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President Thai in Pasadena

Pasadena is hardly the most fertile stomping ground for good Thai cuisine, but President Thai on Rosemead Blvd. is definitely worth a trip. The ambiance adds to the overall flavor - designed to look like a Thai temple of sorts complete with trickling water falls and golden buddha statues.

The Pad Thai is teeming with seafood and the satay is excellent - served with sticky rice! Reasonable prices too. I'm a fan!

http://president-thai.com/

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  1. Just went to President Thai this past weekend. The place is very large but the parking situation sucks. They have a small lot which fills up fast--your other option is parking on the street, which is busy and cars go fast.

    The food was really good, the best Thai food in Pasadena. We had the spicy duck salad, fried soft-shell crab in a spicy sauce, pad thai with chicken (for the kids), chinese broccoli with crispy pork, and crispy sea bass in a chi-chi sauce (red curry base.) The interior of the restaurant is peaceful and spacious with many fountains especially on the outside patio. The duck salad featured crisp-skinned suck breast in a lime/mint/chili vinagrette with greens. The soft-shell crab was fried well, not greasy, served with a red chili/slightly sweet sauce on the side. The pad thai tasted fresh, not too sweet. The sea bass had a crispy skin and moist flesh, with a rich red curry sauce. I probably wouldn't order it again b/c I like fish fillets better, but it was tasty with the sauce on top. My favorite dish was the Chinese broccoli with crispy pork--the chunks of pork were crispy and savory, not greasy at all.

    We had ordered take--out from President Two, hoping that the dishes might be similar, but were sorely disappointed. The pad thai was dark brown and tasted old, with clumps of stuck-together noodles. I asked for Chinese broccoli and they gave me beef with broccoli instead, very uninspired tasting. The 3 flavors shrimp were basically those breaded shrimp you can buy in the store with a too-sweet sauce on top. And lastly, we ordered chicken with chilies and tofu, and it was just average. Won't be ordering from there again. But we were really happy with President Thai!!

    1. I've only been to President Thai once, but I'm definitely going back soon. We sat out on the patio and thought it was really lovely--my husband spent a year in Thailand back in his Air Force days and he found the atmosphere at President Thai to be very reminiscent of Thailand. The food was all good...I just have nothing but rave reviews for everything we tried. I'm vegetarian and had no trouble finding PLENTY on the menu, and that's always a good thing.

      1. I like President Thai. Its close and convenient for me and I think the food is good, much better than Saladang, and much more reasonable. Almost erything I have ordered is good, I especailly enjoy the Larb, which I somtimes get to take in. Its not Thai town, as there are many on this board who only like the Tahi there. But I enjoy it. The parking does suck, but the service is usally very good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rantsnravesnreviews

          In addendum to my previous post, I also like the chicken with soft tofu and chilies. Really delicious. Ask for extra chicken b/c otherwise the tofu tends to dominate.

        2. I like President Thai, though thus far I've only ordered their more Americanized dishes (panang and green curries, pad thai & pad see ew) - can't wait to try more of their other items in the future.

          ~H.C.
          http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

          1. We haven't been in a while; we've gone to the new location only once, and thought both the food and the atmosphere had strangely suffered. The old place was small and crowded, but very friendly and the food was very good. Cheaper than Saladang Song, and better on some things, though not everything (as long as SS has those corn fritters on the menu it remains at the top of my list!). But I don't know whether it was the lackadaisical attitude of the mostly teenage servers in the new building or the two families' worth of screaming children running madly around, but we could hardly pay any attention to the food and have not been back. At least in the old place the owner was right there keeping an eye on things, and service was always snappy.

            1. A truly pedestrian restaurant, even by SGV-Thai standards.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I've been wondering if we should give them another try, because we had a very similar experience to Will Owen's post above not long after they reopened because we were also regular customers before that. We got our food in very haphazard order, it appeared to have been sitting out a good while before it was brought to us, and then we waited a really long time for the salad which came at the very end 20 minutes after we had eaten the rest of our meal. When we mentioned this was not what we had expected (and we are not ones to send food back as a rule) we were in fact informed that "Asians don't care what order it comes out, and if you want it in a special order you need to say in advance" I swear this was very close to the words they told us and it didn't make us feel welcome.

                Since they have been busy since then, I've been wondering if that was a transition period . . . since as people mention, this isn't the best place for Thai food. My Thai friends seem to gravitate toward higher end Chinese in the SGV, and are not less than critical of our local options.

                1. re: MaryT

                  "Asians don't care what order it comes out"...WHAT?? That is both a gross simplification and wrong. Perhaps they don't care in Thailand, or some part of Thailand, but many different kinds of Asian meals follow a traditional pattern, sometimes varying from region to region, like our regional preferences concerning when to serve the salad.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I agree with you, Will, but maybe the person truly was a spokespoerson for the Asian peoples.

                    The fact is, many restaurants, perhaps more like MOST restaurants, are opened by people will little formal food knowledge or training. Immigrants often open restaurants because they have competitive advantages; free labor (family) and (exotic) food knowledge usually gained via osmosis or mama, which they brought with them. The average American could probably open a burger stand and make a fairly palatable burger in say, Thailand, (like a non-cook friend has done) because he has eaten many, many burgers in his life and his clientele has not. What passes for "Chinese" food in parts of the US (and many places of the world) would not be considered recognizable as such in China. Herein lies the conflict between authenticity and access but that's a discuss for another day.

                  2. re: MaryT

                    People keep comparing President Thai to Saladang/Saladang Song, but I guarantee that you wouldn't get that kind of service at either of those restaurants. A difference that I don't mind paying for.

                    1. re: MaryT

                      I agree that Asian restaurants don't pay attention to the order of food servings. I find that there is a direct relationship between the authenticity of the food and the lack of proper order. For example, Filipino restaurants around the Los Angeles area serve you dishes as they are cooked. When I took a trip to the Philippines a couple of years ago, I found it interesting that the good local places did the same thing. Then I said, "duuhhh!". Of course there is no formal order because Filipino tradition calls for family style meals where the food is placed all at once on the table and then the guests are called to the table (or banana leaf covered ground in the the provinces). Filipinos, like other Asians, enjoy "family-style" meals. It was only in the fancy Americanized restaurants in Manila where they followed the Western order of appetizer, salad, soup, entree, etc. Of course, their food also tasted like an American's version of Filipino food. Yes, you have to tell the server which dishes you want served first.

                  3. It's an average place. It seems more Chinese-Thai than Thai to me.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      It seems like many of the Thai places have a heavy Chinese influence, and include many Chinese menu items from what I can tell . . . my next door neighbors are Thai; they say that their home cooking is not really Thai, more Chinese (lots of stir fries and grilled meats and vegetables, not so much curry).

                      Re the ordering of the courses, yeah, it seemed more rude than accurate. But they were disorganized when they first opened too. And, I've learned to order salad before ordering the rest of my meal if I want it ahead -- and I don't mean just in Asian restaurants!

                      I've tried many of the Thai places in our area and had some good dishes but haven't been thrilled overall with any of them (Saladong, Chandra, some of the smaller lower key places). I will say that one place that at least will make it spicier for us is A Taste of Bangkok, and we've learned some of the dishes we like and don't like there. It's not fancy, and it's not great, but sometimes it can hit the spot.

                      1. re: MaryT

                        I agree. I got to certain Thai places for certain dishes and avoid others at these same places. It is hit-or-miss. I have never found a Thai place that does everything I like really well.
                        I have never been to President. But, I will have to say that PresidenTwo makes most of the dishes I like very well. I have never had any issues with the order that items are served or the attitude. They always treat me like family and seem genuinely happy to see me.
                        Chandra used to be my fave til they pissed me off. I had not gone there for about 3 years and then decided to give them a shot recently. But you know what? I decided that I actually like PresidenTwo better!!

                        1. re: MaryT

                          Why not try Yoma Burmese instead? there is no Chinese owner/op in that restaurant. Joan bought out the place ~2 years ago and it's now eons above anything Golden Triangle is throwing down.

                          -----
                          Yoma Restaurant
                          713 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA

                      2. I am deeply addicted to the Chinese broccoli and deep fried pork belly

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Mimseats

                          Oh, me too Mimseats--love that crispy pork. Will, I agree with you on that point about the order of things. I think the service at President has improved quite a bit--they're pretty on the ball now. However, you do have to specify what order you want things brought out, otherwise it's an onslaught all at once. We usually get the spicy duck salad and the President soft shell crab first, then the spicy chicken with soft tofu and Chinese broccoli with crispy pork. I also agree with you that certain Thai restaurants make certain dishes very well but it's hard to find one that does absolutely everything great. My number one fave is Jitlada in Thai Town.