The Freshmaker 

Thai Noon; Thai Done Light

It amazes me that people still debate the gentrification of Alberta, because it's so over. Other than Joe's Place, the Alberta Street Market (which will soon be torn down and turned into a sushi bar!!!), and a few Mexican markets, Alberta has been lost to the yuppie cheesehead for some time now. Maybe everyone could start rapping about Killingsworth; at least it'd be a new topic. That said, I have to review new restaurants on Alberta as if they were anyplace else.

As a quality Thai restaurant, Thai Noon fits the bill. In fact, its commitment to quality is what differentiates it from the eight billion other Thai restaurants in Portland. The kitchen uses fresh vegetables in their dishes, with green beans that spike your meal with brilliant color and carrots that have just a hint of rawness. The food is decidedly not greasy (even when dishes involve deep-frying) and you leave feeling healthily recharged instead of weighed down.

The typical dishes like the Pad Thai and spicier Pad Kee Mao are both good bets at Thai Noon, although I do wish their portions were a bit larger. The green curry is top notch, loaded with peas, green pepper, Thai Noon's signature Chinese eggplants (which are small, and purple and white in color), and meat or tofu as usual. I wouldn't recommend ordering the shrimp because on both occasions I had it, it had the dank taste of having been frozen. Also be careful how spicy you order the curry--levels as low as medium will give you the hiccups. One need not be as careful with the noodle dishes, where the medium level isn't quite as potent.

Specials such as the Spicy Eggplant and Chicken and Stuffed Chicken Wings are well executed. The Eggplant dish is loaded with the tender purple eggplant, white meat chicken, and a spicy but pleasantly unassuming sauce. The Stuffed Chicken Wings are deboned, fried, and stuffed with vegetables, glass noodles, and pork. Both of these dishes are good for people who don't like the sweetness of most Thai fare.

My complaints about Thai Noon are limited to a couple things. The Thai iced tea and coffee taste artificial, like they're made from a mix. Also, when my dining partner and I asked for a little more rice with our curry, they threatened to charge us a dollar. I don't know, to me that seems petty; plus I'm used to the owner of Sivalaya comping half my meal out of crazy niceness.

But unlike the homey, knick-knacky feel of Sivalaya or Khun Pic's Bahn Thai, Thai Noon is bright orange and clean, with intimate tables (some outdoors) and big garage doors that are open in nice weather. The waitstaff isn't super confident, but they're friendly and the place is only a month old. Really, I'm just happy to have another option in the Northeast besides Mexican. Plus, healthy restaurant food is generally uncommon, and for someone who eats out as frequently as I do, it's nice to leave a restaurant knowing you ate something good for you, instead of feeling like you just clogged another artery.

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