Cari Taylor-Carlson
Dining

Thai-namite Is Popular For a Reason

Brady Street Thai place is classy, with tasty, reasonably priced fare.

By - Mar 23rd, 2017 02:39 pm
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Thai-Namite. Photo by Joey Grihalva.

Thai-Namite. Photo by Joey Grihalva.

When the server brings our separate checks, he wraps his hand around what looks like the stems of four pink carnations, one for each of us. “That’s so sweet,” my friend says as our server drops them on the table. Since everything else about our meal at Thai-namite spells classy, we’re not surprised by a fresh, take-home flower for dessert. Of course we’re wrong. These are pens, albeit pens which customers are not likely to accidentally drop in a purse or stick in a back pocket.

Flower pen. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Flower pen. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

In this small, popular neighborhood restaurant, so many choices on the menu from stir-fried noodles to fried rice to curry to soup, salad, and appetizers suggest more visits in my future. Sometimes parking can be a challenge as it’s located on the hip Brady Street, but there is usually something nearby on Astor.

The restaurant with its sleek industrial look is filled with light which pours in from floor-to-ceiling windows facing Astor and Brady. From the menu to the walls to the tables, three colors dominate: black, white, and something I’ll call split pea green. Hardwood floors, sparse art, just enough to liven the walls, and a sushi bar complete the toned-down look. Thai-namite manages to come off as both spare and inviting. Inviting perhaps because it’s almost always filled with customers, adding a vibe that says, come on in, you will like the food.

At lunch between 11:00 and 2:00 they offer a special deal on the last page of the menu from which I seldom stray as I am a frequent customer. It’s my nearby, go-to neighborhood restaurant. On a recent visit with three friends, a companion orders from that menu, Pad-See-Ew, a bargain at $8.00 for the entrée and one Spring Roll. She says the flavors of the Spring Roll, a blend of finely ground pork, carrot, cabbage and mushrooms served with a teeny dish of plum sauce, explode in her mouth. Transparent rice noodles complete the filling which wants to escape its crisp shell. The roll doesn’t need the plum sauce, but she orders more ($.50) because it’s eat-with-a-spoon delicious by itself.

For the Pad-See-Ew, she must decide among beef, pork, chicken, and tofu. In the past I’ve ordered pork and chicken and found my Pad-See-Ew contained a generous serving of meat, enough for another meal later. She chooses tofu. The dish, stir-fried to order, lacks traditional Chinese broccoli but common broccoli is a fine substitute. Soft wide, yet thin rice noodles, cubes of chewy tofu and bits of scrambled egg are tossed in a brown sauce with a strong soy flavor. It’s easy to see why this is popular street food in Thailand. It’s quick, simple, delicious.

Also on the lunch menu at that special price is Garlic Pepper, stir-fried meat, with again a choice of meat. Another companion chooses the beef which the chef sautés with a dark rich sauce and serves it on a bed of broccoli, cabbage, carrot, green peppers and pea pods. The menu reads “Lightly sautéed,” but she says they’re actually raw, not a bad thing when they are so fresh and full of healthy flavors. I find a bite of her meat a bit chewy, slightly tough.

The Wrap-A-Pad-Thai, skinny rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, green onions, peanuts and meat, this time chicken, comes wrapped inside an impossibly thin pan-fried egg. It’s bland, but soy sauce takes care of that problem, as do the salty peanuts, adding texture and flavor.

Tom Kha Chicken, a mix of cabbage, green onions, mushrooms, and celery in a creamy coconut soup, tastes of ginger from galangal, a spice from a rhizome that’s common in Asia. Lime juice adds a hint of sour, giving the soup a bright refreshing flavor which could be addictive. Next time I will order a bowl, not a cup.

To fill out my meal, I order Tempura, an appetizer meant to be shared. On this plentiful plate of battered and deep-fried veggies, I find shrimp, pumpkin, asparagus, broccoli and sweet potato. Because the tempura batter is crisp and light and the veggies done just right, I take home leftovers only to learn, tempura batter does not reheat well.

Thai-namite has a sushi bar and a mile-long list of possible combinations. Recently I took a friend who lived in Japan for several years. She assured me the Nigiri, the Sashimi, and the Maki Rolls are first rate. I’ll take her word for it and add a meal at the sushi bar to my recommendation for this unassuming restaurant on Brady Street.

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