Modrý Zub Noodle Bar

If there were a "best fast food in the Wenceslas Square area" award, this Thai takeaway would be the winner

This article was originally posted on the Czech Please weblog.

A high-quality sandwich shop on Wenceslas Square is my dream. But then I wake up and deal with lunch reality. I've described this patch of Prague real estate as a culinary wasteland.

But it's so easy to be negative. Let's be positive today. It's award season. Let's give out an award.

(Drum roll)

"Ladies and gentleman, the Golden Stool for best fast food in the greater Wenceslas Square area goes to:

Modrý zub Noodle Bar at Jindřišská 5!" (Cue music and applause)

I know a lot of people who have eaten at Modrý zub, which means "(The) Blue Tooth." I asked them what they thought. Their reviews were mixed -- not very positive, along with disappointment that it wasn't better. Before this week, I was in that camp.

Now, that has changed and not because the Golden Stool awards ceremony fell on Let's Be Positive Day.

Modrý zub is a pretty interesting set up. In the front by the street, it looks like a café, with regular tables and seats. There is a glass case with desserts. There are waitresses and service at the tables.

But there is a hallway that bypasses the dining area and goes to the back. There, it looks more like a takeaway joint, with an open kitchen, stainless steel counters, plastic chairs and stools, and just a couple of tables. The cooks are working their woks behind the counter.

I was there for a meeting with L, and a bit surprised that every table in the front cafe was taken. We went to the back and found one empty table.

I got the "Tom Kha Kai" soup (60 CZK). This is the one thing I always thought they did pretty well. It has a nice sweet and sour coconut milk base, cilantro, lemon grass, fish sauce, a generous amount of chicken, and you can really taste the galangal floating in there. A real bargain.

L got the Phad Thai with chicken (135 CZK). You can also get it with tofu (130 CZK), pork (135 CZK) or shrimp (155 CZK). This dish of glass noodles, green onion, fish sauce, egg, peanuts, and more is the standard by which I judge all Thai restaurants. And this is where Modrý zub had failed in the past. I'd gotten it three times before. It always looked right, but even after I squeezed the lime slice on top, it was too bland. I didn't like it.

L gave me a bite of her Phad Thai. It was totally different than my earlier visits. It was much better. It was now much saltier, which brought up the other flavors. It was almost too salty, but I liked it. I would now order it again.

I got the Lab Mu (110 CZK), the hot Thai pork salad. I'd seen someone eating this the last time I visited. It looked great and asked the woman what it was. She told me and said she liked it. I like it, too. A lot. There is a generous mound of ground pork meat mixed with cilantro, mint, fish sauce, green and red onions, and red chilies. It is spicy. If you don't like hot dishes, avoid this one. Otherwise, go for it. I want more.

On two previous occasions, I tried the Kaeng Phed Kai, the chicken and red curry with rice (145 CZK). The first time, I loved it. The curry mixed with coconut milk was very, very spicy and also very thick, which is how I like it. I think there is some lime leaf as well. The second time, the curry was very watery and not as tasty. I was disappointed. I also tried the Kaeng Khiao Whan, the chicken and green curry with rice (145 CZK). It was good, but I preferred the red.

They also do a few sushi combinations. They have eight pieces of tuna, salmon, shrimp, and egg for 180 CZK. I haven't been tempted.

I should say here that two friends who tried Modrý zub said they liked it, but thought the food was heavily laced with monosodium glutamate (MSG) -- both were literally red-faced afterward. I didn't notice it myself.

Almost every dish on the menu is Asian, either Thai, Japanese, Indian. There is one odd exception to that. There is a Greek salad (70 CZK). Must be a demand for it.

You can see the full menu on their website and there is also a good photo gallery if you want to see more pictures:

They do quite a few takeaway orders. Based on how busy it was when we were there, I'd suggest calling in your order ahead if you don't want to wait around too long. Now that Modrý zub is an award-winning restaurant, it may only get more popular.

Then again, awards don't mean that much. Modrý zub could end up becoming the Marisa Tomei of restaurants: The toast of the town, holding the golden statue, and then the next day, everyone is asking, "What were they thinking?"

You know what they say: You're only as good as your last Phad Thai.

Modrý zub

Jindřišská 5

Tel. (+420) 222 212 622

E-mail: [email protected]

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