Popular, pocket-sized outpost serves exemplary Thai cuisine
by Leah Gourley, CitySearch Editorial Review
Some restaurants have broom closets bigger than Rod Dee’s front-of-the-house operation. Six mismatched tables are crammed into what should just be a delivery pick-up window. This is self-service all the way; customers browse dozens of colorful photographs depicting Thai dishes that haphazardly line the walls before ordering at the counter. Service is snappy, but it’s an adequate trade-off for the food arriving hot and as ordered.
Rod Dee serves classic (slightly Americanized) Thai dishes based on curry, noodles or rice and laden with fresh vegetables. The chicken satay appetizer sits in a just-sweet-enough peanut sauce. Pad Thai is a huge portion of tofu, egg and peanut laced noodles, neither too soggy nor too spicy. The menu is not short on spicy offerings-the drunken chicken is soaked in a chili sauce that will light your eyebrows on fire. However, the staff happily adjusts spice levels to your liking.
By Meredith Browne, Crossroads Newspaper, Boston College
Everyone, every once in a while, needs a quick, cheap food fix. Whether once in while is once a week or once a day, the perfect destination for a fast and fulfilling meal is Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine. This little hole-in-the-wall treasure, with its linoleum floor, mirrored walls, and generally run-down appearance, offers the best Thai food around. The large, overflowing, and often steaming portions are ideal for these still cold, but waning, winter days. Very small prices (entrees range from $6-$9) perfectly compliment very large dishes. Tiny and bustling, Rod-Dee is almost always crowded, so be prepared to take-out if tables fail to open up.
Famous for its food and not its atmosphere, some might term this place a dump. They, however, would be mistaken. Rod-Dee’s menu.posted McDonald’s style is neither very helpful nor descriptive. But do not fear; the people taking orders behind the cash register have always been ready to give recommendations and demystify deceivingly simple titles like ‘special chicken.’ Their Pad Thai is a must. The mounds of sweetened rice noodles peppered with egg flecks, Thai basil, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and chicken make this dish my favorite. Diners wary of eating insanely inexpensive seafood should request it with chicken only, omitting the shrimp. A tofu version is also an option for anyone preferring to go meatless.
As an appetizer or small accompaniment, the chicken satay is a tasty choice, especially since Rod Dee’s peanut sauce is bold and lively. Their pineapple fried rice is also a winner. A sweet and hearty plateful brimming with carrot, pineapple, and onion (fellow raisin-haters beware: the sneaky little guys are hidden throughout this dish). Those accustomed to spicy Thai are readily accommodated too. Plenty of smoldering condiments adorn tables, from classic red sauce to sliced peppers in vinegar. A yummy, moderately spicy choice is chicken with spicy basil, which arrives with a mound of ground chicken with basil and sliced peppers resting upon a snowy bed of white, undressed rice. Having had little luck with specials, some of the seafood ones were particularly suspicious, and I was unsure of what I was putting in my mouth. I recommend sticking with the regular menu.
As an added bonus, warm tea is complimentary in the wintertime. Rod-Dee is but a short T ride away, located right off the C-line near Coolidge Corner, a block up from Anna’s Tacqueria at 1430 Beacon Street and well worth the trip. For ordering ahead, their number is 617-738-4977. For anybody ever caught down near Fenway and in need of Thai food, there is apparently a Rod-Dee II on 94 Peterborough. Their number is 617-859-0969. Until next time, warm and happy dining!
By Rob McKeown, Boston Phoenix
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 journey.