Albany/San Pablo - Sa Wooei - Mien Thai?
I saw one brief post on Chowhound from 2002 that mentions that this restaurant has good Thai food. There is a review of the San Pablo location below which just sounds fascinating.
This will probably be my next stop after I'm done with Pinole/El Sobrante. So has anyone tried Sa Wooei Thai Cuisine and have any recs?
I was trying to learn a little about the lu Mien since there are quite a few Mien markets in this area. I wanted to see what to expect when I walked in the door. My search brought up Sa Wooei.
BTW, this is just a great article about San Pablo. Lot's of history, but information about markets and restaurants and lots of history about San Pablo Supermarket in the International Plaza. I, for one, think this is a terrific market and not as shabby as the article makes out. Gives me a few places to check out. I thought Rumrill looked interesting.
have not been for dinner for many years, but the lunch specials are a fantastic deal- I have been indulging for more than a year now (as of April 08). Most are about $5.25. The cooking is fairly un-Americanized; I can't vouch for authenticity, but as a regular, I see a steady and frequent stream of Thai regulars (there is one Thai lady I see about half the times I go to lunch who often has a dish there and leaves with 3-6 additional to go). Gai Ga Prow for instance is agressively flavoured; heavier on the fish sauce than most places and many dishes make more use of a strongly flavoured bamboo shoot than other restaurants (influence of Lao and Issan cooking). Spicy here is pretty spicy- equivalent to medium at Ruen Pair (Albany) which itself is spicier than spicy at 95% of restaurants in the area. Actually, spicy may in fact be "medium;" I often think I hear the waitress say "medium" after I agree to "spicy." If true, you may be able to press your case. I am happy with what I am getting, though.
10621 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530
If you actually go about 5-10 mins away from Albany/San Pablo to El Cerrito, you will find a plaza. It's right off the 580 freeway and I think you'll like all the restaurants and the Ranch 99 you find there. My favorite is VH2 inside the plaza. The original VH (Vien Houng) is in Oakland. People will line up outside on busy days to get a bowl on chew jew ho fun from this place. Definitely order the ho fun, it's the best.
Sa Wooei is a tossup for my favorite
Thai. Ruen Pair is better for salads and cold dishes, I think, but this place does hot real tasty. I;m embarassed at how often I just get a tom kum ga and an order of hot wings. Must-eat-more-fish.
Nice to eat here on a rainy, rainy night--watching puddles and lights down below, you can feel far from El Cerrito.
"Southron-style" directions: it's right across from where Gou Bou Li used to be.
I concur with the previous posters. The food is very good and the service is always great. Sa Wooei seems big from outside but it's actually quite small inside. As mentioned, the duck is well prepared though sometimes it can be on the fatty side. If youre planning to go on a Friday night you just might have to wait for a table. If wait is more than 10 min. I would suggest driving further down or up San Pablo to Ruein Pair in Albany. The name sounds awful in English but the food very good.
If you go there, remember to try their Special Steamed Fish (not on the menu), it is a whole fish served on a heating platter. It is then drenched on a mixture of lemon/or lime juice, fish sauce, and lots of garlic and ground thai chilli. It is quite spicy, so beware.
The fish dish matches nicely with Sa Wooei's special duck and their steaming white rice. mmm mmm mmm.
I ate there five or six times, but I'll admit it's been a number of years -- it was before their Solano branch opened. Don't think I've been there in four years, but I haven't been driving as much either...
The food was really good. The one thing that sticks out in my mind was the overly attentive waiter. He actually *stared* at us as we ate. It was nice to get water refills when our glasses were at the halfway point, but having someone watch you eat (even from across the room) was creepy. It only happened the time when we were the only ones in the restaurant.
It's also upstairs, so if you have ambulatory restrictions, it's not accessible. That said, the extra level helps damp down the noise from San Pablo.
Memory suggests a decent ice cream place across the street from them. But, as I said, it's been years...