Karen Thai Street Food Has Counterbalance

Pad Thai from Karen Thai Street Food

IF THE ENDLESS reels of Asian street food clips on Instagram and TikTok have you thinking your local takeout isn’t quite cutting it for authenticity, a cheery food stall at Saraga International Grocery will score you some foodie cred until you can book a flight to Thailand. Since late last spring, Karen Thai Street Food has been offering stir fries, noodles, and curries at a stand between the produce and seafood counter at Indy’s largest, most verdant global food market. And while the pad Thai, crab fried rice, and salad rolls definitely stand up to most of the sit-down Thai joints in the city, you’ll do well to stray from the familiar path and try some dishes with the flair of the ethnic group that hails from western Thailand along with border with Myanmar. Start with num tok, two large iceberg bowls piled with strips of tender beef drizzled with a tangy, briny fish sauce and lime dressing and showered with aromatics and crushed peanuts. It’s a perfectly cooling summer starter. But the real star is Karen boat noodles, named for the canal boat vendors that originally served them. A rich, sweet-spiced pork neck broth reminiscent of Vietnamese pho comes studded with tender sliced pork, spring pork meatballs, melting hunks of radish, and, of course, rice noodles, which is all served with a quartet of accompaniments including sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil so you can customize yours for the optimum social media shot—and the perfect balance of sour, sweet, and spicy flavors. 3605 Commercial Dr., 317-744-9900