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The Tip

Authentic and affordable Thai

The newest Rod Dee restaurant recently opened in Cambridge’s Porter Square. The newest Rod Dee restaurant recently opened in Cambridge’s Porter Square. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / January 14, 2011

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ROD DEE 1906 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

617-374-9252

Where is Boston’s best Thai food? Well, for the most part, it’s in Boston — or at least south of the river. Some insist it’s at S&I Thai in Allston, while others lean toward Dok Bua in Brookline. But a vociferous contingent argues for Rod Dee, the small chain started in 1995 by co-owner Osmin Hernandez, whose wife is Thai. Rod Dee is a family business. The first branch, in Coolidge Corner, was followed by another in the Fenway, and a third in Brookline’s Washington Square.

Of late, however, Rod Dee’s dishes have been a bit harder to come by. The Fenway location was destroyed in a 2009 fire that also took out El Pelón Taqueria, Thornton’s Fenway Grille, and other independent businesses. Then the Coolidge Corner location closed over the summer, after Hernandez lost his lease.

Now there’s good news, particularly for those who live north of the river. A new outpost of Rod Dee just opened in Porter Square. A sweet little space decorated in orange and yellow, it offers all the old favorites. The pad see ew, in particular, is justly famed — a tangle of flat, chewy rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli, meat or tofu, egg, and sweet soy sauce.

“We wanted to bring our food to Cambridge,’’ says Hernandez. “We have the original style, the way people do their cooking in Thailand.’’ Rod Dee’s chefs are Thai. Over the years, Hernandez says, he’s learned that customers don’t want their food Americanized. “They walk in and say, ‘I want it Thai style.’ We explain it’s more spicy, extra sour, extra sweet. They give it a try and order the same next time.’’ That’s why Rod Dee’s customers are so loyal, he says.

It’s not just the food that wins people over. Many of the dishes cost $10 or less, and nothing breaks the $15 mark. Great Thai food in Cambridge is something to celebrate. Great Thai food you can afford to eat in great quantities is even better.

Ratings

  • 4 Stars Extraordinary
  • 3 Stars Excellent
  • 2 Stars Good
  • 1 Star Fair
  • No Stars Poor