This is not only my favorite Thai restaurant in the city, but also one of the best BYOs in the city. Formerly known as Cafe de Laos, newly-named Ratchada has been renovated and the menu pared down. This is a good thing because the selection used to be a little bit overwhelming for me (there were actually two menus - one for Thai, the other Laotian). They combined the two and edited it down to include what I'm guessing are their most popular dishes - all of MY favorites, with one notable exception, are still available.
The expected Thai staples - Pad Thai, Curry etc. - are always wonderful but if you want to venture outside of the traditional basics, try the amazing Chu-chee Duck - perfectly prepared duck (crispy skin on the outside, succulently moist meat on the inside) with a creamy yet delicate pineapple sauce and fresh steamed vegetables. If you enjoy a sweet and savory combination you will love this. Take along a bottle of crisp reisling and you'll have the perfect combo. The tulip dumpling appetizers are also delicious and fun - flower-shaped packages stuffed with seasoned pork meatballs, with a dipping sauce that has the perfect amount of vinegar to cut the umami of the pork. The Thai appetizer sampler includes the tulip dumpling as well as chicken satay, spring rolls and salmon dumplings and they each have their own special dipping sauces.
As alluded to above, my one and only disappointment about the new menu is that they no longer have one of my favorite dishes - the Laab Tuna - cubed Sushi tuna on a bed of julienned french fried onions and lettuce, and sprinkled with a spicy wasabi dressing. Last time I was there the owner told me that they are going to bring it back and I hope they do it soon!
This restaurant may be off the beaten center-city path but it's well worth the trip to South Philly. I do think they need to light up their signage a bit because at night it's a little hard to see so the restaurant might be a little hard to find if you're not familiar with it already.
Although they also offer take-out and delivery, eating in is wonderful because the service can't be beat. It's a great place for a romantic dinner or fun with a group - I've been to two dinners there where we had at least a dozen people and the service was still amazing. The owners and staff are so welcoming, always smiling, polite and accommodating - just really nice people. The owner visits every table to check in during your meal to make sure that everything is perfect. I can't recommend this place enough! Buy some wine and go there already!!!
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