Colonia, NJ 07067
- Cost: $$
- Alcohol: BYO
- Take Out: Yes
November 18, 2011
Thanks go out to the EthnicNJ reader who called our attention to this tiny Thai spot in Middlesex County. It’s so small, attached to a BBQ joint and a laundromat on Route 35 South, that we drove past it twice using GPS. (It’s across from the Burger King. If you hit the Route 1/9 overpass you’ve gone too far. There’s ample parking around the side next to the laundromat.) If you can find Thai House Rock, you’ll find some of New Jersey’s best Thai food, in a very eclectic setting.
The space must have a been a fast food take out only restaurant at some point. The shape of the room reminds you of the ubiquitous Chinese take outs with menu pictures above the metal counter. At Thai House Rock, there are five cozy tables in front of the counter. The dining room walls are covered with vintage vinyl LPs and 45s, and album covers ranging from Foreigner to an obscure German doo-wop collection. (Our eight-year-old daughter said, “Look at all the CDs on the wall!” Bless her young heart.) The Rock theme is carried all the way through the menus – pasted in album covers, the specials – pasted on albums, and the sound system – playing Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and such. There are also Christmas lights, Asian bric-a-brac, and strange musical coconut figurines hanging from the ceiling. My son felt strongly that Thai House Rock would be a candidate for a Restaurant Makeover. I liked the kitschy charm.
We all really liked the food, which is fresh and homemade. The menu features Thai staples (chicken coconut soup (tom ka), pad thai, green curry chicken), along with Thai pan-Asian variations (gyoza, ma po shrimp, shrimp teriyaki). A fried taro cake appetizer special with sweet chili sauce is delicious. The Green Gyoza and chicken potstickers are also good. Spice levels are strong. Try that Tom Ka on a cold evening, or the super spicy Fried Crispy Noodles with chicken and creamy red curry, and your mouth will be warm for hours. The Pad Thai here – sweet but not cloying, with a subtle, assertive spice – is one of the best I’ve had. A perfectly sized mound of chicken, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts and ground peanuts with rice noodles. The Garlic Shrimp, coated with caramelized garlic, is excellent. Even the miso soup and salad with peanut dressing here is better than most places.
Made with care, the food is worth the wait. One very friendly guy was working the front of the house – taking orders, serving and answering the phone for takeout. Somewhere in the kitchen behind the counter, there’s an experienced cook. Service can be slow. It’s BYO, so sip some wine and work up an appetite. With only five tables, you might want to call ahead before eating in. While they’re open til 9 pm Wednesday through Saturday, on the Friday we went, the food ran out and the Closed sign was flipped over at 8:30 pm.