Sirayvah-San Carlos (long)
I just came back from a lunch at this fabulous Thai restaurant. It is a place where you can feel that they try to cook from the heart and there is a pride in how they've decorated the interior. This was a Christmas luncheon organized by a non-hound type person so I had no expectations that this would be a food find. This restaurant is next to Crayola, the Louisiana food place in San Carlos. It appears totally unassuming but once inside, the restaurant is immaculate and has a zen/calm feeling to the ambiance.
Crispy Calamari (it is a tradition for this group)
Medium textured crumb batter enveloped delicately cut calamari (no tentacles). This dish was served w/ a sweet & sour light Thai sauce. Good. (B)
Lam Yang: grilled lemongrass marinated rack of lamb served w/ a portabella mushroom steak
There were three ribs over wonderfully grilled portabella mushrooms, which were sliced. The marinate was delicious and the tender ribs were cooked medium. I regretted I had to share! (A)
Panang Salmon: Pan seared Alaskan Wild King Salmon, asparagus, red coconut milk curry sauce
This dish was also fabulous in that the salmon was very flavorful and was cooked a tad under well done. So it was extremely moist and the delicious curry had a lot of depth w/o being too coconutty or salty. (A)
Pad Thai: Pan-fried rice noodle w/ jumbo wild prawns, green onions, ground peanuts, eggs and bean sprouts
This was a standard dish but it was not greasy like many sauté noodles can be. The rice noodles were cooked a tad too al dente than Id like but then we didnt have to deal with a gooey overcooked dish either. The wild prawns were very fresh tasting. (B)
Thai Pancake w/ Coconut ice cream
We asked our server for recommendations for dessert and we chose this over sweet rice w/ mango and fried banana because we were stuffed. This was a great choice. Basically, the Thai pancake is a thin chewy dough disk, cut pizza style and drizzled w/syrup. A scoop of coconut ice cream was served on top. The pancake was freshly made and I think it might have been deep fried. The coconut ice cream tasted store bought but still great w/ the pancake. (A)
All entrees for lunch comes with a tumbler of organic mixed grain rice and soup or salad. All three of us had the Kobacha Squash soup w/ coconut milk, which was thick and tasty.
I am not great with many adjectives to describe the dishes. Overall, I had such an enjoyable lunch that I had to share with you. Sirayvah may not be absolutely authentic in it's interpretation of all Thai dishes but it is the best Thai restaurant I've been to. I rarely crave Thai food but I will definitely come back to Sirayvah (the name of the owners daughter, we were told). The next time, we will order the Tamarind Prawns and the Meang Kum salad, which we saw other people having. They looked really good.
Oh, also order the tea service ($2). I ordered the white tea and it was served in this beautiful Thai tea set. Finally, they strive to be health concious so there are no farmed fish or shrimp here and the rice is whole grained. They can also substitute tofu and use veg broth for any dish and make it vegetarian.
On the basis on one visit a few months ago, I'd certainly agree with all the previous posts: the food is very carefully prepared, the ingredients are first-rate (especially the seafood), and the place makes for a very pleasant dining experience. It's a very good place to go when you don't feel like you need an authentic-as-possible dining experience. It would be a terrific choice for people who don't want very spicy food, but still want a feel for the cuisine. My chief problem (one that made me realize how deep my Asian roots run) was the rice! It's this peculiar organic blend of at least 3 different grains, cooked so as to result in a rather gummy mass. It tasted healthy, but it was a bit too much out of the box for my taste. Maybe I'll like it better if I give it another shot.
Give them another try, Pia. I like my long grain jasmin better than anything (phoeix brand) but this rice was very tasty with the sauces, especially the curry. Definitely not mainstream but they're trying to be health concious...I felt less guilty eating dessert because I had "healthy" rice! LOL
I tried Sirayvah last night for dinner. I was a bit surprised by the prices, but there is a price premium for wild vs. farmed salmon -- and presumably for the unusually nice ambience. I went a bit early around 7:15 and by 8:00, all the small tables (and most of the larger ones) were filled.
The Meang Kum appetizer ($9) is a variation on a Thai/Lao miang, featuring a variety of flavorful ingredients served on a leaf, in this case a palm-sized piece of butter lettuce. It helps adapt the dish to Western service to have the leaves pre-filled for easy pick-up, but you lose a little something in not being able to compose your own selection. There also were no pieces of (tough) lemongrass or (blistering) Thai chillies; instead, the preparation was vaguely sweet, as though the toasted coconut would have been equally at home sprinkled on a cake. The grilled shrimp looked like a big one that had been cut into one small piece for each leaf. Overall, these would be fun bites to share, but as an individual's appetizer, the balance is too much toward sweetness without enough zing.
For the main I tried the panang curry salmon ($18), vounteering "hot" for the heat level of the sauce (my server didn't ask). Sirayvah serves individual dinner plates rather than family style, and the salmon was prettily arranged over several stalks of asparagus, accompanied by a round of "house blend" rice (seemingly shaped in a large ramekin). The thickest part of the fish could have used a bit more cooking, but since the portion was fairly generous, I simply took that part home. Panang curry is one of the heavier Thai curries, as it is made with ground peanuts. Sirayvah's sauce struck a good balance between richness, sweetness, and heat. The rice is much more absorbent than Jasmine rice, so a little more sauce would have been welcome.
I didn't have room for dessert. The oolong tea was good, and I was offered additional hot water without having to ask or tip the lid on the pot. Service was just about perfect.
Based on my visit, I would describe Sirayvah as follows: An attractive and comfortable restaurant combining an excellent service experience with thoughtfully selected ingredients and highly accessible Thai-based flavors in familiar Western-style presentations. If only the entrees started at $9 rather than $14, or if I lived in San Carlos, I'd try a lot more of the menu...
I'm glad that Sirayvah is still on the radar. Thanks for the feedback. I haven't been back for awhile since I agree that the price point is a bit high for dinner. The several times we went to dinner, we ended up spending about $40 per person before tips and at that price, we have many choices to choose from. That being said, I still appreciate their effort to stay as organic as possible and the dining experience is always relaxed and enjoyable. I've always thought that lunch is a better value (comes with salad or soup)and way under $20. Nope, this place definitely is not adventurous nor is it authentic....No WOW factor!! I still love going there when the mood strikes.