IN THE KITCHEN Chef-owner Jittipong Rakritikul, 33, began cooking when he was 8 years old with his grandmother in a small village in Phetchabun Province in central Thailand. After middle school, he earned a certificate in nutrition at the nearby Phitsanulok Vocational College, and, at 24, a degree in hospitality and commercial cookery in Sydney. Spending several years in the Australian city’s fashionable Bondi Beach neighborhood, he worked his way up to head chef at the ultra-modern Thai Riffic Noodle Bar. After moving to the Boston area in 2012, he cooked at a relative’s traditional Thai restaurant and put in a year at the Not Your Average Joe’s in Waltham. Wanting to open a Thai place with a modern sensibility and decor, he found his location in Quincy, and opened the Thai Noodle Bar just a few months ago, in March. “When we came to Boston, my wife and I dreamed to open a restaurant like Thai Riffic Noodle Bar,” he said. “I wanted to make a different Thai food-style restaurant, not only serving pad Thai, but a whole noodle menu.”
THE LOCALE You can see Rakritikul’s hospitality training in the refillable glass liters of chilled filtered water that greet guests upon arrival, and the spare, clean lines of the small, modern space. Pretty wooden walls, simple rustic tables, and tile floors convey modernity and efficiency. In a strip mall on Washington Street — best known for its Tedeschi’s and Jimmy’s House of Pizza — Thai Noodle Bar is an easy place to stop for a bite or some takeaway on a well-traveled commuter route.
ON THE MENU With this many options, ordering is best approached by people who know Thai cuisine well or aren’t afraid to ask for recommendations (and don’t be — the staff is knowledgeable and friendly and includes Rakritikul’s wife, Thitichaya Ratanajaruwat). Or, you can narrow things down by choosing among the mix-and-match items on the noodle bar section of the menu: You choose a protein, a type of noodle, and a sauce. Of the eight noodle varieties, three are rice based and gluten free: flat rice noodle, thin rice noodle, and vermicelli. The others are vegetable noodles, egg noodles, green tea noodles, lo mein, and udon.
If you’re looking for very tasty tofu, this is the place. The savory squares in the tofu and vegetables with flat rice noodles and oyster sauce ($8.75) are firm and well seasoned: A tofu-averse eater might be surprised. The nearly inch-wide noodles are soft, and the dish has broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. I wasn’t crazy about the meat in the pork with thin rice noodles and garlic pepper sauce ($8.95), but the noodles are good. Chicken with lo mein and chili basil sauce ($8.95) is another tasty, inexpensive meal, but beware: Hot is hot here, and this dish made our faces sweat.
Several appetizers (from the regular menu) are good. Fresh roll shrimp ($5.95) is a plate of small salad wraps — Boston lettuce, carrot, avocado — in a thin rice wrapping and served on a pretty wooden cutting board. They’re very mild tasting and fresh, with large basil leaves embedded under the wrapping. The chicken satay ($5.95) is only OK on one visit, but the BBQ pork ($5.95) is salty-sweet good, and the (three) shrimp in the mild coconut soup with shrimp ($3.95) are perfectly cooked.
Thai Noodle Bar, 501 Washington St., Quincy, 617-689-8847, www.thainoodlebar.com.Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.