It has been a couple of weeks since Ruan Thai (11407 Amherst) reopened and the expanded space looks great: higher ceilings, freshly green-and-yellow-pastel-painted walls, clean and bright faux-wood floors and tables. A very nice remodel. Sound really carries in the new space (they used to have wall-to-wall carpet) but some tapestries on the walls should help with that — the walls were bare as of a few days ago.
Three times as many tables in the swanky new space. Hope the kitchen can keep up! They sure did when we were there, especially duck kaprow (or as Ruan puts it, probably more authentically, “kha prao”), every bit as good as the Nava version, with succulent but crisp-outside duck in a spicy-sweet basil sauce where the heat really sneaks up on you, in a good way. Ruan still makes the best pad prik khing (meat with green beans in spicy sauce) in town, and their mango sticky rice excelled on this day as well. Coconut chicken soup and stir-fried watercress also winners.
The old divey small space was often full for weekend dinner; the new space is not at all divey* and I hope they can fill it or at least come close. The food is certainly worth it.
* The whole strip looks a lot nicer with its new yellow coat of paint and new signage for Ren’s Ramen (open tomorrow!). Doubt Brother Chinese will get a makeover anytime soon, though.