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ISO Family Friendly excellent Thai

My family (husband, 2yo daughter and I) will be meeting another family (2 adults, 2 kids under 3) in San Fran this Sunday. We are from MN and want to have excellent Thai. My standard for Thai is Sriprphai in Queens NY, where I am originally from. I want the best I can get in a place that will be ok with 3 kids. Things that make a place family friendly for me: large space, high chairs, friendly staff, reasonably wait time for a table. We will be staying at the Hilton in the embarcadero/financial district but can travel some.

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  1. I am curious to know why there were no suggestions on this. Are there no options? I will say that we went to someplace called something like Nanking and while the food was good, they were not child friendly. In fact, I was surprised by how many places did not have high chairs and seemed annoyed by our children even though they were not exactly upscale and it was early evening, 5pm or so.

    4 Replies
    1. re: AliceS

      If you are talking about House of Nanking, they are not Thai and they are annoyed when most people enter the restaurant ... child or adult.

      Many of these questions are repetative. I don't know how many tourist requests there are on the Midwest boards, but on SF there are at least two a day. So it might have helped to search 'Thai' in this board, read up on what appealed to you and asked which restaurant was the best or if there was something you missed. It makes a response more likely.

      As to child-friendly, I think the assumption is that most Asian restaurants are child-friendly. It seems that you unfortunately chose one of the few that was not.

      1. re: rworange

        I was aware that Nanking was not Thai, it was just convenient.
        I tried to search chowhound, and did not find what I wanted. There were Thai suggestions, but I don't know San Fran at all and so did not know how to find one in the area I was staying, and did not find anything about child friendly Thai. Also, it takes a lot of time to do this and with a toddler at home time is something I don't have a lot of.
        There are often tourist requests on the Midwest board and we either answer them or direct them to a thread that would help. It is surprisingly difficult to search for restaurants in a town with which you are not familiar given all the variables. Try to put yourself in my shoes.
        I never assume that any kind of restaurant is child friendly, we were just desperate.

        1. re: AliceS

          The "Hilton Financial District" is in Chinatown and close to North Beach. No good Thai in the area so far as I know. Good Chinese, Italian, Persian, Afghan (if Helmand has reopened).

          Lunch or dinner? You should really do dim sum if lunch.

          Osha in Embarcadero Center (across the street from Ferry Plaza) is an upscale Thai place with better than average food and free parking wtih validation on the weekends. I haven't been there early enough to see kids, but it seems very tourist-friendly. You could give them a call to ask about high chairs.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339382
          http://www.oshathai.com/4/

          1. re: AliceS

            Well, finally some responses ... too late though, eh? Sometimes posts just slip through the cracks. Even when search was usable, it is true that it takes time and not all that easy. When I moved out of the area and came back I was surprised how hard it was to get up to speed again.

            That being said, it was just a suggestion for getting a response if no one seems to notice your query. Even bumping you unanswered post with ... "Anyone? I did a search and nothing seems appealing"

            Thai isn't my thing, and while I keep meaning to get there, I haven't been to Citizen Thai and the Monkey in North Beach. Outt on 3rd near the Moscone is Cha-Am which I have tried and liked. Again, too late for this visit.

      2. I too am kind of curious why there's no responses. My personal take is there's really not too many "good" Thai restaurants out there, probably even more less so that "good" Chinese spots. Most places will have the same sauce/taste for all their dishes. Some dishes are overly sweet and I have noticed some people skimp on using certain herbs (i.e., Kafir lime, galanga ginger, lemon grass, etc.)

        There's alot of hole in the wall places that does certain dishes really well, and they come and go, or might be located in a rougher neighborhood, or out of SF. Then you have the fast food noodle joint type places that serves...well, fast food like quality stuff.

        I don't go out and search for thai restaurants, but I have enjoyed Little Thai, on Polk and Broadway. You can go to www.yelp.com and search for more reviews. Reviews here on Chowhound are scattered all over the place sometimes in various posts.

        Maybe you can also mention a few dishes you really like, and some people can suggest where to go.

        1. Thai House Express on Larkin is by far the best Thai food in town but I have no idea if they're kid friendly, I've never been there that early.

          If it's lunch, you could go to Wat Mongkolratanaram, the Thai temple in Berkeley, it's 2-3 blocks from the Ashby BART subway station or about a 15-20 minute drive if there's no traffic. Lots of families there. Things that are made to order (papaya salad, fried chicken, coconut-chive rice cakes) are first-rate, some of the other stuff's sort of average steam table.

          1. I'm sorry I didn't see this, I might have suggested King of Thai Noodle in the Milano Hotel on 5th St. It's a large spacious pleasant space taken over from a series of previous upscale restaurants. It's very uncrowded every time I've been. However, the food is solid thai oriented towards the noodles/noodle soup/one dish meals that King of Thai Noodles is known for. Not that you'd have known.

            I like here: pad kee mao- agressively flavored and usually with good wok-breath. Boat noodle is decent though a little mild in seasoning for my taste. Papaya salad is good; not too much dried shrimp for me, which is sometimes a problem. This weekend I had an appetizer that consisted of seasoned ground pork wrapped in tofu skin and deep-fried, almost exactly like the Taiwanese dish called "ji tiao" or chicken roll. Very good. I can't remember what they called it. Cash only.

            I have been to Sripaphai a number of times and always enjoyed it- there are few exact equivalents around here though if you crave a certain dish you can usually find a good example. Thai House Express is probably the closest analog around here that I know of, though whenever I drive around the city these days I see Thai Noodle Houses on practically every block.

            8 Replies
            1. re: twocents

              that King of Thai Noodle House is decent, based on my one lunch there, but Thai House Express is far superior; I agree with Robert that it is the best in town (at least of places that I've tried). I like Cha Am better than King of Thai Noodle. All three are family friendly, IMO. I've seen plenty of small kids in Thai House Express (the neighborhood isn't necessarily family friendly, however). I've never waited for a table at any of those three (but as I said, only one meal at King of Thai).

              For the OP: I suspect the lack of response to your request has more to do with the fact that there really is a dearth of good Thai food in the bay area, than it does with posting fatigue or even rudeness. I've never been to Sripaphai, but knowing its reputation, my first thought upon reading your post was: 'forget it; SF is not the place to meet that standard.'

              1. re: susancinsf

                I am surprised that SF does not have good or great Thai, I had just assumed it would.
                I had actually posted a "bump" saying something like "no responses anyone?" and it got deleted.

                1. re: AliceS

                  Thai House Express on Larkin is great. Raises the bar for everybody else, though, and nobody's stepped up yet.

                2. re: susancinsf

                  I've had better Thai food in MN than I have in SF -- had I seen your post I would have told you earlier. The food here tends to a dependance on the sweet flavors. For the record, Cha Am SF and Koh Samui & the Monkey are some of the worst offenders IMO.

                  I agree with badbatzmaru that there are places that do a few dishes well but it's hard to find a great overall Thai restuarant. That said, Thai House Express comes up all the time for a reason, it's the best we've got -- and it is really good. Although the neighborhood might not be considered family friendly by all, they do have highchairs and I would bring my toddler there (although I haven't to date. She loves Turtle Tower too much -- and they are super family friendly for anyone who's wondered).

                  What ever happened to that Thai place above Subway that turned into a Karaoke bar later at night? We had a few really good meals there when it first opened.

                  1. re: bernalgirl

                    While I agree that Cha Am can be overly sweet, as can most Thai places in this town, you can have a good meal there if you order carefully. In my experience the grilled seafood dishes have been the best choices.

                    1. re: bernalgirl

                      In response to Bernalgirl:

                      Yes! That was on Larkin near Ellis, that spot has been the kiss of death for many places. Now, I believe they serve Middle Eastern/Turkey/Mediterranean stuff? I used to work near the Civic Center in 2005, and ownership constantly changed hands.

                      My ex Thai gf used to bring me there, and yes at night it turned into a bar/karaoke place and even sometimes there was dancing! It used to be staffed with some young Thai ladies, and had a "Thai" vibe/feel to it, the way it was decorated, the staff who worked there, and the small portioned but flavorful dishes.

                      1. re: badbatzmaru

                        Yeah, it felt like a locals spot in BKK. Sorry it didn't work out for them, it was a neat space and we enjoyed the food. Ah well, at least there's still Thai House Express.

                        And while we're at it, their location in the Castro is not as good, but it's worth noting that you can have quite a good meal there by sticking with the specialty items and letting them know you like their other location. It's the pedestrian stuff that comes out, well, pedestrian. But not as unbalanced as most SF Thai food.

                        1. re: badbatzmaru

                          Ozone is/was on Polk @ Sutter above Subway. Maybe you mean a different place?

                  2. I really like Citizen Thai in Northbeach. They have a big place that is beautifully decorated and very tasty food. Of course, nothing we get here is the quality stuff you can actually get in Thailand...... but there are places that come close. Also, Lemongrass on Polk and Union.