Thai in the East Bay: Soi 4 in Rockridge
New favorite Thai in the East Bay: Soi 4 in Rockridge. Somehow I got the idea from the location, decor, presentation, wine list, yuppie crowd, and so on that it was a fusion place, so had never gone there. Mea maxima culpa. Lucky for me Uzen happened to close early the other night.
The flavors were fairly hardcore Thai, the kitchen's not shy with the fish sauce or chiles. Steamed turnip cakes, nice and crispy, with a great mungbean sprout and herb salad. Grilled eggplant and minced pork salad, nice intense dressing. Crunchy Chinese broccoli with crisp pork belly. Perfectly grilled halibut. Very reasonable prices given the quality of the ingredients and cooking, good service, and pleasant atmosphere. Good wine for $6-7 a glass.
Looks like I won't be driving into the City to Thai House Express quite as often.
I've always had very good luck with Soi4 -- the appetizers have always been great, the basil chicken is perfect, the vegetables are well done, and they do great things with seafood. There can be significant waits for a table though, depending on when you go.
I've had mixed experiences with Soi 4. I once hosted a dinner for 6 people there and everyone left pretty unimpressed with the food and service. That night we ordered lots of seafood (I know we had the mussels and a whole fish) and the mussels were overcooked and scrawny, and nothing else was memorable. Maybe it was an off night.
On the other hand, my first visit there was great, probably because we got the "short ribs slow simmered in a basil, kaffir panang sauce" -- super tender short ribs in a wonderfully nutty panang sauce. True comfort food.
We love Soi 4. We eat there regularly. The food is always great. The soups are perfectly flavored, just enough lemongrass. And the green papaya salad is a masterpiece. I think one time or other we have had everything they offer. I even ate fish there, it was good, and I hate fish. The only dish we had a problem with was a beef dish, the problem. . . is was only OK. They set a high bar.
years ago i knew some of the staff there, and yes, they were all 'hardcore thai'. it was my thai food anchor south of berkeley.
I completely agree. We eat there about once a week or so, changing our selections nearly everytime (although the turnip cakes make it onto every order). I often pop in fairly late and order to go, enjoying a drink at the bar in the meantime.