Sen Yai: Restaurant Guide 2014

3384 SE Division St., 236-3573,

[ROADSIDE THAI] Andy Ricker's Sen Yai is a pale blue Kuaytiaw roadhouse of unabashed kitsch and unexpected decor, from cookbook pictures to fake flowers; recently, a group of visiting Thai set up camp in the main room for an hours-long card game while summer diners filled the outdoor tables. Get at least one soup noodle dish both for flavor and filler; the standby is the Kuaytiaw Reua "boat noodle" bowl with three different kinds of meat and a boatload of herbs. Beyond that, you can play around. The dragon egg ($7) is basically a Thai Scotch egg, while the khao phat naem rice dish mixes sour pork sausage with tomato and fish sauce for an almost bewilderingly dense flavor. Ricker's phat thai—long awaited by some—can be neglected in comparison to his terrific take on phat sii ew ($11), whose surprising delicacy makes it a lovely counterpoint in a menu studded with bolder flavors. The cocktails lean sweet-sour to complement the bitter-spicy food, but they may lean a little too hard; get beer except at weekend breakfast when the Thai-chili bloody mary ($9.50) is on offer to set off the sweet-savory mildness of Jok ($8), a Thai porridge dish that reads a bit like cream of rice. It's probably the smartest Sunday-morning breakfast decision in town. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Pro tip:

Sen Yai has a parking lot. On Southeast Division Street these days, that's like having a house masseuse.

11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-10 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$.