The Hungry Chum: Thai food truck brings city flavors to Girdwood
It was like a treasure hunt, with hand-drawn signs every few blocks that eventually led us between two buildings, past a rhubarb bush and a large, lazy husky. Then we found it — in a little courtyard sat the small pink and blue trailer.
Known as Cheech & Nong’s Aroy-D Thai food truck, or any combination of those words, this is a summertime-only spot that locals wait for all year. When it opened for the season, the word spread quickly.
Several other diners sat at tables of various heights in the afternoon sun. Some were eating, others had already finished and were enjoying each other’s company and conversation.
We weren’t in a hurry either. This was a pitstop on our way to the Kenai Peninsula for the weekend. A menu was leaned up against the vivid-colored sides of the stationary trailer. In a flash, a face appeared in the window and a man slid it open just as quickly to greet us.
Nong, the chef, took our order of pad thai and kang kiew warn, a green curry ($10 each). We decided against ordering appetizers or drinks, reasoning that we didn’t want to have any leftovers and we had water and drinks packed in the car for the weekend.
We chose a high top table near the wooden fence that surrounds the courtyard, where we had both sunlight and shade. Just beyond the meager barrier, the sidewalk winds to other parts of downtown Girdwood.
Before it gets too far, there’s a life-size chess board with pieces made from upcycled buckets. Children were stacking the buckets into tall pyramids and taking turns running through them.
Under a red umbrella with a cool breeze blowing, we heard Nong call to us to tell us our food was ready. We ate it while listening to an extended version of Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s classic jam, “It Takes Two.”
“Don’t eat the chili in there. It’s a Thai chili,” Nong warned us about the curry. “I mean you could, but I wouldn’t.”
The kang kiew warn was just spicy enough to clear my sinuses and make me wonder if I should have ordered a drink after all. The curry — a mixture of bamboo shoots, chicken, coconut milk and Thai basil — was served in a Styrofoam bowl with rice on the side.
Also served in a disposable container, the pad thai came with miniature shrimp, chicken, egg, rice noodles and bean sprouts with lime, salt, red pepper flakes and peanuts on the side to customize to the eater’s liking.
It, too, was good. I wondered if the flavors were familiar because these were our go-to dishes when we dine out, but there was another reason I recognized them. Nong’s family owns Lahn Pad Thai in Anchorage.
You like the green curry there? It’s the same recipe, he told us.
In the fresh air and warm summer sun, Nong said he loves to work in the truck. It’s a welcomed respite from the hectic kitchen of Lahn Pad Thai, where his family works. Instead, Nong escapes to Girdwood and spends his summer afternoons — the truck opens at 1 p.m. — surrounded by suave tourists and crunchy locals.
Aroy-D doesn’t have a website or an official Facebook page, but the eatery’s hours are listed on Yelp. Word to the wise: It’s a cash only operation, so make sure you’ve got some greenbacks with you.
If you’re headed to the Forest Fair this weekend, but want to grab a bite away from the crowds, follow the signs to find what might be the happiest chef in Girdwood.
Always in search of the next great meal, The Hungry Chum brings you regular restaurant reviews with honest opinions. The views expressed are the writer’s, not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
More from The Hungry Chum
The post The Hungry Chum: Thai food truck brings city flavors to Girdwood appeared first on KTVA 11.