Duangrat’s Oriental Food Mart

If I were to tell you that the best Kee Mao/Drunken Noodles I have had in this area came from a super divey grocery store counter, it would seem preposterous – although if you have read any of Tyler Cowen’s stuff come to think of it, you’d find Duangrat’s Oriental Food Mart entirely appropriate.  We’ve been devoted followers of Tyler Cowen’s guide of course – but this is the first time I’ve done something legitimately no frillsy.  If we are talking atmosphere, there is none – just dirt cheap interesting kitchen cooked Thai food.  What’s particularly odd about the experience is that the restaurtant Duangrat, run by these folks – came off as a relatively good but forgettable Thai joint easily surpassed by better fare.  Even around the corner, there is another restaurant run by these folks – Rabieng.  Next door to Rabieng is this grocery store – which is like almost every Oriental grocer known to man, complete with assortment of pickles, spices, alarming looking delicacies and a curious quasi-stale smell (yes this applies more to places like Great Wall than the resplendent Super H-Mart).  But in the corner, yeah back there – to the right – near all those big bags of rice – is a wood counter with a menu of options written.  Clearly the door of the unmanned area is connected to the restaurant next door, though at the counter is a bell to ring.  After ringing the bell (this is no bellhop sort of ding but a loud temple-esque sort of pealing), someone pops their head in, takes your order – you pay at the cashier’s line and they run your food out.  Drunken Noodles and a Bamboo Shoot salad for $14?  In this town?  Obviously this is a terrific price.  The salad was spicy and quite good, though I am not sure how fresh the shoots were, although sitting in the same bag as a hot dish might have hurt it on the drive home.  But the drunken noodles were a revelation – well seasoned and the noodles were well browned.  There was heat, but also the depth of basil and flavor, where it’s not just an endurance test.  It is one of the better versions of the dish I’ve had – and reason enough alone to take it for a spin again.  Certainly if you want Thai in a pinch, it is a lovely option to have at hand.

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