Tacos, craft cocktails, and ornate French toast are easy enough to find in Patchogue. Thai food, not so much, until a few weeks ago.
In September, Winnie Teng and Keith Wong opened a cozy spot called Rice Thai a few miles north of downtown, on Route 112.
The pair know each other well: They ran two restaurants together in Middlebury, Vermont (a Chinese eatery and a Thai place), and Teng is also Wong's mom.
Teng runs the front of house, while Wong, 30, is chef and basic kitchen all-arounder. Their menu reflects Thai classics such as pad thai ($11) and the creamy, soul-warming soup tom ka ($5 to $8), but Wong employs a slightly different set of techniques to render them. "We're from Malaysia, and so there is Malaysian influence," said Wong.
That sometimes means slower cooking than in Thai cuisine, added Teng, so some dishes might take a bit longer. A raft of Malay dishes sprinkle the menu, too, among them an appetizer of roti, or Malaysian-style bread served with massaman curry, and a panang-style curry with string beans and kaffir lime ($12).
Most of the Thai staples are here, too; besides pad thai, Wong cooks five kinds of curry, the papaya salad called som tom Thai ($8), eggplant cooked in a chili sauce with vegetables, basil and Thai spices ($11), and khao soi, a spicy, coconut-milk soup thick with noodles and a protein of choice, plus onions, pickled mustard greens and a crown of fried egg noodles ($14). (Before opening Rice Thai, Wong cooked alongside chef Nae Wipaporn Sittidej at Simply Thai in Copiague, and his khao soi bears some of the same majesty). Lunch specials are $8, and come with a spring roll and either soup or salad.
Rice Thai's calming, intimate dining room has 16 seats, and the restaurant is a few storefronts in from the street. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday hours are noon to 10 p.m. Alcohol is not served, but diners can BYO.
Rice Thai, 585 Medford Ave., Suite 3, Patchogue. 631-654-2888. ricethaipatchogue.com