Noms: The Rice Barn, Needham

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Just last week, we moved from Brookline to the town of Needham. Since our kitchen is still under construction, we’ve been forced to eat out more than we normally do. Given this, we thought it would be fun to write a review of a Needham restaurant we had never been to before: The Rice Barn.

Located right in Needham Center, The Rice Barn is the premier Thai food restaurant in town. While the inside of the establishment is a bit more upscale than we are used to, the atmosphere is far from stuffy, and the menu is very accessible. The restaurant website explains that its menu offers a “diverse selection of dishes,” including Thai traditional village delicacies as well as flavors from other parts of Asia. Among some of the options are various noodle dishes like Chinatown Street Noodle, which is inspired by Bangkok’s Chinatown; Saigon Beef, which is a traditional dish from Vietnam; and Chiang Mai Noodle, which is described as a “wonderful ethnic dish from northern Thailand, influenced by Burmese cuisine.”

While we are somewhat adventurous eaters in general, we decided to stick with the more popular options that we recognized from other Asian establishments. Joanne started with a lovely take on wonton soup, with a warm, rich broth and perfect pork-stuffed wontons. For main dishes, Jonah went with the special yellow curry, which boasted shrimp, avocado, and mango paired with rice. Joanne opted for the traditional pad Thai with shrimp. Both dishes were delightful. Joanne commented that her pad Thai was one of the best she had ever had. Jonah was very pleased with his curry, especially enjoying the flavorful curry sauce, but he found the avocado to be a bit overwhelming in amount, as he was given nearly half of an avocado with the dish. The perfectly cooked rice that came with Jonah’s curry was served in a beautiful pyramid configuration, with white rice at the bottom and brown rice at the top.

The best part of both meals was that The Rice Barn did not scrimp on the shrimp! At other establishments, we often receive only three or four shrimp in a dish, but we counted that each of us got about eight shrimp, which is double what we expected. And while the menu prices at The Rice Barn are not cheap, we felt like we got a good amount of food for our money. The service was friendly and prompt, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. When we return, we will try to be a bit more adventurous with our menu selections.