Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sawadee Ka (Welcome) to Asia Market: Restaurant and Grocery Store

I had read and heard many good things about Asia Market, a Thai Grocery Store and small restaurant in The Heights. Today I ventured out to see what it is all about. Having been to Southeast Asia a half a dozen times and on many of the trips I visited Thailand, I am quite familiar with authentic Thai cuisine. I am use to eating street food and at low end restaurants, so when I read all the reviews I was expecting something akin to that quality.

I drove to Asia Market all excited because I was expecting a little bit of Bangkok in Houston. What I found was a very friendly Mom and Pop Thai grocery store, a small cooking area in the back and six tables for customers to eat at. It did feel a little bit like a small town store outside of Bangkok, and it had have some of the items that I buy in Thailand, both on the grocery side when I am cooking there and some of the medicine I always bring back.

There was a limited supply of food on the shelves and in the refrigerated cases, but I know that they recently got their power back after Hurricane Ike, so I expect that a stop there in another month would be enable me to better judge what they carry in the fresh and frozen area of the store.

My visit today was to take out food. I was warmly greeted by the man at the register and which is where you order your food. They have a wide variety of dishes, from Thai salads, soup, noodles, rice, curry, and stir fry. Most dishes cost between $5.95 and $7.95. With three pages of items to choose from, I decided to limit myself to two today.

I ordered B2. Tom Yum, hot and sour soup, with shrimp and C4. Kee Mao Noodle, flat rice noodles with pork, basil, garlic and chili sauce. I asked for both medium hot. The dishes were well prepared, but more on the cautious side of medium hot, which means they were not as hot as I expected (the degree of spice, obviously is personal, I would rather err on the side of not enough on my first visit.) The portions were decent but not overly generous. The food was authentic, fresh, and decently prepared but nothing spectacular – it was good enough for what it is suppose to be, that is a good value for the price.

The Tom Yum came with small shrimp and had strong overtones of lemon grass. It had a great aroma and a wonderful taste. I was reminded why I do not order that soup often, it is always more broth than ingredients to eat and I like a more “meaty” soup. My rice noodles, Kee Mao Noodle were perfectly cooked slightly chewy with sliced pieces of pork and I think some egg. I liked this dish better than the soup, which was a personal preference for the noodle dish over the soup and not reflective of the quality of one dish over the other.

They are open Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

I definitely plan to go back and try different things in the near future. The portions were decent (but not overly generous), the food was authentic, fresh, and well prepared but nothing spectacular – it was good enough for what it is suppose to be, that is a good value for the price. As I mentioned earlier they were very friendly, which is something I have enjoyed on all my visits to Thailand and that made me think about when I was heading back to that part of the world again…

Update 10/09/08: I went back and ordered for take out Laab, Papaya Salad and Stir Fried Greens. I also picked up a Mung Bean dessert. The Thai Papaya Salad and dessert were good, the rest was so-so, the best I can say about the food, is that it was fresh and cheap, $21 for the whole meal and it is enough for at least three meals for me. They are close by and friendly, which means I will keep trying things on their menu, hoping I found the best things there.

No comments: