11 W. Marie St., Hicksville
SERVICE: Molasses-esque on occasion
AMBIENCE: Austere, mercifully free of Thai triteness
ESSENTIALS: Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Sunday. Credit cards accepted. Street parking. Wheelchair accessible.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and I am in the best of all possible places, tucked snugly into my seat at Rangsit 11, calmly awaiting the tremendous Thai-ness to come.
The fare in this four-month-old Hicksville establishment, as confirmed by both prior and future visits, is headspinningly good. The sidewalk noodles leave me drunken, the drunken noodles leave me swooning on the sidewalk. My mind is flooded with memories of the crab rangoon, with its salty green wonton shell, the spinach flavor melting into flaming hot, lightly sweetened cream cheese and crabmeat magma at its core. So while I wish my companions and I didn’t have to wait this time—what is it, 8 minutes, now?—it’s a small price to pay for the glories to come.
It seems to me that Rangsit’s décor is worth celebrating in its own right. Swirling around the pressed-tin ceiling are bright, copper-colored fans, while the walls are covered in colorfully patterned canvases, Bangkok skyline photos and posters from Thai action movies. It’s all intensely interesting and totally worth the 13 minutes of attention I’ve paid it while waiting for the khao soi noodles I’ve raved about so relentlessly that my dining companions can recite certain phrases by heart: “the delicate interplay of soft and fried noodles,” “a persuasive case for yellow curry as wonder drug,” and of course, “soi good!”
The time? Sure, it’s 20 minutes, but … they're making us wait 20 minutes?! Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I had the time to google Rangoon and discover it was once the capital of Burma, that Rangsit is a city in Thailand where the No. 1 recreational activity is paintball (per TripAdvisor), but there are just two other tables occupied in this 20-seat dining room so what is the holdup? And that aroma wafting from the kitchen—isn’t that the basil fried rice with beef that I adore for its determined non-greasiness and sparing use of anise?
My tablemates and I are now the delirious face of first-world hunger, bleating desperately for our now-vanished server. My vision blurs, a single bead of sweat forms on my forehead, and I feel my head might snap off with the memory of the crisp bean sprouts and Chinese broccoli. We are trapped in a Thai cave, I hear myself scream, but without the divers to rescue us, without the cable network tracking our story ’round the clock.
On behalf of Rangsit, I humbly apologize to my table for the 25 minutes we’ve lost while waiting to crunch into perfect little cubes of fried chive cakes accented by housemade hot sauce, or scoop up potato pieces floating in the gentle coconut milk broth of massaman curry. I fantasize about flying all the way to Bangkok for the real thing and still returning in time for dessert at Rangsit, which I steadfastly refuse to miss ever since happening upon the palatal glee of its jasmine panna cotta. Then, I —
You know what? Enough. I’m going in, I say, bolting from the table ahead of my companions’ outstretched arms, running till I’m almost in the kitchen when—well, you know.
How utterly delicious is this chicken satay and barbecue beef salad, we proclaim, once everyone’s glycemic indexes have normalized. It’s amazing how much one can forgive when the food is good, I joke, and the three of us chuckle fakely in just the way old sitcoms used to end.
Since that fateful Saturday, it must be said, the service at Rangsit has improved dramatically. The food hasn’t, but it didn’t need to. Yes, the iced tea could be less bitter and the limp Thai nachos should be rethought, but really that’s quibbling. Indeed, Rangsit’s kitchen is so great, I find it hard to believe rumors that the place has struggled, especially now that chef Adalyn Boonbangkhan and owner Min Kim appear to have worked out the kinks. Attractively priced establishments with exceptional food should not be struggling while expensive and awful ones flourish. This sort of sin is not one the food gods take lightly.
Appease their wrath, I say. Give Rangsit 11 a chance it so richly deserves. Something so delicious and wallet-friendly is truly worth making time for.