Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Best of Many Worlds: The New Rod Dee

I have often extolled the virtues of Rod Dee in Brookline. In fact, my write up of the original Rod Dee was one of my first blog posts. I'd go so far as to say that, along with Pho Viet's, it is my favorite restaurants. The food is so flavorful and complex.

They offer authentic Thai dishes that you would be hard pressed to find in many other restaurants. And it is all offered for a reasonable price. Yet, while I was willing to make the 25 minute trek for such good food, the lack of seating at the original Rod Dee made it difficult to eat at as a family (or even to count on for a date night with my husband.) Thankfully, another location opened in Washington Square at 1671 Beacon Street, just down the street from the other Beacon Street location. This location, titled the "New Rod Dee", offers much more seating and tables! (Unfortunately their 3rd location in the Fenway burned down in and is closed indefinitely.)

Make sure to go to either Rod Dee (rather than ordering off the take-out menu) as each day there are wonderful desserts and appetizers that are served at the counter, such as sweet roti and fresh shrimp rolls.The other reason to order directly at Rod Dee (rather than the take out menu) is due to the hand-written menu behind the counter. While the other dishes (the ones on the English take-out menu) are very good, on the hand-written menu you will find the true Thai dishes. I go further, though, and often ask the staff about options that are not on the English menus. In fact, that is how I discovered a phenomenal chicken dish. At first glance it looked like steamed chicken next to some white rice. However, the chicken was incredibly moist. But the rice was heaven: the chicken had cooked on the rice, permeating the rice with the most delicious taste and smell. To take the dish one step further was one of their amazing sauces. This must have at least 10 different ingredients. It is simultaneously sweet, garlicy, sour, spicy-just amazing. (Ironically, I recently discovered that it you can only get it at the original Rod Dee and just on Thursday.)

The "Roast Pork Thai Style" (listed on the speciality menu) consisted of sweet pork served with sticky rice. The best part was another complex sauce that was served on the side. I also tried the green papaya salad. Be aware that it comes filled with little dried shrimp and is spicier than versions I have had elsewhere.

I have had the Pad Kee Mao many times, and have always loved the crisp vegetables and spicy broccoli, with the contrast of the basil. Pad See Ew is another fabulous noodle dish, with thick rice noodles, broccoli and meat. It is a great option for people that don't enjoy spicy foods.

Asking for recommendations from the staff led me to try "Steamed Roast Pork". What arrived was a plate of tender pork on a plate of rice and covered with sweet sauce. On the side was a boiled egg and a vinegary hot sauce. Mixed together the combination was heavenly. The egg, an unexpected enjoyment, adding a creamy texture.

Under the "Special Rice Plates" is another great dish. Kao Nar Ped, or roasted duck, was similiar in that it sat on a bed of rice, served with a egg and greens. The aroma of five spice powder made the whole dish smell wonderful. While the duck was a bit overcooked, the sauce, a black sweet sauce, was wonderful with the rice.

Another favorite is the Boat Noodle Soup. I love it more for the wonderful broth, than the meatballs. I also recently had a version with big slices of roast pork (along with other porky items) and rolled fresh rice noodles. Again, the broth was full and scented with cilantro. A new favorite soup is the steamed duck with black mushroom. It consisted of homemade broth that was redolent of anise. On top was layered tender roast duck, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots all on a bed of noodles.I ordered the "spicy crispy chicken" and quickly understood why it is one of the most popular on the menu. The chicken is fried and then sauteed with green and red pepper slices.
It is then topped with Thai basil and coated in a sweet sauce. It has precisely that complexity of flavors and textures that defines the best Thai food: spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy, tender.

On another trip, the staff recommended the spicy Pat Pong. It consisted of slivers of bamboo shoots and red peppers with ground chicken, basil and string beans. It was coated in a nose tingling spicy sauce that begged to be followed with gulps of the sweet Thai iced tea.It was cooked at such a high heat that the beans were still crisp while retaining a smoky, earthy char. Another excellent spicy dish is Spicy Pad Thai, with thin rice noodles, peanuts and chilis.
I usually skip the appetizers to save room for the main dishes, but on a recent visit a friend ordered the flaky scallion pancakes:
Next time I may have to try the Bangkok fried rice which consists of 1/2 a marinated chicken with a huge helping of shrimp fried rice or the grilled roast pork that is marinated in a number of spices.

Whichever Rod Dee you choose, I can guarantee a fantastic meal. Or, if like me, you intentionally order enough that people next to you ask, "Is that just for you?", enough meals for a few days. Last point, though, BRING CASH. They don't take credit cards which just keeps the prices lower.

The "New Rod Dee" 1671 Beacon Street Brookline, MA 02445 (617) 738-1455
The other/original "Rod Dee" 1430 Beacon Street Brookline, MA 02446 (617) 738-4977


  1. I'm excited to hear of the new location w/seating! Haven't been to "old" Rod Dee in so long - we moved from B-line years ago and like you said, it's really just a takeout spot. The New Rod Dee, however, will be a destination! BTW, we eat at Pho Viet's just about every week . . . . I think their pho is medicinal.

  2. I'm confused--hasn't the "new Rod Dee" been open for awhile in Washington Square? Thought I ate there months ago.

  3. Excellent point. It did open last year, but yet it is officially called the "New Rod Dee."

  4. What is the name of the chicken dish at the original Rod Dee only served on Thursdays? I get takeout from both Rod Dees frequently, but always stick to my favorites. I need to branch out more, and that dish sounds great! Thanks!

  5. I don't know the name is it was in Thai! But based on other dishes I have had, I think it is a version of "Hainese Chicken Rice." I can guarantee this, though. If you go to Rod Dee on Thursday (or even call in a take out order), they will know exactly what you mean as it is so popular! And, as I noted in the post, the staff is great at making suggestions. I always tell them that I want the authentic Thai food and love dishes that aren't on any menu.