J’s Noodles and New Thai is a hidden gem on Parker Road

Barbecue chicken at J’s Noodles and New Thai on Parker Road. (Greg McBoat, Denver Post special)

Editor’s note: This is the first in our new series, Hidden Gems, in which we take a look at those restaurants you should know about but might not. They are either hidden away in malls or off the beaten path. Try them and if you like what you eat, spread the word.

Let’s skip the part where we pretend we’re shocked there’s good food in a mall. And also skip the part where we use it as a descriptor, as if a mall restaurant couldn’t stand up to a trendy, downtown, standalone restaurant simply because of its implied handicap of being adjacent to a cleaner at dry and a Large Clips. Or – gasp – maybe even residing in the suburbs.

Let’s talk about J’s Noodles & New Thai on Parker Road (not to be confused with – but how not to be? – J’s Noodles Star Thai on Federal Boulevard) as if it were a normal restaurant. Because, of course, it is. Judy Teawdeswan has run the two J’s Noodles Thai restaurants for the past two decades, but for the past 12 years she’s been at the Parker Road location, having sold the Federal Boulevard spot to her nephew.

The recipes of the two Js, she insisted, are not the same. I enjoyed both restaurants, but New Thai (we’ll call it that for clarity, but there’s really nothing new about it) is the one I visited most recently, and the The food was so good and the prices so horribly cheap, more people should know about it.

Almost everything on the menu is $9.95, and given that I can’t even go 50 miles for $9.95 anymore – which is exactly the distance from New Thai to my house – it’s a testament to both its value and quality. To find anything at this price, not to mention one of the most fiery and nutty Panang curries and sweetest and tastiest Massaman curries I’ve had, is a win. And come on, have you looked around the world lately? Let’s take a curry win when we can get one.

You’ll pay a dollar more for fresh noodles, but put them in your creamy yellow curry Bangkok noodles or your tangy Country Pad Thai because, well, if someone offers you fresh noodles, make hand and labor intensive for a dollar, you better take them on that.

If barbecue chicken is available, you’ll probably want to get that too. Half poultry is cut into chunks of juicy black and white meats, tinged with lemongrass and garlic, served with a sweet chili sauce. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on regional Thai street food or anything, but New Thai’s version, despite being baked before getting a quick pan-char (instead of being grilled over traditional charcoal), has that same alley appeal, the thrill of discovering something both different and familiar.

Two other things you need to know about J’s Noodles & New Thai: it’s always take-out only and it’s spicy. So if you live 25 miles away like me, you’ll need to find somewhere to eat, and yes, your car is perfectly fine for eating noodles and gnawing on chicken. And if, like me too, you usually order your food hot, take it down a notch here. Hot is HOT.

Teawdeswan tells anyone who will listen that the restaurant is struggling. Business is down and only a few people came in the 30 or so minutes I was there at dinner time last week. But I hope more people will come to J’s – the normal restaurant in the normal mall with abnormally good and cheap food.

Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news delivered straight to your inbox.

Previous Taco Street Responds to Point Ruston, Farmers' Market Dispute
Next 24 new restaurants slated to open soon in Philadelphia