Strange circumstances found me with a free-ish afternoon in the city last week, and the first thing that needed attention was my belly. Ha HA. I smell a food-venture. Where to go, what to do?
I settled on Asia Market, a small Thai restaurant and grocery on Cavalcade near Main. I had been meaning to try the place since I read about it in the Fearless Critic, but had yet to venture over... My mistake. Seriously.
What was once clearly a Stop ‘N Go in a former life is now a hotspot of activity. The small parking lot was full, and what I found inside was a warm and welcoming space, bustling with people. And everyone -- whether shopping, eating, or serving -- had a smile on. The atmosphere is one of casual warmth.
I ordered a few dishes to try and then set out to explore the small market, where you’ll find dozens of varieties of fish sauce, plus things like galangal, bamboo shoots, Thai spices, preserved duck egg, and... fermented lettuce. Huh.
The real winner, of course, is the food. The green papaya salad, which you just can’t find at many Thai places here, is wonderfully flavorful and s-s-s-spicy. Get it with the tiny dried shrimp... and don’t forget to order a side of sticky rice to go with it.
Pad Se Ew is my favorite Thai dish, and the one here is top notch. Wide rice noodles stir fried with garlic, egg, light soy sauce, and Chinese broccoli (which is more like green onion). Rice noodles have such an incredible texture to them -- meaty and dense. And besides, they’re just downright fun to eat.
On my two return trips I tried the also-fantastic Kee Mao noodles, wide rice noodles stir fried with basil, egg, onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and chili sauce. And the Tom Kha Ga, traditional Thai hot and sour soup with coconut milk, galangal, and chicken. Creamy, spicy, tremendous. I’ve yet to find a disappointment.
A few final randoms: 1) Portions are huge. Plenty to split or take home for your next day’s lunch. 2) Want a napkin? Take a paper towel of the roll in the center. 3) FYI, they’re open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 7pm.
Asia Market is only minutes away from my house in the Heights, making it my new go-to joint for pick-up. See you there!
Asia Market - 1010 W. Cavalcade