Just to show that Hollywood doesn’t have a monopoly on contrivance, it’s worth noting how Hong Kong filmmakers dealt with the challenge of making a sequel to the gangster epic A Better Tomorrow. The problem (spoiler alert!) was that the charismatic protagonist Mark, played by the incomparable Chow Yun-Fat, was shot dead at the end of the first film. A Better Tomorrow 2 opens in Hong Kong and shifts to New York, where we encounter Ken, Mark’s long-lost identical twin, coincidentally played by Chow. For the rest of the movie, Ken is Mark 2.0, and he even dons his brother’s trademark shades and bullet-ridden trench coat for the climatic shootout.
Arriving at Boulder’s Aloy Thai Cuisine, I wondered if this restaurant is the Ken to its predecessor restaurant, Chy Thai, aka the Mark of this labored analogy. The location is the same, and an exterior banner touts that the food and ownership are the same, although the name has changed. Inside, the most noticeable difference is disappearance of the counter apparatus which gave the former incarnation a down-market, cafeteria vibe.
Friend Shannon and I went for lunch, when entrée pricing is based on your protein choice. One selects a stir-fry, curry, noodle or fried rice dish, and the cost for one with chicken, beef, pork or tofu is $8. Those prepared with shrimp or mixed seafood, consisting of mussel, squid and shrimp, cost $9. A cup of clear broth with vegetables, cleanly flavored and not overly salty, accompanies the entrees.
We started with the $6 Taud Mun Kung, an appetizer of four fried fish cakes with dipping sauce featuring diced cucumber and red onion. Bits of carrot and green vegetable dotted the piping hot patties, golden in appearance, and possessing delicate seafood savor set off by the dip’s tart and sweet qualities.
Shannon’s choice was a red roast chicken curry, awash in coconut milk, and the more than unusual additions of grape and pineapple. As always, the coconut provided rich notes, although the sweetness of this ingredient and the fruit suggested this dish might benefit from less sugar. That said, the complex curry (we didn’t specify spice levels) was a welcome antidote to wintry cold, and the creamy and peppery accents balanced nicely.
Similar equilibrium informed the Pad Kra Pow, a chicken stir-fry blending chile, Thai basil, bell pepper, bamboo shoots and onion. The chicken was moist and tender, and the veggies retained a welcome hint of crunch. Alternating bites of this entrée with fluffy rice made for an agreeable experience with the sharper qualities of chile and basil evening out the mellowness of poultry and vegetable.
To finish, we split a $5 dessert of mango and sweet sticky rice. The fruit was remarkably fresh and sweet, making for a welcome reminder of warmer climes in freezing temperature. Unlike other preparations where the rice is simply steamed and sweetened, the starch here was drenched in light syrup with almond notes. More significantly, the rice’s texture resembled a favored childhood Chinese dessert, bok tong go, greatly enhancing my enjoyment.
Like Ken of the Hong Kong movies, Aloy preserves the high points of its predecessor. While it may not take Thai cuisine to new places, it will likely satisfy cravings for this complex Southeast Asian fare, especially with the competitively priced lunch menu.
Aloy Thai Cuisine 2720 Canyon Blvd. Boulder 303-440-2903