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dining adventures on irving street parts 2 and 3 Long

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last week, after a long illness and the birth of another adorable nephew, steve and i finally resumed our "dining adventure on irving street." the idea, if you missed it, is to put all the names of all the restaurants on a block in a hat, pick one and then cross your fingers as you walk thru the front door.

last week was a lucky pick. we ended up at marnee thai between 23rd and 24th. Woven mats line the walls giving it a relaxed, casual feel. lunch was delicious, with dessert stealing the show.

we started off with spicy angel wings, nice fat drumettes deep fried first then sauteed with chilis and garlic and topped with lots of fried basil. they had a nice sticky sauce that went beautifully with the heat of the chilis.

next came the feared pad thai. signs on the wall proclaimed that the chef had taken the top place in a pad thai cook off so we had to try it. the noodles were soft and well coated with sauce, no clumps, and the prawns were large and cooked just thru. the generous pile of sprouts on the side were bright and fresh, the crunch of them the perfect foil to the soft noodles. the only things i missed were the extra peanuts and chili oil to adjust the heat to my liking.

we then shared kang dang (beef red curry with rice). the beef was cubed and cooked til it was falling apart. the braising liquid was curry, coconut milk and basil finished off with bamboo shoots. i had to eat seconds of the juice over rice it was so tasty.

we had ordered green papaya salad but it never appeared at our table and due to visiting friends our waiter was impossible to find. he also put down the check before we could order dessert so i had to ask if we could have what appears to be a signature dessert. (a picture of it and the recipe from the chronicle are under the glass tabletops)

when dessert finally came it was well worth the wait. called in english lotus seeds floating in coconut milk, this was divine. warm, thin coconut milk had tiny rice dumplings floating in it. some were orange, flavored with kabocha squash, there were green dumplings with a flavor i couldn't identify, and plain rice flour dumplings. it was exquisite and the perfect ending to our meal.

aside from the somewhat spotty service we'd definitely consider it a place worth going back to. 3 main dishes, dessert, 2 teas, tax and tip came to $37.

today we found ourselves on irving st. for another adventure. this time between 22nd and 23rd streets where we found probably 7 restaurants to choose from, including yum yum fish. but much to my chagrin we did not end up there. if you remember dining adventure #1 you'll know our luck doesn't always stick with us. today we ended up at thai spice.

although the interior is more sedate and well kept than marnee thai the food just didn't stand up to our lunch last week. thank heavens we decided to stay away from anything we'd eated at marnee, it would have been even more of a let down.

we started with ruam mit (mixed appetizer plate) which had fish cakes (they were rubbery and tasted of tofu) deep fried tofu, spring rolls filled with glass noodles, ground pork and crab, shrimp in a blanket (wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried) and curry puff (essentially a curried potato empanada). this came with four dipping sauces, peanut, honey, sweet and sour and cucumber flower sauce.

with our lunches came a bowl of hot and sour chicken soup. disappointing. canned broth with one piece of overcooked chicken and two slices of undercooked white mushroom and two tiny keffir lime leaves. i didn't finish mine.

deep fried soft shelled crab appeared next. i was so excited to see this on the lunch specials list i didn't even give thought to the fact it's not in season yet, so would be frozen. it was quite fishy and tho the panko breading was light and flavorful it wasn't what my tastebuds had in mind. this was served with the sweet and sour sauce.

the pumpkin yellow curry and beef with peanut sauce quickly followed. steve dove into the beef and i the curry. the chunks of squash were lovely and soft as were the potatoes and the yellow curry and coconut milk surrounding it had good flavor. the rather tough beef was on a bed of stringy spinach with a nice big pile of rice on the side. the curry was accompanied by a large mound of rice as well.

we didn't ask to see the dessert menu and with 2 iced teas our bill came to $41.

and so the adventure continues...

marnee thai
authentic siamese cuisine
2225 irving street
between 23rd and 24th
415-665-9500

thai spice restaurant
2123 irving
between 22nd and 23rd
415-753-3347

1730 polk
775-4777

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  1. Rochelle,
    What intrepid eaters you & Steve are! Casting your fate to the winds.....looking forward to reading about your further adventures.

    1. I'm sure it was slip of the finger to write "streets" when you meant "avenues," but for the sake of strangers, thought I'd point out the mistake to avoid possible confusion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fine

        thank you for the correction. not only am i notoriously bad with a map i'm sending people to a location that doesn't even exist!