Finding flavor in Milwaukie: Review of Rice Thai Cookery
Milwaukie on a Monday night is somewhat less than magical. Like most small towns around the world, they roll their streets up when the lights come on. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a good meal – in this case, some good, solid Thai food at Rice Thai Cookery on Main Street.
We arrived around 8 p.m., an hour before closing time, to find an establishment empty of patrons and smelling of cleaning products. Due to the relatively late hour and the traditionally slow day for patronizing restaurants I almost gave up hope of a good meal – thankfully I stuck it out.
To start, we ordered the chicken satay which arrived with a vinegar and cucumber wash and a peanut sauce even Goldilocks would have enjoyed – not too this, not too that – just right.
Next was the fried calamari for my ever-present wing-woman. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. She liked it so much, she got an order to go at the end of our meal.
I opted for the chicken pot stickers which were, like the calamari, fried to perfection on the outside yet tender and juicy in the middle.
The calamari and pot stickers both arrived with a side of sweet and sour sauce that ended up being the star of the meal. Just the right sweet, just the right spicy-hot. I’ll admit to wiping up the drops on my plate with a finger so as not to waste even the smallest amount. The things we’ll do for love of food.
For our main entrées, we stuck with the chicken theme and ordered both the lemongrass chicken, with mild spiciness and the orange chicken at a medium spiciness. Both dishes came with enough rice for one person, or two if they don’t eat much rice.
The lemongrass chicken arrived on a bed of stemmed broccoli and covered in peanut sauce. The lemongrass flavor was almost overpowering, yet still fresh and delicate – if you could get it away from the peanut sauce long enough to taste it. The sauce cut the flavor significantly and I’d have rather had it served on the side as was done with the appetizers.
Then there was the orange chicken. What to say? It tasted strongly of tempura batter and not much else – so much so that all the flavor was buried so deeply that nothing of the chicken or sauce was able to reach above the surface and tickle the taste buds. Of the five spiciness levels we opted for medium, which should have put it right in the middle but didn’t. Opting for hot or even Thai hot may have ramped up the flavor. It certainly couldn’t have hurt. On the upside, it made wonderful leftovers once the sauce had a chance to penetrate and permeate the thick batter.
Overall, this was some good, solid Thai food. The portions of each platter hovered in the $16 to $20 range and provided enough food to feed two people. If you order multiple dishes, as we did, expect to take home some leftovers. Especially if you over-indulge in appetizers, which you will want to do lest you miss out on the amazing sweet and sour sauce. I would go back at least one more time, but beyond the sweet and sour sauce, nothing stood out as over-the-top.
Beyond average, below amazing, but worth the visit.
Rice Thai Cookery, 10614 SE Main St. in Milwaukie, Oregon, is open Mon – Fri 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Sat – Sun 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Find the menu online at www.ricepdx.com