Second Helpings

Second Helping

After eating pad thai everywhere from Noodles & Co. to Alameda Square, I thought that maybe I just didn't like pad thai. I suspected that all the pad thai I'd put away over the years had probably been just fine, and that I -- being the bumbling dimwit that I am -- was simply too dense to realize that this ubiquitous Thai noodle dish simply rubbed me the wrong way. But after dropping by J's Noodles last week, I realized that while I am no less the bumbling dimwit I always knew I was, I was right about one thing: While damn near every pad thai I've ever eaten was as dull as a box of rocks, I still like the stuff.

Especially at J's. This simple, unassuming space buried in the heart of South Federal's little Vietnam has gone through a lot of ups and downs over the past sixteen years, but today it makes a pad thai so good it makes me realize what I've been missing all these years. After trying the traditional pad thai -- a little better than most, but nothing to write home about -- I returned the next day for the country pad thai, which was the taste I've been looking for all along. Perfect flat noodles, a little stiff, tossed in a satisfyingly deep, sweet/spicy sauce with lacy egg whites, shrimp, seared chicken and beautiful cubes of tofu (and whoever thought those words would come out of my keyboard?), all lost under a wonderfully fresh fall of virginal white bean sprouts, shaved carrots, peanuts and a little bit of everything else in the kitchen. One bite and I was sold. Two plates and I'm back on the pad thai bandwagon.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan