The Rod Dee Thai Cuisine chain of local restaurants is a favorite of many Bostonians, with four locations from Cambridge to Brookline. Now residents of Stoneham can enjoy the same authentic flavor at Gin U Dee Thai Kitchen, opened this spring by a son of the Rod Dee proprietors. Teeradet Mongkhonlertsirikul, who goes by the name Jumbo, and his business partner, Voranont Mettanant, who goes by Michael, have brought many of the familiar Rod Dee dishes with them. And in case you were wondering, the friends and partners have no idea how to write each other’s names. It took several trips from the front of the tiny restaurant to the back of the kitchen to sort out the spellings. With each trip, a waft of heady garlic and pungent Asian fish sauce traveled with them, making us hungrier by the minute.
Much like the Rod Dee spots, Gin U Dee is small, with counter service and a dining room. Unlike Rod Dee, it delivers and takes credit cards (you lucky Stoneham residents). Food comes out on china plates with knives and forks, and the wood paneled walls make it feel like a beach shack, especially when you are slurping one of the sweet and slushy fruit smoothies ($4.50).
We start with som tum ($7.95), the tangy shredded green papaya salad with dried shrimp and peanuts in a lime and fish sauce dressing. Despite being advertised as spicy (and despite our emphasizing we like food very spicy) the salad is quite mild, though refreshing.
The kitchen must have remembered our heat preferences because pork pad kra pao ($8.35 for a small dish, which is plenty for two), was hiccup inducing, exactly what we hoped for. The ground meat spiked with green chiles, lots of Thai basil, and a hit of lime comes with rice and lettuce leaves to tame the fire. The friendly young woman working the register inquires if it’s spicy enough for us. Yes!
Pan-fried rice noodles with duck ($8.65) is one of the milder dishes, but no less flavorful. Thick noodles in a thin soy-based sauce are tossed with bean sprouts, scallions, and thin slices of tender duck breast. It’s one of those dishes that seems to get more savory with every bite.
On another visit we try some of our Rod Dee favorites to see how they measure up. Kao Soi ($8.65) is the same rich and comforting yellow curry with wheat noodles and sliced chicken. Yum neau ($12.95), the spicy beef salad with chile paste, lemongrass, red onion, and lemon packs a punch.
In the name of trying something new, we order steamed beef and beef-tendon noodle soup ($8.85). The broth is deep caramel and clear, like a Vietnamese pho, and the meat is supremely tender and flavorful, simply garnished with rice noodles and Chinese broccoli. This is the perfect restorative soup for when the dreaded cold weather strikes. For now we’ll eke out a little extra summer sipping icy smoothies.
The next generation restaurateurs are doing a fine job of carrying on the family tradition. You get deliciously authentic food, friendly service, free parking, and very affordable prices. Skip a trip to the ATM.
Gin U Dee Thai Kitchen
418 Main St., Stoneham, 781-438-9989, www.ginudee.com. All major credit cards accepted. Not wheelchair accessible.
Prices Appetizers $3.70-$7.95, Entrees $7.95 -$14.95, Desserts $5.10-$6.50
Hours Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m.,
Sun noon-9 p.m.
What to order Pork pad kra pao,
pan-fried rice noodles with duck,
yum neau (spicy beef salad), steamed beef and beef-tendon noodle soup.
Catherine Smart can be reached at email@example.com.