It's Cheers meets carryout restaurant with a Thai flair, I thought to myself as I entered Charles Street's cozy Thairish.
I could start by telling you how the owner and chief chef, Kerrigan Kitikul, greeted me with a cheerful, "What are you having tonight?" But the neighborly feel hit me well before I set foot inside, so let me back up a bit.
My boyfriend and I headed out to Thairish (pronounced hurr-eesh) on a Friday night before catching a movie. When I told him the assignment was downtown, he groaned.
"Parking," he muttered. I nodded ruefully.
Surely we would be in for at least a half hour of the vehicle vulture game, where we hover and mouth semi-desperate "are-you-coming-outs" to smug parked persons, who then shake their head "no," only to pull out as soon as we ride away. You know the game. Luckily, we didn't have to play it. As soon as we had completed a mere lap around Thairish's side streets, a jolly guy flagged us down and told us we could have his spot. Score one for this joint. We parallel parked and practically skipped inside.
As soon as we hit the door, the musky-sweet aroma of curry hit our noses. Mouth watering engaged, we sauntered up to the counter where we were greeted with Kitikul's hearty welcome. I confided in him that Thai food is uncharted, undigested territory for me, and he immediately began making recommendations.
"The chicken pad Thai is very popular," he says proudly as he began to write out my ticket. He also recommended the fried shrimp with peanut sauce and, to drink, iced tea with cream.
As he cooked, I inspected the place: a simple chalkboard served as the menu, green and white linoleum floors practically sparkled beneath the spare dining room (which seats only four parties, although extra seating welcomes a few folks who didn't mind swiveling on barstools) and unfussy Asian-inspired artwork jazzes up otherwise white walls.
I watched Kitikul deftly mix noodles and chicken, as he greeted regulars -- most of them by name or dish. A few minutes later I dug into my meal. The moist chicken released its tangy juices with every bite, and I knew instantly that Thairish would soon become a place where everybody knows my name. Cheers!
Dish: For starters, the fried shrimp satay, followed by a heaping helping of chicken pad Thai, all washed down with a tall glass of Thai iced tea. Thairish does not serve alcohol.
Damage: My appetizer ($3.25), drink ($0.99) and entrée ($7.95) came to $12.19. Not bad for a plate I could barely finish alone.
Decision: If you're looking for a standard carryout spot that boasts well-lit wall menus with pictures, this is not your cup of Thai tea. But if you want an easygoing eatery experience, where the cook knows you -- and doesn't mind if you eat in or take out -- it won't take someone named Norm to realize this is the place.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times