It’s no secret that my favorite cuisine is Thai. In fact I’ve reviewed my all time favorite thai restaurant Ginger Thai right here on the blog. Unfortunately, Ginger Thai is 900 miles away in Nashville, and since returning I’ve been hard pressed to find another Thai eatery that comes any where close to it here in Rochester. But that all changed about a month ago during a lunch connection with a friend. During the dog days of summer two week period we experienced early in the month, my friend and I decided to visit the eatery on a scorching hot Monday afternoon. My friend had frequented the quaint, blink and you’ll miss it eatery several times before, but this was my first visit. I was excited as Esan Thai sits betwixt a row of at least five restaurants jam packed nearly atop one another in the very busy Park Avenue neighborhood of Rochester. In a space of just a few feet, a multitude of restaurants line the block and during the busy lunch rush; outside space comes at a premium asit is nearly impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Still we were promptly seated in a tiny outside table, given menus, and drinks by the fast yet efficient waitress.
I was more excited than I should have been and couldn’t wait to peruse the Thai noodle menu. Upon confirmation that my gluten free needs could be accommodated (they could) I got busy analyzing the menu like I was reading a mystery thriller. So many rice noodle choices. If you know anything about Thai food, you know that rice noodles are the base of many a dish. They come in a myriad of sizes and variations, thin, wide, short, or long, and can be tossed with everything from chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, or in my case tofu. I wanted my rice noodle wide with crispy tofu. Unfortunately, only one of those requests could be accommodated and I settled for the uber Thai hot Pad See Eeu with no soy and un-crispy tofu. Pad See Eeu is a wide rice noodle tossed piping hot with broccoli, bean sprouts, snow peas, sweet onion, carrot, baby corn and mushroom. I’m salivating at the mouth just reminiscing about the meal.
I can’t remember what my friend got, since I was too fixated on my spice fix and my noodle obsession. Why I opted for level five Thai spicy for my noodle on the hottest day in August is beyond me. I guess I wanted to sweat and sweat I did. Upon first bite, I learned that Esan is the real Thai deal, giving me the spice level I craved (like a moth to a flame) even before adding my accoutrements of pickled pepper and siracha hot sauce. As far as I am concerned Thai noodle is to be eaten hot and hotter and this meal provided me the heat I craved.
In short I was more than please with my lunch, and didn’t even need a Thai iced tea. When pit against my echelon Ginger Thai, Esan Thai doesn’t quite reign supreme but comes mighty close indeed. But the fact that it is celiac friendly and does noodle so well makes it a worthy addition to the Gluten Free Food Guide as well as an eatery I plan to return to.
In fact, I paid Esan a second visit later that week and tried the Thai Basil Fried Rice which was good but not great. Still I plan to return if only for the rice noodle.
696 Park Ave.
Rochester, NY 14607
Phone (585) 271-2271