Pad Thai House 

Having driven past the sick spectacle of generic consumerism that is America during the holidays, I was relieved to finally arrive at Pad Thai House. Occlusive bamboo shades and the sound of trickling water quickly made me forget I was at the hectic corner of Five Mile and Overland Road.

Awaiting my guest, I observed one of the waitresses spend about five minutes meticulously cleaning a vacated table and the floor around it. You just read all you need to know about this wonderful, humble restaurant, but I'll continue for the purpose of enticement.

My obese lawyer friend soon joined me. He looks like Luca Brasi as he's getting choked to death in The Godfather. I invited him along because he is the only person I could think of that would be hungry the day after Thanksgiving.

For the sake of comparison, we ordered chicken satay and tom yum gai soup for appetizers. Thai hot wings were added to the mix because the litigator weighs north of 270 pounds. Chicken satay is a staple food in many parts of Southeast Asia. Thinly sliced pieces of chicken are first marinated, then grilled and served on skewers with accompanying peanut sauce and cucumber onion sweet sauce. Our satay was perfect. The spicy soup consisted of chicken, lemongrass, galangal (related to ginger), tomatoes, mushrooms, kaffir leaves and cilantro. The scent of lemon heavily influenced the taste, but we both thought the soup was excellent. Incidentally, the kaffir leaves almost choked both of us, so be forewarned. As I watched the counselor gag his way toward sleeping with the fishes, I mused about how one would Heimlich such an enormous man. I concluded I'd wait until he collapsed to the ground and then leap on his belly. Fortunately this scenario did not come to pass and I turned my attention to the chicken wings. They were deep-fried, well spiced and satisfyingly meaty.

For the main course, I ordered the red beef curry, and my voluminous guest asked for the chicken pad Thai, paused and then went ahead and also requested a honey roasted duck. (Can you imagine ordering a duck as an afterthought?) Our kind waitress obliged, all the while keeping us flush with hot green tea.

I'm not a fan of pad Thai so I deferred judgment to Luca, who proclaimed it on par with the best he's ever had. The curry dish came with snow peas, basil, zucchini, tomatoes, bamboo shoots and beans, with jasmine rice on the side. The vegetables were crisp and discernable despite the medley of offerings, but I felt the coconut milk overpowered the dish. Our oh-by-the-way duck was supple, roasted evenly and accompanied with a spicy red sauce.

I had consumed enough, but our waitress gave us an offer we couldn't refuse in the form of homemade coconut ice cream for me and sweet rice with Thai custard for him. The increasingly moribund lawyer gravely proclaimed between large bites that he wouldn't order the custard again because it wasn't sweet enough. Whatever. Predictably, he kept eyeing my ice cream, but it was too good to share.

As I paid the $53 tab, I realized the restaurant had slowly filled to capacity. It was wonderful seeing Idaho suburbanites venture away from big box stores and their incumbent food dispensers to dine at an authentic, independent ethnic restaurant. Pad Thai House merits the effort.

--Waj Nasser isn't afeard of calling a fat man obese

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