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Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland) Thai House Express chef alert

DezzerSF Jul 2, 2008 02:10 PM

I was on my way to Pho King when the grand opening banner across the street caught my eye. This new Thai place just opened on Monday 6/30/08. There's about 10 four tops nicely spaced in the simply decorated room. They also have a flat screen TV on the wall.

When I received the menu, I recognized the familiar layout and font, and finally realized, it's the Thai House Express menu. Apparently, the chef from 'THE' on Geary & Larkin in SF had a falling out, so he's the head chef here now. He also brought his sous chef with him.

Anyway, I ended up ordering 2 things I've never tried at Thai House Express. Yum Pla Dook Foo (catfish salad) & Larb w/pork. The former was more of an airy batter with catfish bits mixed in, served over a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with cashews and red bell pepper. This was served with a delicious sauce, which was a mixture of fish sauce, lime, sugar, red onions, and cilantro.

The larb was pretty standard, but made with pork. I liked the fragrance of the toasted rice powder, and the salty/sour flavors went excellent with sticky rice. It was garnished with 3 sliced cucumbers and 2 slices of cabbage, served over a lettuce leaf.

The server said their hours will be from 10am - 8 or 9pm so I'd call ahead if you're having a late dinner (510) 832-2500. Thai House Express fans living in the East Bay will have to cross the Bay Bridge no longer.

BTW, they will indeed have the famed Pork leg stew noodle soup.

-----
Chai Thai Noodles
545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

  1. Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 08:15 AM

    Last night they were out of pork leg stew and grilled pork neck.

    Fresh rolls with avocado from the specials menu were excellent, basically salad in a roll.

    Gui chai / crispy vegetarian chive cakes were tasty, maybe not as good as at Thai House Express.

    Kao pad nam prig / Thai style fried rice with shrimp paste was tasty though not spicy or fishy even though I ordered it spicy and asked for plenty of shrimp paste.

    Pad ma kuer / sauteed eggplant was good, great creamy texture, spicy as ordered (lots of fresh green Thai peppers).

    Pad Thai, meh, bland and greasy.

    OK meal but disappointing.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      twocents Jun 25, 2013 10:19 AM

      Is there an easy way to check change of ownership? Last time I went it look like completely different waitstaff. I like their Kao Soy Thai (Chiang mai noodle); the soup at least. Noodles poor.

      They were also out of Beerlao.

      1. re: twocents
        Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2013 11:20 AM

        Oh yeah, no Beerlao either. I checked the liquor license and the only change was a few years ago and it was apparently adding a family member.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston
        ...tm... Jun 25, 2013 10:40 AM

        I find Chai Thai Noodles oddly named, as their stir fried noodles, in any form, never fail to disappoint me. I've had good luck with all other dishes though, including the Lao kao soy.

      3. Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 11:12 AM

        Went last night for the first time in a while. Last time I went, over a year ago, they were off their game, said they were training new chefs. Seemed fine last night.

        Squid salad was very good.

        Rice ball salad had great texture but I prefer Champa Garden's more complex seasoning.

        Crab noodles were good and had a generous portion of crab. Did not come spicy even though there was a warning on the menu and ordered spicy.

        Pork leg stew good as always.

        Did they ever make the funky bamboo shoot dish from Thai House Express?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Mission Dec 29, 2012 10:01 PM

          Chai Thai Noodles was victim of a takeover robbery last Thursday night.

          http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking...

        2. Melanie Wong Jul 10, 2012 09:09 PM

          Last week I had a chance to grab a solo lunch at Chai Thai Noodles, my first visit. I had the recs for the kao soy chiang mai in mind, but at the last moment decided to order kao soy lao-style with beef, $8.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          Certainly enjoyable, but can't compare to Green Champa Garden's version. The soup here is not as intense and deep and the texture and flavor of the ground pork did not have near the care and attention. I liked the wide rice noodles and fresh-tasting slices of beef. But I probably wouldn't order this dish here again.

          I got an order of mango and sticky rice to go to enjoy later. While the glutinous rice had seized up and grown firmer than ideal, the richness of coconut milk and touch of salt gave it excellent flavor. And the mango was as ripe and as good as we'll find around here.

          1. Maple Aug 10, 2009 04:56 PM

            We finally made it to Chai Thai a couple of weekends ago, and I thought that this was another gem that I would not have known without Chowhound!

            We had the pork leg stew noodles (flat wide rice noodles), the crab noodles, and the barbecued pork neck appetizer. The crab noodles were the weakest of the three to me - a bit orange-y and not particularly interesting. The pork leg noodles were wonderful - the broth is very aromatic and the pickled veggie adds great complexity. But the best of the night was the pork neck dish - the pork pieces had a wonderful texture - not sure how else to describe it but to say that the pieces were tender yet with a good bite - excellent. Thanks everyone for the rec!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Maple
              nicedragonboy Aug 29, 2009 10:52 PM

              I just went there for the first time this week. Amazing that it's just 2 blocks from my house! I totally agree with the roasted pork neck, excellent dish. I was surprised at the firmness of the meat, but it was very tasty especially with the spicy dipping sauce.

              1. re: nicedragonboy
                daveena Jan 5, 2011 10:51 AM

                Just had the barbecued pork neck last night and loved it. It came as an attractive mound of thin, grill-marked slices, fanned out on a finely chopped salad, with a mouthwateringly pungent dipping sauce on the side. It tasted like the best char siu I’ve ever had, but better, and had an alluring snap that I hoped was from connective tissue but fear was actually from fat. I can see why Robert thinks it might be jowl – it had the same texture as guanciale. We ate every single thing on the plate – after we finished the salad, dressed in a fine coat of fat and juice from the meat, we rolled up the decorative lettuce leaf at the bottom and ate that as well.

                1. re: daveena
                  nicedragonboy Jan 5, 2011 12:30 PM

                  ooh, I'm glad they brought it back. the last time I was there they told me they took it off the menu because it was difficult to find a steady supplier.

            2. rworange Aug 9, 2009 06:46 PM

              Some info until places is up again

              1. website is: http://www.chaithainoodle.com/
              2. now serves wine and beer
              3. hours are daily from 11:30 to 10:30

              1. Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2009 07:46 AM

                Went last night. They now have beer and wine. BeerLao $3. They've also continued to improve the decor, adding some art and what not, much nicer atmosphere than when they opened. They gave us some complementary warm shrimp chips with a nice dipping sauce.

                We tried three whiteboard specials: some kind of Laotian soup with wide, thin rice noodles; duck with pineapple and various herbs and vegetables; and fried rice with pork sausage and Chinese broccoli. Also got the eggplant salad from the regular menu, really delicious with minced pork, nicely cooked shrimp, and lots of other vegetables. I'd order them all again. With one beer, the bill for two came to $37.50 with tax, and we had substantial leftovers.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  y
                  yummyrice Aug 29, 2009 05:33 AM

                  >>We tried three whiteboard specials: some kind of Laotian soup with wide, thin rice noodles

                  hmm what did it taste like? I wonder if you had Khao Soi, which is one of the specialties of northern Laos.

                  1. re: yummyrice
                    Robert Lauriston Aug 29, 2009 10:50 AM

                    Looking at the description on Wikipedia, it could be, but I don't remember it well enough to say for sure.

                    1. re: yummyrice
                      s
                      shantihhh Mar 5, 2011 11:33 AM

                      Khao Soi is also common in NE Thailand (Chaing Mai to Mae Hong Song) said to orginate with Shan people in Burma....could be?

                      -----
                      Shan Restaurant
                      5251 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                      1. re: shantihhh
                        y
                        yummyrice Jul 24, 2012 05:05 AM

                        Yes, it is believed that Khao Soi originated in Burma by the Shan people who are genetically related to northern Lao and northern Thai people. From what I've read online, it seems that the dish has roots in China, but it became popular in Laos and Thailand via Burma. The story suggests that Chinese immigrants introduced the concept of rice noodle soup to Burma where the Shan combined it with their local curry and created a coconut curry noodle soup, "Khauk Swe", which I believe means the same thing as "Khao Soi" (sliced rice) in the Lao language. Lao and Shan languages are in the same language family and both groups are genetically related to one another. The story goes on to suggest that Chinese immigrants migrated from Burma to Laos and introduced "khauk swe" (known locally in Laos as "khao soi") to northern Laos and then Lao people migrated to northern Thailand and introduced khao soi to that region. Lan Na (northern Thailand) is a blend of Lao and Burmese cultures. As far as labeling khao soi is concerned, the coconut curry version of khao soi is eaten in both northern Laos and northern Thailand so in my opinion, I don't think we should refer to it as Lao-style or Thai-style, since it originated in Burma. We should just simply refer to it as "khao soi" or more specifically "khao soi coconut milk soup", since there's really no distinction between how it is made in Laos, Thailand, and Burma. However, there is another version of khao soi in northern Laos that does not use curry or coconut milk, which some Westerners have already deemed as Lao-style khao soi to distinguish it from the generic coconut milk version that is eaten in all three countries: Laos, Thailand, and Burma.

                        The Shan of Burma, the Lao of northern Laos and the Lao/Thai of northern Thailand are all related to one another, but are separated by political boundaries. The Shan are ethnic minorities in Burma, so "khauk swe" isn't truly "Burmese" in the cultural sense, but we refer to it as such only because the Shan now live in Burma. The region in which Laos, Thailand, and Burma meet is known as the Golden Triangle. The Shan of Burma, the Lao of northern Laos, and the Thai of northern Thailand have the most in common with one another not just genetically, but linguistically and culturally as well. They have more in common with one another than they do with the others in the rest of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. However, due to politics and the building of a national identity, the ones living in the Shan state of Burma became "Burmese", the ones living in northern Laos are "Lao", and the ones living in northern Thailand are "Thai". So it shouldn't be a surprise that it seems very natural for northern Lao and northern Thai people to eat a Shan dish of Burma just like how the Shan of Burma also eat Lao and Thai dishes.

                        1. re: yummyrice
                          s
                          shantihhh Jul 24, 2012 01:13 PM

                          That totally makes sense. Last time I was in Mae Hong Song I was shocked how many Shan now live there, unfortunately thos that have come in from Burma in say 20 years alegated to certain areas. Some do via education-language and tests imigrate to US, Finland and a few other places. Such a difficult situation for them, and for the Thai government as well. There are many Shan who have lived in the area for generations and are considered Thai. First time we visited Burma was in 1989 via Mae Hong Song on the river boats.Not so smart in retrospect. Chinese did bring noodles to Thailand and the rest of SE Asia for sure.

                          1. re: shantihhh
                            y
                            yummyrice Jul 27, 2012 08:25 PM

                            I actually met a Shan person in the U.S. who was originally from Burma. I was at a Lao party and I didn't realize she was Shan at first so I spoke Lao to her, but she understood what I said. She told me that her people's language and culture are very similar to that of Lao people. So I asked my mom about those people in Burma and she told me that there are some ethnic minority groups in Burma who are related to our Lao people, which explained how I was able to communicate with that Shan person from Burma. Laos, Vietnam, Burma, and Thailand don't have homogenous populations, but are made up of different ethnic groups and they tend to concentrate in different regions of those countries.

                            For example, northern Laos is where the Lao of China live in the cities and the Lao of Khmu, Mien, and Hmong ancestry live in the hills. Lan Na (northern Thailand) consists primarily of Lao and Burmese in the cities with some minority tribes in the hills. Issan Thailand is primarily an offshoot of Lao in the north and Khmer in the south. Central Thailand is primarily where the Chinese and Vietnamese live. Southern Thailand is primarily of Malaysian ancestry. Southern Laos tends to be where Cham, Khmer, and Vietnamese people live. Northern Vietnam tends to have Lao and Chinese. Southern Vietnam tends to have Khmer and Cham people.

                            So to most Westerners, they tend to view Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, and Burmese as four separate groups of people, but in reality those four nationalities are made up of various ethnic groups whose people are scattered across various neighboring countries and live on both sides of the border.

                          2. re: yummyrice
                            y
                            yummyrice Jul 27, 2012 08:44 PM

                            >> "Yes, it is believed that Khao Soi originated from Burma by the Shan people"

                            Oops. I'd like to make a clarification. "Khauk Swe" originated in Burma, but "Khao Soi" originated in northern Laos. However, "Khao Soi" is the Lao adaptation of the Shan "Khauk Swe", so its roots stem from Burma according to the local story. "Khauk Swe" is Shan language and "Khao Soi" is Lao language.

                            1. re: yummyrice
                              Melanie Wong Jul 27, 2012 09:27 PM

                              Just wanted to link up to your earlier thoughts on Khao Soy.
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/447845

                    2. lexdevil May 22, 2009 12:29 AM

                      New dishes on the specials menu are heading in the Champa Garden direction. Nam Kao Tod (crispy rice salad with pork)--I like it better than Champa's version. Bigger bits of the cured pork, whole peanuts, more varied texture. I was very happy with this tonight. They also now have some Lao dishes, including the classic chicken soup w/ homemade noodles. Had guests tonight and ordered it without the pork blood cubes. It was still tasty, though I think I like the version at Champa Garden a bit more--I remember the chicken broth being more strongly chicken-y at Champa. Regardless, it's a cold remedy that any bubbie could get behind, homey and soul warming. They were very excited that I recognized the Lao dishes--I wonder if there are more to come.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lexdevil
                        y
                        yummyrice May 26, 2009 12:06 AM

                        Really? There's another Thai restaurant that's serves the Lao chicken noodle soup? The distinction between Lao cuisine and Thai cuisine is becoming even more blurred because Thai restaurants keep incorporating more Lao dishes.

                        I would love for the owners of Thai restaurants to put Lao dishes like Larb, Nam Khao (Tod), and Khao Piak Sen (Lao chicken noodle soup), Lemongrass Pork Sausages - Sai Oua/Sai Gork, Tum Som, and other Lao dishes in their own separate section of the menu so as not to confuse their customers who are expecting authentic Thai food. =)

                        1. re: yummyrice
                          s
                          shantihhh Jul 24, 2012 01:07 PM

                          Of course if the chef/owner is from Isan it is a blurr even when in Isan and Laos. Luang Prabang has some specialities that are very identifable like kaipen, water cress salad, oh and stuffed lemongrass-love tt one.

                          I love Isan food-maybe actually my favourite of all of Thailand.

                      2. h
                        Han Aug 24, 2008 10:40 PM

                        Tried this place and happy to report that this place is quite impressive.

                        #42 BBQ pork was excellent. The meat is well marinated and the sweet sauce doused on top of the rice is perfect. Not too sweet but subtle and flavorful. The meat could be more fatty to make it a bit more tender but even the cut that I had was allright. The sweet sauce on the side is different from the sauce on the rice and I thought was not that great.

                        I also had the pork neck that was posted on the board. To my surprise they were boneless. Again, very tasty and probably similar cut meat. Different marinade. It is more of a salty kind. Comes with punget fish sauce based sauce and lots of thai chilis.

                        The sausage appetizer was a great hit. The sausage had deep flavor comes from the complex spices within. It was not too dry-just right for this kind I think. It comes with many different things: small thin lime slices, peanuts, thai chilis, romaine lettuce leaves, small pieces of cabbage. And another pungent fish based sauce on the side.

                        The catfish salad was quite good but not as expertly fried into airy consistency as Thai Nakorn(?). The addition of juliened apple, cashews were nice touches.

                        The pork leg stew was decent and quite good although not my favorite rendition. I thought the cut of meat was simply too dry. But other than that, the seasonings and all the little things were very nice.

                        The shrimp paste fried rice was the least successful. Just not much flavor. The ingredients lacked sophistication and just not much excitements. The amount of shrimp paste was minimal even though I tried unsuccessfully to tell them to be more bold.

                        The soda drinks were great. Comes in green or red syrup. Highly recommended.

                        The owner Song(?) seems eager to please and did his best to serve everyone in the table. He is a good waiter for sure. I feel very comfortable with him the whole time. Very patient and seems happy to service us.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Han
                          Robert Lauriston Aug 25, 2008 09:24 AM

                          That's really annoying when they cut back on the shrimp paste in the shrimp paste fried rice, it makes the dish very boring.

                        2. n
                          nansook Aug 6, 2008 10:16 PM

                          so how is the food at THE on Larkin now that the chef is gone? we used to go there when we were up in SF. has the food gone down hill?

                          does anyone know if the new restaurant has the beef noodle soup on the menu? THE was the only place in the bay area that made that dish really well. my DH is thai and very very picky about thai food - THE was the only place he would eat that dish. you have to go to LA to get anything comparable.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: nansook
                            Robert Lauriston Aug 7, 2008 08:50 AM

                            The menu is almost identical, right down to the typos. "55. BEEF NOODLE SOUP $6.25 noodle with sliced beef, beef balls, beef strew and tripe." Chai Thai offers one more choice of noodles.

                            1. re: nansook
                              twocents Aug 7, 2008 02:31 PM

                              I have had the beef noodle soup at both places and think it is essentially the same. Other places that have a similar version, though perhaps not as good, are the Thai Noodle restaurant in the Tuk Tuk supermarket on University in Berkeley, and Tuk Tuk Thai on Shattuck, though I have not had those in a while.

                              Although some dishes are clearly the same, like the pork leg stew, some dishes are clearly different. I had Gai Ga Prow at Chai Thai, something that i have frequently at THE, and it was substantially different. The THE version is savory with emphasis on fish sauce, basil, chili and garlic. The Chai Thai version was sweeter and included bamboo shoots. Ordered medium it was not spicy at all, whilst THE medium has some heat. The Chai Thai medium was still good, to my taste; it is rather like the version at SaWooei in El Cerrito.

                              Pork leg stew is indeed the same at both places.

                              I very much enjoyed the pork neck appetizer that Robert recommends above.

                              1. re: nansook
                                n
                                nansook Aug 7, 2008 06:59 PM

                                thanks robert and 2cents! i'm super relieved to know that the beef noodle is still on the menu. i highly recommend checking it out!

                                and if you are in south bay -- THE place for thai food is either new krung thai or krung thai (we prefer going to the new krung thai).

                              2. Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2008 06:15 PM

                                Went for lunch today. Tried the BBQ "pork neck," I think it's jowl, anyway sliced and no bones. Tasty, nice texture, great dipping sauce. Catfish larb was as good as at Thai House Express.

                                They now have takeout menus and said they're offering delivery nearby and are working on the beer and wine license. They've apparently registered chaithainoodles.com but the site's not up yet.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  pastryqueen Aug 3, 2008 11:59 PM

                                  had a late dinner there tonight. On their specials menu they had a rice ball salad that was very similar to Champa Garden's. It had a slightly crunchier texture, had a more pronounced citrus flavor and had large clumps of rice noodles in it. Served with the lettuce leaf/mint/cilantro to make little packages. . not quite up to Champa Garden quality but good. . . I hope they leave it on because it was nice to have in a quieter setting than Champa Garden is now. Also had Tom Kha Gai - generous amount of chicken in a fairly citrusy broth. Also had Pad se-Ew with chicken - fairly pedestrian but nice char on the noodles which I really like.

                                  The server is sweet but sometimes there is definitely a language barrier - but it all works out.

                                  As Robert said they have to-go menus and seem to be doing a brisk delivery business. . I wish I lived close enough for delivery!

                                2. Robert Lauriston Jul 21, 2008 05:44 PM

                                  Went back again the other night. Sour seafood soup and crispy catfish with green beans were standouts.

                                  They'd put up signs for a pork neck special. Have to try that soon.

                                  1. g
                                    gordon wing Jul 14, 2008 07:52 AM

                                    Went for an early dinner last night (5pm) after checking out the Birth of the Cool Exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. Thanks to all the prior posts I had a nice list of things that sounded good. Enjoyed the Deep Fried Pork Sausage Appetizer No. 5 on the menu.....liked the somewhat finer texture ( compared to other Thai sausages ) and the interplay of all the other components: lime bits, chilis, cilantro, cabbage, peanuts, onion& ginger. Their version of Tom Kha Gai (Hot & Sour Chicken Soup) No. 20 was nicely balanced with spice and tangyness. Fried Tofu with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce was OK ..... the tofu was pretty crispy but not so creamy inside, which is my preference. The tofu sat on a bed of vegetables. The Peanut sauce was delicious - they roast their peanuts pretty dark which adds some depth of flavor. The Special Pork Leg Stew was indeed "special" ......No. 40 The pork had a bit of skin/fat but the meat was generally lean but still moist and tender - with nice notes of anise and fish sauce, soy, etc..... the pickled vegetables and other greens underneath balanced out the flavors of this dish. Would definitely order this again. Pineapple fried rice was fine ...... the pineapple was in somewhat large chunks compared to the other ingredients ...... so that you didn't get as much pineapple as you would if it was cut finer and in every spoonful. ( being a bit picky ) But it was still a good foil for some of the other spicier dishes. A bit more wok breath would have added another dimension. No. 47. Pad Thai No. 61 was nicely balanced ..... touch of sweetness and spice. Good texture on the noodles. They bring a plate of lime & bean sprouts separately instead of tossing the sprouts into the dish. Finished with some Mango and Sticky Rice with Coconut ..... nice ripe mango and barely warm coconut rice -yum.
                                    Ordered all dishes with just a bit of heat and we had doubles of most dishes. Pad Thai was a triple order but all in one dish. They were very friendly and helpful but I don't speak Thai and their English is OK but not great. We had a hard time explaining a nut allergy and a shrimp allergy to them. For the tofu/veg with peanut sauce I asked for the peanut sauce on the side ( which is the way it comes anyways) but then they sprinkled chopped peanuts over the tofu. Ordered the Pad Thai with Pork and it came to the table with Shrimp (they looked good) - they took it back and cooked the dish as ordered. And the Mango and Sticky Rice had a few chopped peanuts sprinkled on top of the rice ....... We usually go out to a family style Chinese dinner for gatherings so this was a nice change - everybody liked all the different flavors and textures. We had a lot of food - the tables were covered with dishes - and it all came to $105. w/tax $114. A few folks came in for takeout and there was only one or two other diners during our meal. We left at 7pm ..... so it was a relatively slow night. Hope lunch is better because I enjoyed it and hope they do well in this location. They now have a paper menu that you can take - and now they have a 10pm closing time - every day.

                                     
                                     
                                     
                                     
                                    1. l
                                      liujenny Jul 11, 2008 09:54 PM

                                      Thanks for the great report and everyone's suggestions. We ended up going there tonight for a late dinner @ 9pm, there was only one other table when we got there. They do take credit cards now (Visa, MC and Discover) with a $10 minimum. We ordered the Chan Pad Poo (Stir fried spicy Thai noodles with Dungeness crab meat, egg and green onions $9.95) and the Beef Noodle Soup ($6.25). Both of them were really good, but I especially liked the Chan Pad Poo, it had generous portions of good crab meat in it and it was definitely spicy enough.

                                      The restaurant was bright, simple and clean. Service was adequate and friendly. They now have a take-out menu that I took home with me. I've never eaten at THE before, but I can say that Chai Thai Noodles is a good spot.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: liujenny
                                        Robert Lauriston Jul 12, 2008 06:25 AM

                                        Interesting that you got generous portions of crab. The batch we had the other night had hardly any.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          m
                                          MKatrinaToo Jul 12, 2008 10:34 AM

                                          Maybe they are reading chowhounds. The first nite we were there, I tried to tell them they are on the chowhound website. Language problems, but everybody, including me, tries hard. BTW, we went there again last nite around 6:00 pm. Had the Sausage appetizer, hot and sour shrimp soup, stir fried beef w/ mushrooms, carrot and onion (# 5, 21, and 84). This time # 84 was served w/ the entree alongside the rice; the other nite, # 82 was served as a tossed rice, i.e., the entree served as sort of a lightly applied garnish. Anyway, enough food this time that we ended up taking a good portion home. (Happily, the waitress brought over a box w/ lid, both sturdy enough to serve as a bento box for my own efforts.) We had the banana w/ ice cream for dessert. hey, are restaurants buying the bananas frozen in bulk these days? the banana was suspiciously the same as at a Thai restaurant we went to in Berkeley two weeks ago: a somewhat unpleasant thick, gummy batter encasing a gooey, brown banana piece.) Doesn't anyone hand dip a freshly peeled banana these days?

                                          1. re: MKatrinaToo
                                            Robert Lauriston Jul 12, 2008 06:29 PM

                                            There's a whole section of the menu (which includes the pork leg stew) that can be ordered as rice plates or a la carte. I pointed to the a la carte price to make sure there was no confusion.

                                      2. m
                                        MKatrinaToo Jul 10, 2008 11:27 PM

                                        MMMmmmmm!!!! We zipped right over there last night for dinner. We had the pork leg noodle soup; sauteed salted fish w/ Chinese broccoli and sticky rice w/ mango for dessert. Everything was EXCELLENT! The soup was not on the menu, but the waitress knew what we wanted. The dessert was just fabulous--perfectly ripe mango (and they gave you the WHOLE mango, including the middle strip left over after cutting the mango in half and good quality glutinous rice, for only $4.50). Altho the fish and broccoli was more like a garnish to the rice, it was also excellent.
                                        The owner, cooks, wait staff and others went out of their way to chat w/ us; the owner told us that he got a good deal on the location and was excited to open this restaurant. We were the only patrons last night wen we were there; I hope that Chai Thai gets enough business; it is now my very favorite Thai restaurant. And I want to make sure that I will have a reliable destination for Thai. We plan on going there next week and we already know what we are going to order.

                                        1. Robert Lauriston Jul 9, 2008 09:01 AM

                                          Posted hours are now 11am-10pm seven days. There were still people coming in at 9:30. Most of the other customers looked Thai.

                                          Zero atmosphere. Bright fluorescent lights and white tile, feels like a big institutional shower room.

                                          Food was definitely the same as at the Larkin THX. Squid salad, pork leg stew, stellar. Shrimp paste fried rice could have used more shrimp paste but I have the same problem at THX. My friend complained that there wasn't a noticeable quantity of the promised Dungeness crab or crab flavor in the noodle dish, but otherwise it was great. Two dishes were $8, one $9, one $10. Cash only.

                                          No alcohol, no application posted, but when we asked about beer the server said "Next," so I guess they plan to get a license.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            jason carey Jul 9, 2008 05:38 PM

                                            I got to go food from there the other night and it was very very tasty for the Bay Area. I got it medium spicy, and it was not spicy at all.. did this as a baseline test. Next time will order "thai spicy" and see what happens.. the food however was quite good.

                                          2. Xiao Yang Jul 8, 2008 08:20 PM

                                            Marcia Gagliardi's Tablehopper Newletter acknowledged the discovery by "a Super-sleuthy chowhound" (you) and included a link to to this thread.

                                            http://www.tablehopper.com/2008/07/ch...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                                              DezzerSF Jul 8, 2008 08:53 PM

                                              You know that day was funny. I remember staring at that grand opening sign and debating internally whether to try it or not. I must have walked back and forth on that corner about three times, thinking Pho or Thai? I think it was the hound in me that finally prevailed.

                                              Thanks for the link XY!

                                            2. lucymom Jul 8, 2008 07:30 PM

                                              since thai house express is our favorite thai restaurant, we had to check it out today for lunch. the menu looked the same so we ordered our usual.
                                              - yum neur (beef salad)
                                              - tom yum noodle soup
                                              - chicken green curry
                                              everything tasted very similar to thai house express. we asked for it hot and they kept to their word. the only complaint was that the beef salad was grisly and cup chunkier rather than thinly sliced. my husband still loved it. i'm so excited to not have to trek into the city for thai food.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lucymom
                                                DezzerSF Jul 8, 2008 08:27 PM

                                                I was there today as well and had the Ga-Prow Talay, sauteed seafood combination with chilis, carrots, onions, bell peppers and basil. It came with a generous portion of shrimp, squid, shrimp balls, and fish balls. The squid were especially fresh and tender. I remember them including cubes of fish though at THE. I didn't specify spiciness, but the dish was pretty spicy with the inclusion of thai chilies. The owner placed the condiment jar of thai chilies in fish sauce on our table and that really took the dish to the next level.

                                                My friend liked the Kao Pad, fried rice with onions, egg and a choice of meat.

                                              2. k
                                                kc72 Jul 5, 2008 03:43 PM

                                                nothing bigger than the four-tops there?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kc72
                                                  pastryqueen Jul 5, 2008 05:15 PM

                                                  no, it's very small, very modest. I am sure they could put two tables together if need be. They are very well spaced so there is plenty of room to reconfigure if you had a large group.

                                                2. daveena Jul 5, 2008 10:55 AM

                                                  I went for dinner right after I saw your post - I haven't eaten at Thai House Express, so I can't make the comparison, but I really liked everything I ordered.

                                                  Can't remember the names, but I had the fried sausage appetizer (a generous portion of finely textured, lemongrass-scented sausage - the skin was nicely browned and had an addictive snap - the sausage was served with cabbage, chilis, cilantro, and peanuts), the shrimp paste fried rice (maybe slightly wetter texture than I usually like in fried rice, but I'm such a sucker for the flavor of shrimp paste it's really hard for me to be critical of dishes that feature it), and what I thought was the catfish salad DezzerSF described, since it sounded so tasty, but I actually ordered a catfish entree with deep fried pieces of catfish, vegetables (all I remember were the really tasty green beans) and what I think may have been the same sauce described above for the salad.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: daveena
                                                    DezzerSF Jul 5, 2008 11:41 AM

                                                    I think you actually lucked out on the catfish entree. I was actually going for the catfish larb, Larb Pla so it wasn't really what I wanted. After my visit, I read about others making the same mistake at THE.

                                                    The sausage sounds good though, is it similar to the Lao sausage at Green Papaya Deli?

                                                    1. re: DezzerSF
                                                      pastryqueen Jul 5, 2008 02:12 PM

                                                      had a "working" lunch here today.. . took great delight in the fact that the menu IS just copies of the THE menu. A few items are missing such as my favorite fried rice dish but the Pork Leg Stew is intact and almost as good as ever. It seems to me that they are using regular long grained rice as opposed to jasmine rice but that's my only quibble. . . the stew was delicious, the beef salad was amazing. It's very bare bones - very but the food is so good that I don't care. I am so very happy to have this so close to home!

                                                      1. re: DezzerSF
                                                        daveena Jul 5, 2008 03:36 PM

                                                        The flavor of the sausage is similar to the one at Green Papaya, but it's not as coarse in texture.

                                                    2. lexdevil Jul 4, 2008 02:26 PM

                                                      Open today (July 4). The Nuer Kem and the Kao Ka Moo were both great. Taking orders of Yum Woonsen and Som Tum Thai to my parents later today, so I haven't yet passed judgment on them.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: lexdevil
                                                        DezzerSF Jul 5, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                        Thanks for the report. Was the chef in house? The server made a point of introducing me to him when I recognized the menu and made the connection.

                                                        How were your parents' dishes?

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