New Rod Dee

Love lost, but fear not . . . a new one's arrived
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  January 20, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

PERFECTION: Rod Dee may be home to “the original spicy crispy chicken recipe,” but the real winner here is the impeccable “Spicy Crispy Squid.”

New Rod Dee | 617.738.1455 | 1671 Beacon Street, Brookline | Open Mon–Thurs, 11 AM–10:30 PM; Fri and Sat, 11 AM–11 PM; and Sun, Noon–11 PM | No Credit Cards | No Liquor | No Valet Parking | Sidewalk-Level Access
Alas, fire has taken out Rod Dee II, in the Fenway. We pause here to mourn that restaurant, along with Greek Isles, Thornton's, Umi, the El Pelón Taqueria, and the underrated Sorrento's — all favorite Phoenix lunch spots that were also lost in that awful Peterborough Street blaze. A block of small indie restaurants is one of the greatest things in city living. But let's cater the wake from New Rod Dee, in Brookline. This recently opened location, intended to be the third of a small chain now down to two outlets, is the largest and best of all — the finest disposable-plate dining room in Greater Boston since the original Legal Seafood.

The other Rod Dees, both extant and not, were take-out operations with a few seats. The newest is a take-out operation with 12 tables. It even gestures to the lounge world with a sofa and two chairs. That said, this is a florescent bright room with clashing colors of India — ochre, purple, and crimson over quarry tile — and minimal service. You order up front and fetch your own drinks and utensils. Dishes are brought to your party, and if you're polite, you bus your own table afterward. Although many Bostonians love Thai restaurants that have formal dûcor with Asian food, Rod Dee makes a virtue out of no frills by getting dishes to the customers hot and fresh — a tremendous advantage with deep-frying and stir-fries.

The menu says that Rod Dee is home to "The original spicy crispy chicken recipe." You can try that here either as a $2 add-on to any dish, or with a special spicy rice plate ($8.10). The rice option has two silhouettes next to its name, so it's very hot, mostly due to deadly green peppers. Don't mistake them for the bell variety! All this spice comes with excellent jasmine and the chicken, which has a crunchy breading, like Japanese tonkatsu. Personally, though, I think the real winner in the key of fried is the "Spicy Crispy Squid." It's crisper, more carefully pepper-loaded with a chopped salsa-like mûlange, and the chunks of squid are impeccable.

Outside of rice dishes, there's tod mun ($5.75), fried fish cakes. These are a little rubbery, the better to hold the chopped peanut "dip." Not everyone loves tod mun, but if you do, you get about nine here, so it's a best buy.

Coconut soup with chicken ($3.40) is about double the typical restaurant portion, with a clear coconut sweetness and lots of galangal and lemongrass flavor. There's not so much chicken, but there are tons of fresh, crunchy mushrooms. Tom Yum with shrimp ($3.40) also has two spice silhouettes on the menu and deserves that rating. This dish is always hot and sour, with shrimp or chicken, mushrooms, and the odd cherry tomato, but the plate served here is definitely less sour than hot. The only weak appetizer we hit was Thai spring rolls ($4.75), four crisp cigars with perhaps twice as much wrapper as they needed.

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