Friday, May 09, 2008

Suburban Thai

Finding good food when you're out of your geographical comfort zone can be a problem. It's not so bad in Beaverton, since there are several very good Asian places and one heckuva fine Mexican spot right downtown. But go east or south and it gets problematic if you want more than drive-up window fare.

Seafood soup.

Though if you're out 205 in the vicinity of the Kaiser hospital on Sunnyside Road, there's a decent little Thai place tucked into the corner of a strip mall that you'd never find on your own. Called Original Thai BBQ, it looks like your typical Asian cafe with specials on a white board up front and tables placed in neat rows. But order their salad rolls with peanut sauce as a starter and the the whole experience starts to take on a much more interesting cast.

Owner Peter Chuen will undoubtedly be taking your order and bringing out your food, since he never seems to leave the place, and his smiling visage and personal attention makes every trip a treat. Those salad rolls are packed with a nice assortment of veggies with a strip of tofu down the middle, and the peanut sauce is not the glunky stuff served in too many places. Instead it's a nutty, piquant and entirely slurpable (Leo, this means you!) sauce that accents without overwhelming the cool crunchiness of the rolls.

Deep-fried snapper.

This attention to sauces comes through in the other dishes, too, including the pad see ew (photo, top) which all too often consists of rubbery noodles drowned in a sickly sweet sauce. Here the noodles are soft and pliant, and the sauce is slightly sweet with a deep woodsy resonance that hits the comfort spot square on the head. The sauce on the deep-fried red snapper was equally vivid, with the vegetables crunchy yet tender.

The seafood soup was a great find, as well, with a rich herbal broth, thick noodles and extremely fresh and well-prepared seafood scattered throughout the bowl. It's hard to find fault with food this attentively made in a location this unusual. I just wish it was closer to home!

Details: Original Thai BBQ, 9895 SE Sunnyside Rd., Suite A, Clackamas, across from Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital. Phone 503-654-4670.

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