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Jan 31, 2007 08:23 AM

Thai Food on Par with Dok Bua, Khao Sarn, Brown Sugar?

I keep going back to these three places, but wouldn't mind finding another Thai restaurant in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, or Brookline that approaches the quality of these three. Any suggestions? I'd prefer a sit-down place...

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  1. Montien and Pepper Sky's in Inman and Central are worth a try, though I definitely prefer Dok Bua and probably Brown Sugar also. The Similans is the same as Brown Sugar so I see no reason to try it. Maybe Tamarind House in Porter. I guess Montien would be my #1 suggestion.

    1. Fenian, you must have had a better experience at Montien in Inman than we did. We've only been once, but found it totally unremarkable--"strip-mall Thai", I recall thinking to myself. It wasn't bad, per se, just 100% average. Are there things there that they excel at/set them apart from the crowd?

      For the original poster, Wonder Spice in JP might be worth trying, though with 2 caveats: it's not actually a Thai place, I think it's Cambodian; and the crispy ginger fish is, in my opinion, far and away the best thing on the menu, the rest of the menu (at least that I've tried) being not bad but unremarkable.

      In the interest of full disclosure, I also don't find Dok Bua to be *that* extraordinary. It's pretty decent, I guess, but hasn't knocked my socks off yet. There are a bunch of things there I still have to try, though.

      2 Replies
      1. re: autopi

        I won't go to great lengths to defend Montien. I don't recommend it enthusiastically. I've been three times and have had mixed feelings. I just think that after Dok Bua, Rod Dee, and the Brown Sugar trio there are few clear standouts (maybe Khao Sarn should be thrown into that list, but I wasn't impressed with my two lunches there).

        Montien's atmosphere, at least, is on par with Khao Sarn and Brown Sugar. I actually like their tom yum soup better than the versions anywhere else in Boston. Also, Montien will make food quite spicy if you ask for it, which isn't true for most places in Cambridge and Somerville.

        Maybe the answer is that there is no other sit-down Thai place on par with the ones the OP lists. If Cambodian is in play, I've enjoyed Floating Rock more than any of the Thai places around. I don't think Dok Bua is extraordinary either, but I don't think Boston has particularly great Thai food.

        1. re: fenian

          The authentic Thai menu at Montien in Chinatown (which you have to ask for) is pretty amazing -- I recommend it to anyone looking for _real_ Thai food. I'm not sure if they have this menu at the Inman location, though...

      2. I think the two Rod Dee's are the same level of authenticity as Dok Bua, within the limits of a short menu at a counter service place. The upside is they're cheap-cheap-cheap.

        I like Khao Sarn quite a bit, though some will find the swank atmosphere not worth the higher prices, and they do seem to make some concessions to Western diners.

        Once my favorite, Brown Sugar seems to have lost a big step in recent years, and I never thought the the Comm Ave location was as good. At that level, I prefer the specialties menus at Chili Duck and the Theater District Mon Tien.

        If you find a place better than Dok Bua, please let me know!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Agree with you wholeheartedly re: Rod Dee. Perhaps my favorite of them all.


        2. I have never seen it mentioned on this board, but I think Great Thai Chef in Union Sq Somerville is some of the best Thai in the Boston area. I used to live in the neighborhood and went there regularly (have not been for a year or so, however, mostly for logistical reasons). Their beef salad is top notch, and I have also enjoyed soups, duck dishes, the pad thai and curries. Unlike most Thai restaurants, they are not afraid to turn up the spice (if you ask for something Thai hot, be ready for some fire), and the food is not cloyingly sweet. It is quite inexpensive, not very fancy, and has a funny name, but I think it is definitely a cut above Brown Sugar or Montien (which have never impressed me much), and on par with Dok Bua. I have yet to try Khao Sarn, so cannot compare.

          2 Replies
          1. re: elbev

            I forgot about Great Thai Chef. Definitely a good place, and some truly nice people run the place. I hope they are doing well, but wonder about that location. It is mostly blocked from the main drag, so lots of people probably don't even know it is there.

            1. re: elbev

              Hey elbev -- thanks for posting about GTC. I'm often in the neighborhood and have always wondered about the place but I love Dok Bua and Khao Sarn so much that I've remained loyal. Now your post about beef salad is tempting me to stray. Glad you finally spilled the beans!

            2. I've also liked Sugar & Spice <> in the Porter Square area. Unfortunately I have no idea what "real Thai" tastes like, but I like the food here, and it doesn't taste like every other Thai place.