Noodles are a strength at the New Rod Dee. The pad Thai ($7.55) is solid with some sneaky hot pepper. The pad see you ($7.40) are broad noodles like chow foon, with a hint of char from the wok, a slightly sweet overtone of cinnamon, and fried cubes of chicken, pork, or — our choice — tofu.
Curries range from the mild potato-pineapple Massaman curry ($6.90 with pork) up to the coconut-red-curry choo chee, which we had on a fried whole fish ($14.25). The former was deliciously sweet pork and bamboo shoots — a surprisingly good match for a curry named for Muslim traders. The latter was perhaps a tilapia, a fine foil for a rich curry sauce.
Absent a liquor license, canned sodas are an economical one dollar, and fruit juices, such as my guava nectar, a decent $1.75. Thai ice tea ($2.50) is vanilla-flavored with condensed milk. Complementary ice water and hot tea will handle any chili-pepper emergencies that are not solved by a mouthful of plain rice.
One neat plus is really wonderful desserts. Fried bananas with honey ($5.75) is now a clichû, but these struck a rare and subtle balance of sweet, rich, sesame, and banana flavors — we had eight little packets to study the effect. Roti ($5.75) is here a rolled crêpe soaked in cinnamon syrup, sliced into about 10 pieces, and again delectable. The mango with sweet sticky rice ($6.65) arrived and trumped them all, with the ripest mango and most coconut-enriched sticky rice ever.
Service, considering this is a semi-cafeteria-type set-up, was quick where it matters, and fully accurate and pleasant. Tables rapidly turned over during our weeknight visit, so much that the atmosphere in the room kept changing. That's in keeping with the service — and a good thing, too. Many dishes at New Rod Dee would only be diminished by the time expended to make them prettier.