Humble eatery makes an impression

TAKEOUT

Chokchai Thai Food has fresh fare, well prepared, at affordable price

Takeout

April 02, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Baltimore, I keep learning, has no shortage of unimpressive-looking but perfectly pleasing ethnic carryouts.

Add one more to the list: Chokchai Thai Food, a humble little eatery on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.

There's little to brighten up this storefront's premises except for some Thai-themed pictures, a 2002 Orioles calendar and a stack of magazines, including a copy of Thailand Illustrated dating from 1996. But on a recent visit, the food was fresh, generally well prepared and affordable. You can't ask for much more than that in a neighborhood carryout.

For appetizers, we loved the tom ka gai - a coconut soup ($2.50) with lemon grass, lime juice, scallion and galanga (or Siamese ginger). It was kind of an Asian chowder with a lovely citrus accent. We had hoped to try the fish cakes, but they were out that day, so we sampled the fried won ton ($2.95) - deep-fried won ton wrapped around a puree of chicken and spices, served with a tasty sweet-and-sour sauce. The won tons were too greasy, but went down surprisingly easy.

A red chicken curry ($6.50) featured slices of green and red peppers and green beans, served over rice. The peppery curry taste shone through nicely, although I would ask the cook to bump up the hot quotient to give the curry a bit more zip. A stir-fry featuring beef, squash and baby corn ($6.50) was an interesting, somewhat smoky medley of decent beef slices and vegetables. Finally, the very good black fried rice ($6.50) off the vegetarian section of the menu came with fried tofu, egg and bean sprouts in a black-bean sauce that was not as sweet as that found in some Chinese restaurants.

Chokchai offers four desserts, including rice pudding and Thai custard. We tried the sticky rice with mango ($2.95), a fine version of an old favorite with slices of fresh mango arrayed in a flower-petal shape over a bed of sweetened rice.

The eatery sits just south of Northern Parkway. Parking is available at meters along Harford Road.

Chokchai Thai Food

Food: * * *

Service: * * *

Waiting area: * * *

Parking: * * 1/2

Where: 6620 Harford Road, Northeast Baltimore

Phone: 410-426-3244

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Thai appetizers and soups from $1.95 to $4.50; salads and main dishes from $4.95 to $8.50; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: * * * *; Good: * * *; Fair or uneven: * *; Poor: *

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