I like the continuing trend of Houston's food trucks increasingly accepting credit/debit cards. Pi Pizza Truck, The Rice Box, Ladybird, and now Pad Thai Box all take your plastic, happily. Any last excuses you really had about "never carrying cash" fly out the window, leaving you free to explore some of the city's newest mobile eats.
In the case of Pad Thai Box, it was a blustery night in late December when I decided that I was neither in the mood to go to a sit-down restaurant nor a drive-through and remembered that the new food truck was only a few blocks away -- and took cards. It was settled.
The small trailer is the most petite food truck I've yet encountered, manned on quiet nights by only one person: its owner, an affable young man named Bo. He started out as a server with dreams of one day opening his own restaurant; the Pad Thai Box is his first step in completing that journey.
I watched as Bo mixed up an order of pad thai ($5) astonishingly quickly, and tossed it into a portable plastic container along with a smaller dish of shrimp shumai ($4) to-go. He threw in a giant glass of Thai iced tea ($2) on the house, laughing as he told me when I protested that I could pay double for the next one if I liked it.
I did like it, in fact. The tea was gently sweet despite its ample topping of sweetened condensed milk, notes of anise and orange blossom still coming through the sweetness. I was equally taken with the soft little shrimp dumplings, nicely steamed and garnished with a bright jumble of zested ginger and scallions.
The pad thai itself was less than impressive, however, no matter how much I tried to will myself into liking it. The noodles clumped together and were altogether underseasoned, despite squeezing extra lime on top. I felt that if I'd eaten the pad thai there -- on the porch of The Fairview, instead of in my living room watching yet another episode of Hoarders -- it would have held up better. The ride home didn't treat it well, but the noodles wouldn't have been so dried out in the first place had there been more sauce.
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On the other hand, the potential was there. Bo admitted that he'd never cooked nor run a restaurant/food truck before Pad Thai Box, and I think he'll conquer the learning curve yet. For the meantime, it's quick, easy and inexpensive considering what you'd pay for to-go orders at many Thai restaurants. (Not to mention you can reuse the sturdy plastic containers; free Tupperware!)
You can find Bo and his Box at The Davenport some nights, at The Fairview others, and on Twitter the rest of the time.