In a sudden clash of West meets East, a thrusting Elvis standing under traditional Chinese artwork welcomes you to Cozy Noodles & Rice. It only becomes more difficult to remember you're in a Thai-fusion restaurant by looking at the contents of the garish yellow walls. Except for the occasional Asian-inspired painting, they're saturated with Pez dispensers, bobble-head dolls and those antique aluminum lunchboxes that no one in grade school even seemed to carry.
The discord ends somewhere in between the walls and the menu, which offers primarily Thai fare. For starters, play it safe with the traditional crab rangoon or pot stickers. If you're feeling more daring, go for the tom yum soup, a surprisingly spicy broth with straw mushrooms and tomatoes and seasoned with lemongrass, citrus leaves and lime juice. The pad thai, a conglomeration of stir-fried thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, egg, green onion, ground peanuts and a wedge of fresh lime, achieves the exact level of zip that most Thai kitchens fail to perfect.
As if the food isn't reason enough to become a regular, the prices make it even more alluring. Only one dish costs more than $6, and the lunch specials offer dinner portions plus an appetizer for no more than $5.50. BYOB.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown