HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
What's your latest food quest? Share your adventure

Philly: new Thai on Chestnut btwn 20&21st

PattiCakes Nov 18, 2008 08:58 AM

Has anyone tried this yet? Next to Fuji Mountain, and in the spot where a Chinese take-out used to be.

  1. rabidog Nov 30, 2008 08:41 AM

    well, i went, based on a foobooz tidbit that was practically written verbatim from thoughts that have gone thru my own head... something along the lines of: i hate people who lament "you can't get that in philly like we had it in x city" - love thai food - and not to be hypocritical but really, you can't get that in philly. and they said they could now take that statement back as a result of this new place. i'm always dubbing thai restaurants here "TGIthaidays" to my friends - not that any of them are offensively bad (exception: pad thai shack) but none are especially good, either. nothing special, nothing to write home and/or blog on chowhounds about, nothing i can't make in my own home thanks to an AWESOME thai recipe webpage from this very message board (somewhere over on home cooking). anyway. so i was REALLY excited to try this place, like salivating at the jowls. and it was... so very underwhelming. tom kha gai was watery, not very spiced at all, bland chopped tofu, too many vegetables for not enough flavor. main course, drunken noodles, not spicy at all, very oily, same boring chopped tofu, not cooked well at all. i was so disappointed i didn't even go for dessert. foobooz let me down! so my quest for something better than "just passable" thai in philly continues. closest to hit the mark so far has been trio followed by cafe de laos. erawan is a close third but a recent takeout from there was disappointing as well. seriously. am i just asking for too much??

    10 Replies
    1. re: rabidog
      PattiCakes Dec 1, 2008 08:05 AM

      It could be that I was just so happy to have a Thai place close to my office that my impressions were colored by that. It's also possible that my limited experiences with Thai food have led me to accept what a real afficianado would consider just "nyeh". I wonder if they are holding back on the level of spice to accommodate what they think is an acceptable level for a westerner.

      We used to go to Erawan & that was "ok" -- again, it was Thai & we could walk to it for lunch. The place I REALLY like is in the 'burbs: White Elephant, in Huntingdon Valley.

      I'll go back to this place again either this week or next & report back. I may ask to nhave the spice level kicked up a notch.

      1. re: PattiCakes
        rabidog Dec 1, 2008 09:53 AM

        definitely do. both me and my friend ordered 'one pepper' items and we really could not taste that one pepper!! let us know how it goes!

        1. re: rabidog
          lawgirl3278 Dec 23, 2008 11:09 AM

          I just came back from this place. I saw in the paper that the owners are the same owners of Nadia's Noodl in Media, and I love Nadia's so I was excited.

          They offer a great lunch special - soup/app/entree for $8-12! I ordered the ravioli soup, a spring roll and pad ke mao w/shrimp. The soup was a tasty clear broth with 2 nice sized shrimp/pork dumplings - very tasty. The spring roll was the standard spring roll, nothing out of this world but still decent. It had mushrooms in it which was a nice surprise.

          The pad ke mao was just as delicious as Nadia's...although I will admit it was less spicy. It came with 4-5 nice sized shrimp.

          Service was quick and very friendly. I was out of there in an hour, satisfied but not overly full, all for the price of $11.27! I'm very psyched to some decent Thai walking distance from my office, just for the soups alone this time of year. I'd say if you're in the area and looking for good food on the cheap, definitely check it out.

          1. re: lawgirl3278
            megmosa Dec 26, 2008 11:10 AM

            I tried the restaurant a few weeks ago right after it opened too. I was also disappointed. I liked that the ingredients were fresh tasting and the food wasn't especially salty (like Erawan often is), but I thought the same as Rabidog -- watery and flavorless.

            1. re: megmosa
              rabidog Dec 27, 2008 08:02 PM

              i just got back from a trip to the DC area, where i had thai for lunch. with this and several other recent philly thai memories on the tongue, i was curious to see if i was over-hyping my former hometown's offerings. for lunch today, we went to a mini-chain there and i was again blown away by the spices and heartiness of the dish. had a noodle dish similar to pad kee mao with mussels and squid and scallops and shrimp and crabmeat with green beans, in a spicy roasted chili sauce. i did notice somewhere along the way they ditched the hot hot HOT peppers that used to grace nearly every dish there, but it was still sufficiently spicy and packed full of flavor like thai food should be (or at least, how i like to think it should be)! now that i'm home, i'm just gonna be mopey for a bit. why oh why can't i find this here? :)

              anyway, is anyone else here a drunken noodles freak? if so i'd be curious to know where you've found them. two decent renditions that i haven't mentioned recently are at thai pepper in wayne (also the shrimp-corn cakes here are not to be missed!) and shangrila in devon.
              i really want to try the thai place in manayunk... i heard they just opened up a bistro-lounge-type place... has anyone been there? i know the main restaurant has been mentioned favorably here before.

              1. re: rabidog
                PattiCakes Dec 28, 2008 09:24 AM

                There is a decent Thai restaurant in Huntingdon Valley, called White Elephant. Not cheap. BYOB. Looks cheesy from the outside since it's tucked into an interior corner of a strip mall, but lovely inside. Your mention of the shrimp & corn cakes reminded me of it.

                I am beginning to think that my experience with Thai food is so limited that I am happy (thrilled) with food that to a more experienced Thai eater would be only so-so. Ignorance is bliss??

            2. re: lawgirl3278
              PattiCakes Dec 27, 2008 06:35 AM

              I think they "dumb down" the spice for what they perceive their patrons' tastes will be. They will kick up the seasoning on request. I've been back a few times for lunch & am very pleased that there is a nice Thai place near my office, especially with that nifty lunch special.

              1. re: PattiCakes
                PattiCakes Jan 14, 2009 09:25 AM

                I went back again today for lunch. Someone must have been listening because the spices have been kicked up. The Tom Yum soup and the green curry had a higher heat level than they seemed to have in December -- I probably could have asked for spicier if I had wanted to, but I just ordered them straight up from the menu. On prior visits, the off-the-menu versions had virtually no kick at all. The place was crowded (not packed) for lunch, the most crowded I have seen it to date.

                1. re: PattiCakes
                  jessicheese Jan 14, 2009 10:42 AM

                  I saw it written up in Phillyweekly.com and the reviewer enjoyed their meal, but complained about Thai places dumbing down the spice. They must have read it and took the critique to heart.

                  1. re: jessicheese
                    rabidog Jan 15, 2009 09:42 AM

                    yep, i've seen that in a few places - citypaper also, i think. good to know. i am going to give them another shot.

      2. mlplyons Nov 29, 2008 05:21 AM

        Went there yesterday to do takeout-precisely because of this board. Had pho. It was very good but not as rich as I was expecting. Nonetheless, still very good. Will try their lunch soon. Am excited about a good Thai so close to my office. . . .

        2 Replies
        1. re: mlplyons
          PattiCakes Nov 29, 2008 05:53 AM

          I'll be going back this coming week for lunch. I've never had pho, but keep reading about it. Have you tried the Korean place just a few doors away?

          1. re: PattiCakes
            mlplyons Jan 12, 2009 08:37 AM

            Yes, it was delicious.

        2. n
          newgourmet Nov 18, 2008 09:47 AM

          Hello. I never there. But I did in scranton pa. Oh my ..there food absolutely AMEZing . I and my friends ate there many time. they food and service the best. when i past there I always stop to eat there. That the name Thai rak Thai restaurant. I also can cook thai food. But sometime get lazy.. ..Let they cook and I eat..fun...

          10 Replies
          1. re: newgourmet
            Restaurant Examiner Nov 18, 2008 05:24 PM

            Nope, we grabbed a menu from there the other day though and I was wondering the same thing!

            1. re: Restaurant Examiner
              PattiCakes Nov 19, 2008 04:51 AM

              I think I am going today with a friend & will report back. If we are in the mood for Thai, we usually go to Erwann, but that's a bit more of a hike from my office, and is what I would consider a restaurant rather than just a lunch spot. Is the new place is more take-out than sit-down -- along the lines of the old Pad Thai Shack that was replaced my Mamma's on 20th St?

              There have been a lot of new places popping up in that general area of Chestnut. I like the Chinese place that's just the other side of 21st, where the old Two Red Boots used to be. The food is good (very fresh tasting), and the service is good as well. I haven't tried the burrito place next door to it nor the pizza place across the street yet.

              The colder it gets, the closer I want to stick to my office, which is at 20th & Market. We have been waiting forever for the new places to open in Commerce Square, but all we get are promises and a lot of signage.

              1. re: PattiCakes
                Bride of the Juggler Nov 19, 2008 05:21 AM

                FYI, Pad Thai Shack is still at 18th and Walnut (just north of Walnut).
                If I worked at 20th and Market, I'd be getting falafel from the guy on the corner every day (going at 11 to pick it up so I don't have to deal with the line).
                Thank you.

                1. re: Bride of the Juggler
                  PattiCakes Nov 19, 2008 09:31 AM

                  Thanks, BotJ, I was confused. The place I was thinking of at 20th & Ranstead was owned by the same people who own Pad Thai Shck -- it may have b een called "noodle" something? Anyway, it's now Mama's Vegetarian.

                  Yep, that felafel cart is something else. It has won a number of awards for "best felafel" or "best cart" in the city. I believe the name of the guy who runs it is Kristos; he has a schtick that reminds you of the Soup Nazi, from Seinfeld, but his food is wonderful. You can smell the stuff cooking at 10:30-11:00 in the morning -- heaven!

                  I'll post my review of the Thai Chef & Noodle Fusion under a separate topic.

                  1. re: PattiCakes
                    kiwijen Dec 29, 2008 09:50 AM

                    Sorry - don't mean to hijack this thread - I've gone by but haven't seen a menu or list of what's available. If he's got a gruff personality, could you take pity on me and recommend a few things?

                    1. re: kiwijen
                      PattiCakes Dec 29, 2008 10:54 AM

                      No menu -- that's part of the schtick. He sells felafel and/or grilled meat in a pits, with accomaniments. And you can only order one. Try it some time when there is a slight line & you can ask the regulars what to do/say.

                      1. re: PattiCakes
                        Bride of the Juggler Dec 30, 2008 04:41 AM

                        I think your choices are meat or vegetarian, sandwich or platter, with 2 different sizes for the sandwiches. Thank you.

                    2. re: PattiCakes
                      rabidog Jan 12, 2009 10:16 AM

                      i really want to check out this felafel guy, but twice now i've not been able to find him!! 20th and market, right? which corner? i'll be down in center city on weds and i'm going to give it another try.

                      1. re: rabidog
                        Bride of the Juggler Jan 12, 2009 11:18 AM

                        North East corner. Thank you.

                        1. re: Bride of the Juggler
                          PattiCakes Jan 12, 2009 11:57 AM

                          He's on the corner with the empty lot; same side of Market as the Blue Cross building.

            Show Hidden Posts