Thai Corner
601 SE Morrison St.

Recently, while dining at Thai Orchid, my cohort commented that he doesn't like going there much because it feels "too NW 23rd." In other words, the décor and upscale-ish feel of the place made my working class companion feel a little too close to yuppiedom for comfort. A restaurant more to his liking might be the Thai Corner, which is basically a Thai diner--inexpensive and unassuming--that serves surprisingly kickass dishes, considering their prices.

As a general test, I ordered the ubiquitous and most famous dish, the Pad Thai. For me, it's a huge turnoff when a restaurant adds ketchup to their Pad Thai, possibly because I once ordered the dish at a restaurant in Olympia and the noodles were soaked completely red with Heinz. There may be a faint bit of ketchup in Thai Corner's Pad Thai. However, rather than making it taste like a bucket of soggy fries, it adds a subtle sweetness--something lacking in most Pad Thai dishes I've had around town; perhaps it's prepared with a bit of brown sugar. The Pad Thai is spicy and sticky and sweet, but without lime. It's mixed with fresh broccoli and tofu of a decent consistency, and then layered with shredded carrots and bean sprouts. Completely delicious and only $5.50 (lunch price).

My non-vegetarian friend ordered Pad Kee Mao with squid for $6.50. A medium-spicy dish with fresh tomatoes, basil, and broccoli, the meal came with a huge helping of "delicious, chewy" squid. The plate of big fat rice noodles, pan fried to perfect stickiness, was fragrant and spicy, but not unbearably so--a good balance of aroma and bite.

Thai Corner's curries are also quite good; their red curry almost rivals Thai Orchid's for taste and texture. Only, there is absolutely no chance you'll feel like a yuppie at Thai Corner. Rather than the block-arty, vibrant décor of the Orchid, the Corner feels like you're hanging out in somebody's grandma's living room. Traditional Thai art hangs on the wood-paneled walls, and the servers are extra-friendly, if a little short-staffed (you might want to reserve an extra half-hour if you plan to go for lunch).