Thai Place doesn't offer the profusion of exciting seafood specials featured at some of the other Thai restaurants in the area, and what seafood it has isn't distinguished.

But this is still a lovely restaurant, with mostly excellent food, good service, a pretty environment and very low prices. And it remains a very good dining-out classroom in which to learn about basic Thai sauces.

The sparsely decorated dining room is open-looking, yet there's a seductive coziness about it, with warm, soft lighting after dark and a bright, cheery look at lunchtime. In warm weather, you can often spy Thai herbs growing near the front door.

One way to organize your ordering in any Thai restaurant is to divide the appetizers and entrees into hot and mild, and to make your decisions accordingly.

Among the hot appetizers, yum neua is a jewel -- beautiful, marinated cold beef, rare and fork-tender, in a peppery, lemony sauce with big chunks of sweet raw onion. (Seafood lovers take note: the same dish is available with excellent, tender squid.)

Mild appetizers include flavorful pork or beef satay, nicely grilled and with a good hot-sweet-peanuty sauce, and excellent egg rolls that are light and remarkably free of excess oil.

Be sure to try the soup. Among the mild ones, aim for the lovely won ton and roast pork varieties. For something livelier, there's kai tom ka a complex blend of chicken, lemon, chili peppers, coconut milk and Thai herbs.

The standard Thai sauces, all excellent, are available with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp and squid. We've found the shrimp somewhat dry and flavorless lately, but the rest of the list has been reliably good -- the squid in particular is sweet and tender.

Among the hot sauces, pad pik king is made with chili paste and crisp green beans, the two giving a marvelous contrast in flavors and textures. Ka prow sauce combines green chili peppers with Thai basil and slivers of garlic. It's delightfully pungent, and especially good with beef. Kratiam pik Thai is the least fiery of the hot sauces, a heady combination of white pepper and garlic best enjoyed with seafood.

Mild entree sauces, generally slightly sweetened, can be found among the noodle dishes, such as gwaytio lard na, a combination of chewy rice noodles, broccoli and beef or pork, or in the excellent mixed vergetables, called pad pak. Or in kai yad sai a delightful dish in which ground pork is mixed with a lively combination of tomato, green pepper and onion and wrapped in a thin, tender omelette.

Don't forget the two Thai curry dishes, both very well prepared: a curry of the day, generally fish or pork, and steamed fish filets in curry sauce, called haw mok . Both have velvety, multiflavored sauces in which coconut is used liberally.