At Sticky Rice Café in West Roxbury, the atmosphere is perhaps more conducive to takeout, though there is room to eat in. (Given my aversion to pairing noodles with Ultimate Fighting Championship, I returned home to my dining room.) Featuring a vast menu of Asian cuisine that meanders through Korean and Japanese dishes, Sticky Rice's strongest are Thai. Offerings are identical between lunch and dinner, though some only qualify for this column's pricing during the earlier period.
Soups are terrific: "Bombz" is essentially tom yum with the addition of a tender seafood medley, plenty of lemongrass, and a deep, balanced, intense broth. Elegant tom kha soup ($3.50) suspends sliced chicken in supple coconut broth, cut with lime. Among a routine appetizer list of shumai and summer rolls, a few variations: dancing shrimp ($6.95/six) are split, skewered, and grilled, served with a cup of thick, oily peanut sauce. Chive dumplings ($5.95/three) encase a dense tangle of chives in gooey buns, pan-fried.
Sticky Rice Café advertises "extraordinarily healthy" fare and, though dishes include plenty of crisp vegetables, I'm not sure it really earns a Presidential Fitness Award. Sushi is coming soon, and brown rice can be swapped in for $1 extra. But among the usual proteins of tofu, beef, pork, duck, and seafood, there's a newcomer: deep-fried dark-meat chicken browned in a thick crust. It was excellent layered with green curry ($8.95). Wild boar basil ($8.95) tossed thinly sliced pork in a light, musky sauce with vegetables and twigs of fresh green peppercorns. Its eggplant had that springy, spongy bite of undercooked fruit, one of the preparations that I suspect drives eggplant beginners to shun the creamy nightshade. Amid the curry's fiery, silky coconut gravy, eggplant became luscious. Other frontrunners include irresistible kimchi fried rice ($7.95) — I recommend with beef — and chicken kra-pow ($8.95) topped with fried egg over juicy ground chicken, wilted basil, and chewy mushrooms. Heat levels as listed are relatively mild; after a few bites around my plate, I noted a warm burn on my lips, though nothing challenging.
Don't miss the ambrosial dessert of mango and sweet sticky rice ($5.95). A gummy cake of warm, sweet sticky rice is soaked in coconut milk and sprinkled with toasted soybeans, joined by crescents of gorgeously ripe mango. Eat this slowly and savor it.
Sticky Rice Café, located at 1894 Centre Street in West Roxbury, is open daily, 11:30 am–10 pm. Call 617.477.9628.