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The Thai Boom Mystery

Armed with many positive reviews from fellow Chowhounders, I had my first Thai Boom meal about 2 months ago. I've gone back 6 times since then; partly out of curiousity, partly out of a need to establish a regular thai takeout source with reasonable pricings and mostly because I'm a masochist.

Thanks to several takeouts with a number of friends (some of whom have since groan when I utter the words "thai boom"), I've sampled almost all of their chef and lunch specials, larb, green mango salad, crab in a pot, papaya salad, pad thai, pad see ew, whole pompano, curries, fried banana, sausage, satays, different fried rice and various veggie dishes.

Am I getting the wrong stuff?? Any can't-miss dish I haven't sampled? Are there 2 chefs and I'm always getting the mediocre one? They're not terrible, decent even, but I really can't say they merit the accolades given here. The staff is always consistently efficient. Portions aren't exactly large like some people have expressed, they're not stingy but definitely not overly generous. So who's pulling my legs?

Granted, it's not like I can say there's another westside thai that's clearly superior, it's just that I expected better.

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  1. There have been reports of a drop off in quality shortly after the increase in price. Don't know if the two events are related.

    1. I've been there twice and for the life of me can't understand why it's so hyped on here. It's fine, but also tastes like every other neighborhood Thai place I've ever been to.

      1. As Sauce mentions, prices have gone up and quality seems to have gone south. Our first trip there was back in January/February which was quite good. Our second time was about a month ago. Maybe it was an off night or... we didn't think much about it...

        I think as mentioned numerous times regarding alot of other Chow recs, hype kills your expectations... Don't beat a dead horse and expect it to get up and gallop - move on and seek more fertile ground! But I do admire your perserverance - not many would give a place so many chances...

        1 Reply
        1. re: bulavinaka

          Yes, I felt a little silly going back there time and again. For the moment, unless I'm going alone, I don't think I can further persuade friends to join me.

          As for the hype, I did try to be fair and honestly, it's really just decent - there must've been a change in management and/or chef.

          I'm somewhat relieved that I've made peace with it :)

        2. I've noticed a little more variance in quality (from ok to great) the past 3 months than usual, but still "good enough" at worst. I'll post when I try it again-- I wonder if they got a new chef, or they have been more rushed when the business picked up more? Curious to see. Maybe some dishes were always better.

          5 Replies
          1. re: longtimehere

            the question is, what are those dishes?

            1. re: Beignets

              As complex as Thai cuisine can be, I would attribute it to a change in the kitchen, but who knows...

              1. re: Beignets

                I've always liked the Prik King best- nice complexity, heat, and balance. Pla Prik Pao well enough. Also, the chili sauce fried fish dishes, which tend to be fine at a lot of places. Never tried any coconut milk or noodle or peanut sauce dishes. Pretty good larbs.

                1. re: longtimehere

                  we mus have similar tastes
                  my favorites are:
                  prik king (made with tofu)
                  pla prik pao (made with tofu)
                  mango salad
                  papaya salad

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Yes I've noticed that from a lot of your postings-- make me wonder if there is some genetic wiring?

            2. For me, your last sentence rings most true. It's basically the best there is close by, with nice and efficient staff and delivery, and good value. To me, those all add up to a winner. It see this as my neighborhood Thai, not exactly a destination if you're not in the neighborhood. And I can't think of any westside spots that are better.

              I do also like the cashew nut chicken with green chiles added, either when its made or with the chiles in vinegar afterward. FWIW.

              1 Reply
              1. re: CulverJack

                AND they are very flexible about dealing with special requests and vegetarians, and they remember you when you come in and remember what you normally order and how you like it prepared.

              2. I am one 'guilty' of repeatedly pointing to Thai Boom as one of the better, if not the best, Thai on the Westside (as much as a statement like that is worth--standards are pretty low 'round here). But I also admit that the staff now knows us, knows that we speak Thai (one fluently and one stumblingly) and that we ask for off menu items a lot. So, maybe we get better food? I actually doubt that is true...

                Thai Boom is solid food, but like many Thai places in the US, they rely far too much on sugar. And I will also say that noodles are a weak spot at Thai Boom. In the say 20 times I have eaten food from Thai Boom in the last few months, I have never managed to get a decent noodle-based dish.

                But, if it helps, on a fairly regular basis I get:
                -curry with fishballs (Penang recently, also gaeng keo wan (the sweet green curry), the mussaman curry and a yellow curry)
                -cashews stiry fry, usually with fried tofu
                -fish rice soup - this one is just Thai comfort food; think chicken soup when you are sick
                -salmon stuffed with crab in curry; this used to be special and is now on the menu - an extremely rich and heavy dish
                -shrimp dumplings stir fried with cashews
                -yellow curry fried rice with crab (not on the menu; just something I miss from Thailand that they are nice enough to make for me)

                So, maybe not up to the standards of the NoHo places, but for neighborhood Thai between the beach and Overland Avenue , it is the best I have found.

                5 Replies
                1. re: igj

                  i love the place too, but not exclusively.
                  i also like ayara thai which is a little more upscale.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I, too, like Ayara...just don't get down there much and they don't deliver to my house :)

                    But, as a question, what are the specialties at Ayara that you like that you don't get at Thai Boom? Or is it just a question of variety/atmosphere?

                    1. re: igj

                      I agree with whoever said Thai Boom could be a little sweet....but still like it and Ayara-- in my head Thai Boom is more bold/hearty, Ayara more complex or subtle, but they are equal to me (though like the surprising elegance of the interior of Ayara).

                      1. re: igj

                        at ayara i rotate among the items offered in the section of their menu entitled 'FROM THE WOK'
                        i especially like their prik king and their spring rolls.
                        in my opinion their spring rolls, though delicious are misnamed.
                        at any rate, here is the description of the rolls:
                        <<Spring Rolls Shrimp, green leaf lettuce, carrots, rice noodles, and sweet basil leaves delicately wrapped in rice paper. Served cold with peanut sauce and sweet n' spicy sauce.>>
                        my dining partners really like their soups.

                        1. re: igj

                          Having tried both Thai Boom and Ayara, because of my love for noodle dishes, I prefer Ayara for their Drunken Noodles and Pad Thai

                    2. i totally agree. i went there with my husband a month or two ago, cause i'd heard it was great...plus, i wanted to try something new. i, too, thought i'd ordered the wrong items...?! it was fine, but nothing i'd go back for.

                      one place i am always recommending on this site is siamese garden in the marina (not far from thai boom, on washington near the boardwalk). it's easy to miss, right next to the behemoth otherwise known as baja cantina. their food is outstanding--service is lovely, and the atmosphere is cozy and laid back. i highly recommend it.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hippodeir

                        what's the parking situation at siamese garden?
                        that lot always looks like it's overflowing.
                        i'm averse to driving around for 20 minutes to find a parking spot.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          hmm...i usually walk there from where i live, but i know, it's a bit of a scene since it's near the beach. i think if you park farther down on washington (head away from the beach), you can find decent street parking. i know that the mexican restaurant next door has valet, if you prefer.

                          but it's definitely worth the try--i promise!