June 2006 Cheap EatsOwner Amina Toopet personally scours her storefront restaurant every day, and it shows--the dining room is sparkling clean, the hardwood floors glimmer, the yellow and blue walls gleam.
Toopet, a Muslim Thai, is just as hands-on at mealtime. Her head bound in a colorful scarf, she stops by tables making sure diners are happy and beams contentedly at words of praise. Which is what you'll undoubtedly utter as you make your way through the vivid cooking. Nibble on crisp vegetable-filled spring rolls with nary a trace of grease or share a many-textured shrimp "salad" sour with lime and fiery with roasted chili paste. Bigger plates like the green shrimp curry, fragrant with coconut milk, and the tender eggplant redolent of Thai basil are no less delicious. Because the restaurant adheres to Islamic dietary law, there's no pork or alcohol. The pork you're not likely to miss, but a Singha would provide a welcome bit of relief from all the fire.
For dessert, deep-fried bananas wrapped in a rice-paper packet, to be dunked in a honey or chocolate sauce, are a new twist on an old favorite.