Peterborough Street, in Boston, is open Monday
through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. Call
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