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[Cheap Eats]

Dok Bua
Store with a secret
BY TAMARA WIEDER

on the cheap
Steve’s Kitchen Caesar’s Pizza & Subs Gloria Foods Delux Café and Lounge

From the outside, it looks like nothing more than a basic Asian grocery store, with a couple of small, window-front tables where you might expect to enjoy a beverage or snack.

Inside, though, it’s a whole other story. Dok Bua is actually a charming little Thai restaurant tucked inside an Asian market. As you eat, you’re surrounded by rows of exotic and colorful cans, boxes, and bags. And the bright, plant-filled room is a comfortable spot for feasting on some fine Thai cuisine. The Poa-Pia-Tod ($3.95), a plate of vegetarian spring rolls filled with cabbage, carrot, and glass noodles, is a tasty way to start a meal, followed by Gang-Pug ($7.95), a large bowl filled with panag or green curry and assorted vegetables (for protein, ask them to throw some tofu into the mix). My carnivore companion recommends starting off with the Sa-Tay ($5.95), a generous portion of grilled sliced pork or chicken served with peanut sauce, and following up with Kai-Pad-Khing ($5.95): chicken with ginger, onion, and scallion, served with a heaping mound of jasmine rice. For an exceptional deal, order the dinner special between 5 and 11 p.m. and choose from one of 10 entrées served with jasmine rice, Tom Yum soup, two vegetarian egg rolls, and two chicken wings — all for $7.95.

Dok Bua also offers salads, including Yum-Pla-Muk ($6.95) — squid mixed with onion, basil, and chili paste in a spicy lime sauce — and noodles, like Pad-Ki-Mow ($5.95) — chicken or beef stir-fried with broad rice noodles, basil, tomato, onion, pepper, chili paste, and egg. Of course you can also order Thai standards like Pad Thai ($5.95), Thai Fried Rice ($5.95), and assorted curries ($7.95–$8.25). For dessert, have a bowl of Thai ice cream ($2.50) or just help yourself to the free Chinese tea that’s set out with mismatched little china cups for diners and shoppers.

If you’re still hungry, or want to try your hand at this kind of cooking at home, spend some time browsing the aisles after you’ve eaten. You can leave with a package of sweetened guava with chili ($2.25), crispy taro chips ($3.50), or sweet tamarind ($5.50). You can also pick up an Asian magazine or any of a dozen kinds of noodles. And if you’re just in need of basic groceries, Dok Bua sells those, too, and even offers pints of Ben & Jerry’s, in case Thai ice cream isn’t your fancy.

Dok Bua, located at 411 Harvard Street, in Brookline, is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Call (617) 277-7087.

Issue Date: December 13-20, 2001

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