RisingSons_KU

KRIS UGARRIZA/Herald photo

Every time I walk down State Street, I peer through the windows of dozens of restaurants I have yet to set foot in. Rising Sons Deli (617 State St.) was one such restaurant until recently when it became one of my favorite dinner spots.

Inside the door, Rising Sons looks like a ’50s-style diner, complete with high tables, swivel chairs and a bar with retro barstools. In spite of the vintage-American feel and the name of the restaurant, Rising Sons is neither a diner nor a deli; the menu boasts “Authentic Laos and Thai Food” and is full of mouthwatering Southeast Asian dishes.

To start off the meal, Rising Sons offers a variety of appetizers, including spring rolls (with a choice of meat or tofu), beef jerky (fried beef slices marinated with salt, sugar and topped with sesame seeds — a far cry from the sticks at gas stations), curry-seasoned chicken satay and pork egg rolls. The egg rolls are a steal at $1.25 each, and that was how I began my Rising Sons experience. They arrived at the table steaming hot with fish sauce and piqued my appetite perfectly for the entrees to come. The egg rolls were smaller than I expected, but they were freshly cooked and stuffed with cabbage, onion, noodles and pork, a league above what’s offered with delivery Chinese food.

Soon after the appetizers were finished, the waiter came by with the main course. The most popular entree on the menu is the Phad Thai ($6.95), which consists of rice noodles with eggs, bean sprouts and Rising Sons’ original peanut sauce and topped with peanuts and cilantro. Guests are offered a choice of chicken, pork, spicy beef, tofu or shrimp. It is the special sauce that makes the Phad Thai to die for. The peanut gives the dish a perfect amount salty-sweet flavor, but it is not overwhelmingly saucy. The portions were generous, and I found myself stuffing my mouth well past the time my stomach was full because the food was just so good.

Rising Sons offers a great mix of vegetarian options that don’t lack in flavor. The papaya salad ($5.95), made-to-order in any degree of spiciness, is served cold and is a taste explosion with papaya, tomato and pepper and yet another special sauce.

The fried rice, a safe choice on a menu that includes Mok Pa ($7.95, catfish wrapped in banana leaves), is still an excellent choice. It has light flavoring and is offered (like the Phad Thai) with a choice of meats or tofu and has a variety of tasty vegetables in jasmine rice.

Rising Sons Deli is a great spot to escape chain restaurants and try something new. The specialty sauces delight taste buds, the portions are substantial, and the prices are reasonable. The next time I visit, I might try sukiyaki noodle soup ($8.95) or yum neua ($8.95). However, being the creature of habit I am, I will probably order again the Phad Thai noodles that still make my mouth water.

4 1/2 stars out of 5