Across Walgreens along Bird Avenue corner Willow Street, San Jose, California, is a mysterious looking restaurant that makes me curious because of its darkly tinted glass door and walls. Much as I wanted to have a clue as to what kind of ambiance it has and what kind of customers frequent the place, the seemingly impenetrable facade stares blank at me. It took me more than a couple of trips to Walgreens until I decided to put an end to my curiosity.
Arm in arm with my daughter, we bravely tried the door which, disappointingly, had a “Do not enter” sign. Not about to give up, but prepared to leave, I turned back to give it another look…and saw a tiny handwritten “Use other door” with an arrow directed to the left. So, what looked like another wall panel is a door, after all. We pushed it and a creepy black gowned witch from the ceiling greeted us with a creaking door sound background. An early Halloween cheer, I mumbled, it’s only the first week of October. A nice lady in white uniform with a white apron to match greeted us in a friendly Asian sing song voice and offered us a table for two. It was 11am, and only s4 tables far apart from each other have been occupied. We studied the menu and decided to order the more familiar fresh spring roll “guo cuon” and pad Thai. My daughter also added pork in red curry sauce. The waitress asked her if she wants it hot, my daughter said “very hot” and the waitress asked, Thai hot? Yes, we chorused. And so, while waiting for our order, we were kind of gazing floor to ceiling, wall to wall, table to table…but cannot find an exact definition for the place. It is inconspicuous, for one, but maybe, it has it’s own charm for the incoming guests that are now coming in twos or fours and filling the tables. The theme of the place is like an old English tavern or Irish pub, without the bar, or maybe I didn’t look harder. The dark walls and furniture contrasted with the white table lined with white paper. I can imagine a scene in The Godfather happening in one corner table with some characters in clandestine meeting.
My reverie was broken by the arrival of a platter of assorted pickled vegetables for appetizer.
It served its purpose as I felt eager to start my main course. My pad Thai had pieces of prawns in it. It tasted fresh and juicy. I cannot decide if my pad Thai was good enough, I just know that my 21 year old son’s version back home was a lot better.
My daughter’s guo cuon finally came with peanut sauce. It looked very attractive. It also had prawns in it as ordered. It tasted good with peanut sauce.
The final order, pork in red curry sauce was delicious and, yes, Thai hot, as promised!
We truly enjoyed our meal and still have a large leftover to take home. It was also very reasonably priced at US$24.00 inclusive of tax and tip.
By the time we finished, more guests teemed the place. We graciously complimented the food and good service. On our way out, we came face to face with a life-size skeleton planted at the door and as we pulled the handle, we were sent off with the more funny than scary “he eh , he eh , he eh, he eh, he eh “