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Thai Food in Palo Alto???

c
cmon Jul 9, 2007 08:12 PM

What's your favorite Thai food restaurant in Palo Alto?? Thanks!

  1. wchane Jul 9, 2007 09:22 PM

    the only one that comes to mind is the small thai restaurant on lytton, across from the 7-11. i believe it's called bangkok cuisine or some really generic name.

    1. c
      cflower Jul 11, 2007 01:09 PM

      I don't think there's any fantastic Thai food in Palo Alto. I do go to Indochine on Middlefield because it is close to my house, inexpensive, and decent.

      1. t
        tomritza Jul 12, 2007 07:49 AM

        I have not been there in a long time, but Thai City on El Camino near Page Mill was decent.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tomritza
          p
          P. Punko Jul 14, 2007 12:02 AM

          We had a very subpar meal at an empty Thai City once. We haven't been back- it was a bummer.

        2. eatzalot Jul 12, 2007 08:35 AM

          Certain connoisseurs from Thailand (with high standards, it's true) maintain there are no Thai restaurants in this region worth attention.

          The next-best authority I know, an American who lived in Thailand, favors a small restaurant that may be little known because of unlikely, inauspicious location (attached to a bowling alley on El Camino in southern PA). The people there actually are Thai, my source claimed -- not true of many Thai restaurants in the county -- and they don't cut corners: Lime juice where they should use lime juice, not substituting lemon. More comments below. Several lunches there have been very good indeed.

          Thai Garden (650) 949-5259 -- 4329 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306. Lunch and dinner.

          "I believe it is under-respected because of the diner-like ambience and the lack of sophistication of most casual droppers-by. I've found it to serve some of the best Thai food in the area, though not quite as good as a now-closed place in Santa Clara that also was attached to a bowling alley and whose chef was a perfectionistic Thai woman well on in years. I believe its former owners are related to those running Thai Garden.

          "If you do eat there I recommend specifying you don't want the spices purposely numbed-down, because of good bit of the flavor goes with it. Also, if they still have good ripe mangoes available, please try the sticky rice with mango dessert even if you don't go for a full meal."

          2 Replies
          1. re: eatzalot
            t
            tomritza Jul 12, 2007 10:01 PM

            Either the owner or the chef moved from Thai Garden to Thai City. I knew the chef at Thai Garden and followed him to Thai City. But, as I say, it has been a looooooong time since I have been to either.

            1. re: eatzalot
              p
              P. Punko Jul 14, 2007 12:03 AM

              We call this place "Bowling Thai"- had an odd very saucy version of Yum neua there, but it was spicy.

            2. bbulkow Jul 12, 2007 09:23 AM

              My background: I've taken a few trips to thailand, eaten there. I love the spice. I've lived in Berkeley for a long time, what Cha'am was good. I probably eat Thai every other week. Favored dishes are Green Curry, Thai Basil Chicken. GF loves Cashew Chicken. My personal thai food fantasy is that I could find those Chang Mai sausage coils somewhere local. Thai food isn't about the searing heat, but about the spice richness and balance *behind* the searing heat - some dishes, anyway.

              Here's my rundown:
              Bangkok Cuisine - Lytton - Owned by the same folks as own Amarin in MV, and serviceable. I prefer Amarin, but both seem to have suffered from a lack of spice over the last few months, so I've stopped going. When I got some to-go on Monday, I looked the owner in the eye and said "spicy!" when he mumbled that I must want Medium. He looked at me again, questioningly, and I repeated, "SPICY!" and he made a note. The food was up to previous snuff on that particular dish - but you worry about places like this, because their curries and soups will be tuned to a particular spice level, and you can't just shake pepper on.

              Thai Garden / Thai City - El Camino, as mentioned by other posters - I've been a few times, but frankly don't remember it as being more memorable than Bangkok Cuisine. I probably need to give each another try. I live on the Menlo Park side of PA, so they're not exactly local.

              Siam Royal - University - Very serviceable, even tasty on a good day. The food's never underspiced, but never is a huge wow. Just had a remodel and looks great inside - def. in high rotation.

              Krung Siam - University - yuck.
              Thaiphoon - Emerson - very nice atmosphere, interesting menu, bland food. Too bad, after three tries, won't be back.
              Siam Garden - Crane St, Menlo Park - Atmosphere is so depressing I'll never be back. Food wasn't bad, though.

              Nearby Palo Alto:

              Thai Time, El Camino, San Carlos - I used to work in San Carlos, and it's still on the way home from my current gig. I picked up takeout from there two weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised. Still solid, and while waiting for my takeout, I found they had a happening little bar. Who knew?

              Woodside Thai Spot - This is one strange little place, but I love it. One strange frenzied waiter/owner, uneven service, laminated menu, dim lighting, ex-coffee-shop interior, but the guy looks at you and said "we make it SPICY here", and they do. I think he directs you to certain bland menu items if you show fear - but I wouldn't know. Very tasty. When I stir myself to travel farther than a few miles, it's to Woodside Thai Spot. (Last time I was there, a large black van with gvt plates disgorged 10 young 18-year-old men with crew cuts, large necks, and the easygoing calmness that projects their own confidence in crushing and/or strangling anything nearby that needs crushing and/or strangling. They seemed to like the food, too.)

              Amerin, MV - sets the standard for Thai in the south peninsula. May be slipping - I certainly hope not.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bbulkow
                l
                LPCagain Jul 12, 2007 10:57 AM

                Just ate recently at Siam Royal. Hadn't eaten there in ages. Was quite surprised at how much fresher and less standard the food tasted. Some of the better Thai food I've had on the peninsula. I too still dream of the food I ate while in Bangkok....

                1. re: bbulkow
                  eatzalot Jul 12, 2007 01:40 PM

                  Add my recommendation to Amarin (100 block Castro Street, downtown Mountain View, right off Central/Alma and the train station). Near Palo Alto. Extremely popular among the 90 or so restaurants in that little downtown. I go to Amarin a few times a year, it's still going strong IMO.

                  Lots of creative, exuberant dishes not seen on genre Thai restaurants of the region.

                  1. re: bbulkow
                    p
                    P. Punko Jul 14, 2007 12:11 AM

                    We had a disappointing meal at Woodside Thai Spot- what was odd was that the Tom Yum soup smelled totally disgusting, but tasted pretty good. I think I had the Tom Yum Ga (chicken) soup, but that the chicken pieces were quite random and tendony/jointy. Maybe they had nicely flavored the soup but it didn't seem so appetizing. We were hoping this hole-in-the-wall would be our little Thai House Express, but it wasn't. I think we'll have to revisit.

                    We've had an OK meal at Siam Royal on University. One OK meal at Krung Siam on University. And next door to Amarin there is King of Krung Thai in Moutain View. Only went once but one of the curries was amazing that night.

                    None of these places has much beyond the generic Thai restaurant menu, though, so nothing that gets you exited. I wish there was a cheap Thai take-out place for pad kee mao, but it is the Penisula so nothing is really that cheap.

                  2. k
                    khuntone Mar 13, 2011 08:02 PM

                    Since the original post there is a new Thai restaurant in Palo Alto called Siam Orchid. It is located at corner of Hamilton and Cowper near CA Pizza Kitchen. I think it is worth the try. They do organic Thai food.

                    -----
                    Siam Orchid
                    23 Orinda Way Ste F, Orinda, CA 94563

                     
                    4 Replies
                    1. re: khuntone
                      l
                      LAMark Mar 13, 2011 09:31 PM

                      This tip may be a little dated, since I haven't lived there for a while, but I think the class of the (so-so) peninsula Thai restaurant scene is Krung Thai. There's one in Mountain View right by Trader Joe's.

                      -----
                      Krung Thai Restaurant
                      640 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                      1. re: khuntone
                        bbulkow Mar 13, 2011 10:31 PM

                        Welcome, first time poster!
                        I tried Siam Orchid in their first week, and agree that it's pretty good. It has a nice room, unlike the faded Bangkok Cuisine. The prices are a bit higher, but the food's a little fresher. I still get my takeout from Bangkok Cuisine, though, because it's that much closer to my house.
                        What's your second favorite place in Palo Alto for Thai?

                        -----
                        Bangkok Cuisine
                        407 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                        Siam Orchid
                        496 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                        1. re: bbulkow
                          m
                          mdg Mar 13, 2011 11:15 PM

                          Siam Orchid is on our list to try soon. First I'm going to try to add a link to the right location in Palo Alto, not Orinda!

                          bbulkow, are you thinking of Siam Royal vs. Siam Orchid? Siam Orchid is a lot more expensive than most other Thai places in the Bay Area, not just a bit higher.

                          Michael

                          -----
                          Siam Orchid
                          496 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                          1. re: mdg
                            bbulkow Mar 15, 2011 07:49 PM

                            Not confused - Siam Orchid on Hamilton, right on the corner, big glass windows. Tastes are cleaner, upscale room, prices are higher. I don't love the bang-per-buck, so haven't been more than a few times. Enjoyed the food, though.

                            -----
                            Siam Orchid
                            496 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                      2. k
                        khuntone Mar 14, 2011 09:28 AM

                        Siam Orchid price is higher than Siam Royal or other restaurants in Palo Alto maybe due to the organic ingredient cost. However, there are other Thai restaurant in the bay that is in the same price range but do not use organic. Have anyone tried Ocha in San Francisco? They have several location in the city.

                        -----
                        Siam Orchid
                        496 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: khuntone
                          j
                          Jason Kwong Mar 14, 2011 11:43 AM

                          It's not quite fair to compare pricing between Osha and Siam Orchid primarily because the expenses are much higher at Osha. Osha is in SF, so minimum wage is already $2.50 more than Palo Alto. Don't forget the San Francisco Health Care Ordinance.

                          The husband and wife team at Siam Orchid use organic ingredients in almost everything they serve. They also have cooking and operational experience from several well-known Thai restaurants in the city.

                          -----
                          Siam Orchid
                          496 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                          1. re: Jason Kwong
                            m
                            mdg Mar 14, 2011 11:05 PM

                            Have you been there yet? Any particular favorite dishes? Thanks!

                            Michael

                            1. re: mdg
                              j
                              Jason Kwong Mar 15, 2011 09:27 PM

                              *Full disclosure, they are a client, so I can't really leave my opinion*

                              I have been there for lunch, and I've had the panang curry with beef. That's my standby in judging a place, like carnitas for mexican restaurants...

                        2. eatzalot Mar 27, 2011 11:09 AM

                          What many people (including P. Punko upthread) nicknamed the "Bowling" or "Bowling Alley" Thai restaurant (Thai Garden, 4329 El Camino) -- in front of Palo Alto Bowl, whose tall sign is a handy landmark -- a consistently good, moderately-priced family-run restaurant with fresh interesting seasonings in many pleasurable lunches there -- was replaced a few months back by Pattaya Thai Restaurant, the new "Bowling Thai".

                          Revelation! For a lunch last month, a friend and I approached with muted expectations because we were so fond of the old restaurant on the site. Wonder of Wonders: It was better. We both had one of the best local Thai lunches either could remember. My friend's mixed seafood with mango (possibly a daily lunch special?) was alive with fresh contrasting flavors. I ordered the "Kwoey Tieo" Pad Khee Mao from the dinner menu. Pad Khee Mao is the very spicy stir-fry of wide rice noodles with tomatoes, herbs, and meat (a personal favorite noodle dish since I first had a good one at Berkeley's Plearn in 1981). That dish too is about contrasts: delicate scents, fiery chili, aromatic fresh basil, and the improbable but harmonious tomatoes. Probably the best serving of that dish I've ever tasted. Outstanding. When a beloved restaurant is replaced, and the replacement when tried is even better, it's a Phenomenon and worth spreading word about.

                          We also like Krung Thai (near Trader Joe's in San Antonio plaza, at the Palo Alto - MV - Los Altos "triple subduction" border, which LAMark helpfully mentioned already), from repeated lunches. Though not as much as either the old Bowling Thai (from MANY lunches) or the new Bowling Thai (Pattaya), based on just one lunch. So far.

                          -----
                          Thai Garden Restaurant
                          4329 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                          Plearn Thai Restaurant
                          1923 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                          Pattaya Thai Restaurant
                          4329 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: eatzalot
                            m
                            mdg Mar 27, 2011 11:43 AM

                            Pattaya served us distinctly un-fresh crab at our one dinner there, and the flavors overall were muted. Perhaps lunch is better...

                            1. re: mdg
                              eatzalot Mar 27, 2011 02:56 PM

                              Or our lunch might have been atypical, or your dinner. Because all restaurants have some variability of execution, and variable competence across the recipes on a long menu, we diners can't presume to "know" a place's typical performance without some visits and menu exploration. (It's why good US restaurant journalists have visited 3-5 times before commenting, and why some single-visit reports do readers a disservice with impressions that are superficial -- that needs a name: Yelp Syndrome? -- and why it's wrong to go to a new restaurant and order your favorite dish -- as I did above :-) -- instead of seeking out the _kitchen's_ best dishes, which may show its real strength.)

                              Let's report further after more experience with the new "Bowling" Thai. (I often return, more than once, even to restaurants that made a poor first impression, if I have any reason to think there may be merits to find there.)

                              1. re: eatzalot
                                j
                                jsaimd Jan 17, 2012 02:45 PM

                                Any recent experience here? My son will be baptized in February and his celebration dinner request is Thai. Funny thing is that we don't eat much Thai, although I love it. Last time we were at Krung Thai it was abysmal - bland, overcooked, yuk. Maybe an off day, but bad enough we never tried again. Looking for a Saturday night dinner for 8 people.

                                1. re: jsaimd
                                  m
                                  mdg Jan 18, 2012 11:49 PM

                                  Does it have to be down here? Can you do it in San Francisco at Lers Ros? The difference in quality is significant. My favorite in the South Bay is Thai Spoons, but I haven't tried the organic Thai place in downtown Palo Alto.

                                  Michael

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