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Friday, March 6, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 1.0° F  Fair
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Rising Sons Deli rises again on State Street
The downtown Madison kitchen turns out home-style Lao-Thai dishes
This family-run restaurant is a welcome entry into the lower State Street dining mix, where chains now predominate.
Credit:Linda Falkenstein

It's been only a little over two years since I last reviewed Rising Sons Deli, the Lao-Thai restaurant that was at that time lodged at the now-defunct University Square Mall. Rising Sons has since made the move to the big league -- State Street -- with more seating but few remaining "deli" aspects to the operation.

The cooler with heat-up takeout options is now just stocked with cans of sodas. The lunchtime mini-buffet, good for a fast lunch, is still in operation, although its options have diminished while its price has increased.

In 2005, the buffet was a "choose two" from a selection of a salad, three entrees, and appetizers including egg rolls and fried plantain. Now it's still pick two, but from a choice of four entrees -- on a recent visit featuring a chicken massaman curry, a red curry with vegetables and tofu, tohm kehm (pork with hard boiled eggs in a dark sweet soy sauce) and some sort of noodle stir fry with cabbage.

The tohm kehm, while it looks a little frightening to the average American luncher, is actually quite good. The chicken curry is mild but good, made with green beans, potatoes and coconut milk. The red curry is also milder than I'd prefer, but perfectly acceptable fare. The cost, $7.33, including tax and your choice of a can of soda, isn't too bad considering the serving is enough for at least two meals, but with the greater freedom to choose your entrees and spice level, you might do better ordering off the menu.

The pa laad prik ($10) is my first choice, deep-fried catfish nuggets in a hot, spicy sauce that is good, although it still doesn't come up to the benchmark that the defunct Viet Foods to Go on Sherman Avenue set for spicy catfish dishes. Curry squash ($8), with choice of meat, tofu, or shrimp, is another standard Thai dish that Rising Sons does well. Dishes can be ordered with sticky rice ($2.50), too.

This family-run restaurant is a welcome entry into the lower State Street dining mix, where chains now predominate. Rising Sons' somewhat bizarre pop-art interior decor includes a restful side garden with tables off of the main State Street drag, a counter for fast-dash dining, and tables in the front and rear. Now if they would just beef up the lunch special choices.

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