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There is good Thai food in San Diego

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There is a new place at 2405 Ulric in Linda Vista called Sab E Lee ('sep e lee'). Forgive the spelling. Since the Thai language has 28 vowels and 44 consonants, there is no transliteration, and the owners didn't put an English name on the menu, business cards or the signage. The blue awning outside says 'Linda Vista Food'.

Anyway, it's been open since Monday, and I've eaten there four days in a row. (Yes, I am obsessive.) I love Thai food, and this is the best I have ever eaten in San Diego in a restaurant. Nobody can match my wife's food- she is from Chiang Mai - but she is in Dutch Harbor at the moment, and I must fend for myself.

It's a tiny place with maybe six or seven tables. There are 135 items on the menu, and many I haven't seen in San Diego before, like Northeastern Sausage (#69), Northern Sausage (#70), Catfish Larb (#71) and Spicy Raw Beef (#68).

To me the benchmarks of a Thai place are the Larb and the Som Tum, or the Papaya Salad. Here the bossman Koby scored points when he asked if I wanted my Som Tum Thai-style or Lao-style. I prefer Thai-style; the Lao is a bit murky, or thick for my taste. This was very good. My nose ran, my mouth burned and I was sweating in my hair, so it was nice and spicy. There were more peanuts than I would have wanted, but lots of the chewy dried shrimps.

I had the Larb Beef today. I loved it. Often Larb here in the States is just ground meat with rice powder, lime juice and chiles. A feature of Larb in Thailand is parts. You can be happily eating your meal when you find something in your mouth you can't identify. 'Please let this be from the animal', you think. "Do I pull it out and lose face, or soldier on?' There were no mystery parts today, but I did find nice slices of liver and tripe to mix things up. It was moist, spicy and just about perfect.

My favorite,however, has been #44, or Spicy Mint Leaves with Steamed Pork Leg, another dish I haven't seen in San Diego before. I eat this every chance I get in Thailand. The pork is steamed with cinnamon, I believe, and it becomes so tender you can pull it apart with your fork and spoon. The juice leaves the rice so, so . . , Man, I need to go to Adjective School. I just don't have enough words. Be warned, however. You get just as much fat as meat here. And it's just as tender, and just as wonderful.

I'm getting hungry again. Check this place out. They are open from 9:30 to 9:30 seven days a week. Telephone 858 650 6868.

Tom

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  1. Dude, What a find and what a wonderful post Uncle Lefty!

    Is the pork leg stew called something a long the lines of "ko kah moo" ? Thats my favorite thai dish and the way you describe the rice seems to fit the bill but I have only had it at a songkran fest.

    I am getting there asap. Thanks so much

    3 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      That pork leg with spicy mint leaves grabbed my attention too. Definitely need to try this place soon - thanks for the tip!

      1. re: kare_raisu

        Dude. I appreciate it. I eat out at least once a day, and I owe probably 90% of my rotation to Chowhounds in general, and people like you in particular.

        I don't remember what the dish is called in Thai. I just don't have an ear for the language, and it's probably called something different in the North, Bangkok and Isaan. I listen for the tones and the syllables get by me. I know the 'moo' is correct. (Rising tone, I think.)

        Was your Songkran festival in Thailand? If so, how many buckets of canal water did you take to the face?

        Tom

        1. re: Uncle Lefty

          Ha, no it was up in Escondido!

      2. It was pretty good when it was "Thai by Tara" when I went there in about March of this year. At least they kept the cusine the same in this rendition...gotta try the location yet again. Thanks for the report.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          Whoa - this sounds like a great tip - thanks! It's gotta be good for me to drive, but this might do it!

          1. re: Cathy

            You're welcome, Cathy. I liked 'Thai by Tara' a lot. It was the closest Thai place to my home, and my wife knew the owner.

            I thought their Beef Noodle Soup (I asked for 'Boat Noodles') was the best in San Diego. They had a small menu, but everything was very good. A couple of times they even had 'Khao Soi', the ultimate Northern comfort food.

            I was really disappointed when they closed, but I think this new place is even better. The menu is much more ambitious and the food is less geared to us non-Thais.

            1. re: Uncle Lefty

              Good Call Uncle Lefty - Tried this place out on Thursday...it is the real deal! The Som Tum was excellent.

              1. re: KirkK

                I wanted add a bit more but got called away.

                The Owner is Issan - so is the cook, who can really cook.

                No Issan style sausage the day we went, and no raw beef salad.
                The Pad See Ew was well done, cooked perfectly, I enjoyed the balance of sweet and savory. The one thing that impressed me the most was how the noodles were cooked, there was "wok hey' present! We got the Som Tum "Issan style"...quite spicy, with the nice pungent flavor of salted crab.

                When I asked about the name of the place, he wrote down "Sab-E-Lee" on the business card.

                1. re: KirkK

                  we'll have to try it!

          2. this is great news. Thanks!

            1. oohhh we live near there and I saw it being worked on, so I am excited to give it a try. I am a bit confused: do you mean the menu doesn't have anything in English, or they didn't put the restaurant name on the menu in English? I would love to check it out but if I can't read anything it will be hard to order heh heh. Thanks for the heads up!

              1 Reply
              1. re: MrKrispy

                The menu is in English and Thai. They didn't put the name of the restaurant on the menu, the business cards or the signage outside in an English script.

                Enjoy.

                Tom

              2. As most long time SD Chowers know, LA style Thai Town restaurants have not been present in our berg. This is no longer the case. Sab E Lee is an outstanding Issan food resource. I had the Koi Soi (raw beef with serious heat and complex flavors), the Bamboo Shoot Salad, and the Pahd See Ewe. It was all excellent. Bring your asbestos stomach liners and your Pepsid AC. Owner Koby's little restaurant is the SD Thai place that could. Note, as most of you know, Kirk K's treasure of a blog is covering this new establishment as we speak. In fact we crossed paths there tonight.

                http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: Captain Jack

                  I Really want this place to make it. It's less than three miles from my house, and on the way to and from work.

                  Go Koby!

                  Tom

                2. Thanks, Uncle Lefty! My chef-man and I just had a leisurely lunch at Sab E Lee. We followed all your recommendations, including the Papaya Salad, which has always been one of our favorites. The mint leaves (basil) pork is just as you describe it, even without the benefit of adjective school. The hint of mystery spices is perfect. We loved our free (and pretty) Thai Iced Tea, and the service was lovely. I don't much about Thai food, but I do know that when you walk into an establishment and it smells this yummy, the omen is good. Yes, it's a tiny place, but there was a nice breeze blowing in the open doors, it was sparkling clean, and we had the place to ourselves. I felt like a queen. Yes, yes, yes, we'll go back!

                  1. Uncle Lefty--thanks for posting this and giving a great tip on a great Thai place! OMG--the food is SOOO good--best we've ever had in SD and easily stands up to LA places. We went tonight and had Tom Ka Kai, Pahd Woon Sen, papaya salad, bamboo shoot salad, red chicken curry and spicy mint leaves noodles. One of our dinner companions is vegetarian and they were kind enough to substitute tofu for the meat in some of our dishes.

                    My SO cannot remember the last time he had good Tom Ka (estimate several years ago). Perfect balance of chili heat, coconut milk and a touch of sour. Not at all overly sweet or drowning in coconut milk flavor like many of the other places around town. Nice, big straw mushrooms--they were so big they looked mutant!

                    Papaya salad was an explosion of heat and flavors (got it spicy and they gave it spicy!)--couldn't get enough of this, even though I got heartburn from it!

                    Bamboo salad was a really nice complex dish of heat, cilantro and a "darker" flavor with bamboo shoot texture. I think the "darker" flavor came from the shoots themselves, although if I'm wrong, somebody correct me.

                    Red curry was pleasantly flavorful, again not too sweet. Not watered down like other curries we've had. A good pile of chicken, bamboo shoots, eggplant and veggies in the bowl. We all wanted our own bowl w/ rice to sop up all the sauce!

                    Mint leaves w/ rice noodles...mmm...a more gentle spicy heat with a nice kick of cleaner tasting mint. Kind of reminded me of a lighter, different version of beef chow fun, and a good one at that.

                    Pahd Woon-Sen--fun sze (mung bean thread) with veggies and tofu. The only non-spicy dish we got (I was glad b/c I needed something to cool off my mouth) and it was also tasty. They use the kind of tofu that has been deep friend and then cut into halves; making for a nice crunchy-firm tofu texture.

                    We will definitely be going back, hands down!

                    1. do they offer dishes that aren't so spicy or do you have an option for spice level? I love the spicy stuff but my GF doesn't tolerate it so well.

                      We live down the street by the 7-11 so this is super close, can't wait to go!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: MrKrispy

                        Although I'm a Thai foodie neophyte, I have been pleased with the food at Lanna Thai, on Mission Bay Dr. (across from Rubio's). My question to you Thai experts is, what would you recommend as the ultimate go-to dish for a vegetarian who craves spice? The only thing I've been stuck on is red curry (spicy #8) and brown rice. Any suggestions? I'd love to expand my horizons....

                        1. re: ginael

                          can't compare Sab E Lee to Lanna Thai, but they were more than happy to substitute tofu for the meat in any of their dishes. One of our dining companions was vegetarian and she was very pleased.

                        2. re: MrKrispy

                          they have non-spicy dishes and you can specify the spice level. I'd recommend mild and hopefully your GF will be ok.

                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            Ask Koby. They have more than 100 items on the menu, so I'm sure a bunch of them are not inherently spicy. They would also lighten up on the heat on a particular dish if you asked them.

                            Do you live down the hill by the Super Bronco? I love that place. It's one of those places where, if I'm driving by and see a parking place, I'll stop in and buy something for later. Their 50 cent bag of carrots is pretty incredible. (Not to go off topic or anything.)

                            1. re: Uncle Lefty

                              thanks for the help everyone.

                              Yeah I live near there. I try to get tacos at La Princesita taco truck instead haha.

                          2. While it has been a couple of years since I have been able to try it,Karinya Thai & Vegetarian 4475 Mission Blvd is real and tasty. Highly recommended for authenticity.
                            Phood

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Phood

                              Thanks. I've been to Karinya and liked it. I haven't heard of Super Bronco, but will look it up. I'm all about super spicy in a vegetarian dish. Didn't think about substituting tofu for meat.

                              1. re: ginael

                                Hi Ginael.

                                Super Bronco is a Mexican place, but Boy Howdy it's good. I apologize for the lack of clarity.

                                Karinya was always my favorite Thai place when I lived in PB, but to me the place is as interested in the Thai atmosphere as the food. At Sab-E-Lee, nobody will be wearing ancient silk, but the food will be more real and less expensive.

                                Tom

                                1. re: Uncle Lefty

                                  Bravo Uncle Lefty!

                                  My wife and I tried some take-out last night, what a revelation, what searing pain ;-)

                                  We had:

                                  Bamboo Shoot Salad
                                  Catfish Larb
                                  Spicy Mint Noodles (with fried tofu)

                                  The complexity of each dish had so many flavors running through it each dish was almost like tasting three different dishes, perfectly balanced, with an aftertaste that took on a life of its own (this stuff was spicy, we needed to wait 30 minutes between each dish).

                                  Anything can be made vegetarian and anything can be made mild (which we will do next time -- I swear I was hallucinating last night I had so many chili endorphines firing off).

                                  My wife knew this place as the crappy sandwich joint she used to walk to when she worked at the school up the street so she was very pleased to see it turn into this place. Luckily it is on her way home from work and will be in constant rotation.

                                  I thought I knew what Thai food was, this place showed me I knew nothing, and now I have a great place to learn.

                                  Thanks for sharing your find.

                                  1. re: Ewilensky

                                    Stopped by Sab e Lee today on the strength of suggestions from this board (I'm a prof at USD, so always interested in Linda Vista dining options). SEL did not disappoint. I was on my own for lunch, so I only was able to try one dish --- the Rhad Na with Shrimp (I was in a gravy mood, and always like to judge a place by its noodles). So much more complex than the Rhad Na I've had elsewhere in town. Let's get some people into this place and make sure they stick around.

                                    PS - I'm pretty sure there was another Chowhound in the house -- table of three, two ladies and a guy who was lovingly describing other Asian spots around SD...

                                    1. re: Dr. K

                                      That would be me.....

                                      1. re: KirkK

                                        Hi Kirk. If yours was the party that was leaving about 1:10, you left some red curry. And you didn't eat the cabbage that came with your larb. (Sorry. Small world, and I am nosy.) I was the guy picking up my beef noodle soup just as your party was leaving.

                                        Incidentally, I had the bamboo salad the other day and it was my favorite dish yet. It reminded me of jackfruit salad, which I've only had in LA Thai Town and Chiang Mai.

                                        Tom

                                        1. re: Uncle Lefty

                                          Actually, the two gals I was with are not particularly good "vegetable eaters"...and not CH's, nor particularly adventurous or familiar with Thai food (at least good Thai Food) as a whole. I ate all the cabbage that came with the Yum Nahm Tok Nuea. They took the leftovers...so I'm not quite sure what they wanted to take with them, and am not in the habit of telling people how and what they should eat. After all, I had to stop by and get dinner from there tonight!

                                          No problem....I'm used to nosy people.

                                          1. re: KirkK

                                            How can you not be nosy in Sab-e-lee? It's like dining in a family home, and you automatically feel kinship with the other diners just for being there. . .

                                            1. re: KirkK

                                              I had a sneaking feeling it was you, Kirk. I'm a fan of your blog as well. Sorry I didn't introduce myself. Next time...

                              2. My only gripes are that they microwave their rice .. and on occasion put too much white pepper.

                                1. Thanks Uncle, and the rest of you who posted! I don't claim to be an aficionado but we do like our Thai food and so we ventured over here tonight. Koby was a great guy and is really tickled that he is getting this attention - SO LISTEN UP PEOPLE - when a place is a gem like this we have to support it and be sure it stays open! Tell all your friends!

                                  We had the Papaya Salad and the Spicy Mint Leaves with Steamed Pork Leg (thanks again, Uncle!). Both were just great. Koby asked us how spicy we wanted it, so on the 1-10 scale we had the salad at 8 and the pork at 5, and they were delivered just as requested. So spice newbies, don't be afraid, just tell him how hot you want it. 8 took us right back to Bangkok. 5 was nice, maybe not spicy enough for us. We will definitely be eating our way through the menu.

                                  As we were finishing two guys poked their noses in. We tried to wave them in but they wandered off. Ten minutes later they came back and took a seat. So on our way out I gave them my print-out of this thread ... they were delighted.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Bobierto

                                    This place is great. The food is so addictive. If anyone tries more dishes, please describe. I love it. I've missed good Thai food in San Diego. I get it to go and for some reason it tastes better reheated the next day. The only thing is that I do like eating it with my own short-grained rice. Other than that, everything is sooo good. Thanks for posting this.

                                  2. My girlfriend and I went over for dinner last night and this place rocks!

                                    Based on the reviews I had the Green Papaya salad, larb shrimp, and my girlfriend had the Panang Curry. The larb shrimp was sublime, what a wonderful combination of flavors!
                                    The salad was everything I read about: interesting, tasty, and it had me sniffling and chugging water for quite the while. The Panang Curry was hands down the best I have had in San Diego, a must try for those that go for the curry dishes.

                                    Prices are great, about $7 for an entree which is more than enough but not overwhelming. I like the sizing and pricing so we could try 2 things and I still had some leftover salad.

                                    I hope I can get the word out about this place so it survives, I love having it in the neighborhood as a counter weight to the Vietnamese and Mexican food.

                                    1. This place is fast becoming a favorite of mine. I do not have much time for commentary now, however I will let the pictures talk.

                                      My favorite as of now #44 Spicy Mint Leaves with Steamed Pork Leg I chose level 10 take me to BANGKOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v63...

                                      The savory Papaya Salad (thai
                                      )http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v63...

                                      The succulent Northern Sausage
                                      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v63...

                                      Thanks Uncle Lefty I love this place

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Masa Assassin

                                        oh wow, I gotta try both of those now! (the pork leg and mint leaves was going to be my next choice anyway). Thanks for the delectable pictures!

                                        1. re: Masa Assassin

                                          Don't thank me, thank Koby, Jum and Jay. I got home from seven days in Milwaukee at 4:00 this afternoon, and by 5:15 I had picked up my Northeastern Sausage and Bamboo Shoot Salad. (As well as my growler of Big Eye IPA from Ballast Point)

                                          I think we are doing a good job of keeping the gang in work. They opened on August 4th and they haven't taken a day off yet. They got a very nice review last week from Candice Woo in City Beat. I just hope we don't burn them out.

                                          Let's hope no one asks them to prepare Larb Gai Yai for Thanksgiving, so they can have a day off.

                                          Okay, no more beer for me.

                                          Tom

                                          1. re: Masa Assassin

                                            This place is so spicy good!!!!!!!! masa !

                                          2. I am a bit naive, what are we supposed to do with the sliver of cabbage that is on a lot of the plates? Is it just for show? They don't give knives out so it was kind of hard to pull apart with my fork, stir around in the sauce, fold it up and get it off the plate without it unfolding and spraying sauce every where.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MrKrispy

                                              You can eat it with your hand to balance out some of the spice and richness...

                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                Thai sausage, some larbs and some other Thai dishes usually come with the cabbage wedge. With your hands you take off a leaf and then with your spoon put on a piece (or half a piece) of the sausage and small amount of the other ingredients, including a third or a quarter of one of the hot peppers. Then fold the ends of the cabbage leaf up over the top and pop the whole thing in your mouth.

                                                1. re: ThaiNut

                                                  great to know, far healthier than using a tortilla haha j/k

                                              2. We had the Northern Sausage and the Spicy Mint Leave Noodles (with pork) last night.

                                                The sausage was delectable, does anyone know where they get them from??

                                                The spicy mint leave noodles were good but disappointing. They seemed like spicy noodles at any other Thai restaurant. I think they forgot the mint leaves, there was no mint flavor at all. I am hoping they were busy and just screwed up.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                  Did it have Thai basil? I was looking for a dish that I usually get at other Thai places but didn't see, so I asked the guy behind the counter for it in Thai. He said they had it and pointed it out on their menu. The description listed mint when it's actually basil.

                                                  There were two tables of hounds there. I just rudely interrupted the table closest to me and it turned out to be dimsumgirl and her family dining with a local San Diego hound. Sorry, didn't get your name.

                                                  Going back soon and I plan on ordering too much food.

                                                  1. re: Spinal Tap

                                                    That was a fun lunch today. I was happy that a local hound was willing to meet up for chow today. We met at the agreed upon time and were surprised by the other hounds that we ran into. We had fun chatting with the hounds who were unsuspecting participants in our chowdown.

                                                    As for the hound who had the formal meet-up with us, I'll let you reveal what details you want about our meet-up as we didn't discuss how much we were going to post about it. I will say that it was great to see you again and how much we appreciated your willingness to schedule lunch with us. We had a delicious meal and ordered five dishes for the four of us. I was surprised that we could not finish it all. My daughter enjoyed the place and hopes to meet you and other hounds for future events.

                                                    I was also pleased that the place was packed! Word has definitely gotten out about this place. A most enjoyable chow experience!

                                                    1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                      It was a lovely lunch! Today was definitely the most packed I have ever seen the restaurant--Koby seemed a bit overwhelmed but delighted.

                                                      I thought the Pad-see-ew today was the best that I've ever had it at Seb-e-lee. As you commented, it had excellent wok hay. I only wish that the catfish larb had come out a bit earlier with the other dishes. It's delicious, but I think it works much better as a complement to all of the other flavors in the meal, rather than being eaten on its own.

                                                      It was so much fun meeting Spinal Tap and the two other hounds in the restaurant. We loved being sandwiched between them, trading restaurant recs. Now every time I go to Seb-e-lee, I wonder whom I'll run into next!

                                                      1. re: Lillian Hsu

                                                        Lillian: Thanks for reporting about the delicious flavors in the food that we ordered. The bamboo shoot salad was a surprise to me. I thought it was going to be the dish tha I liked the least but it was addictive and I thin I ate more of it than anyone else at our table.

                                                        It was indeed fun to meet Spinal Tap. So glad that ST is bringing up chow pups in the proper fashion with good chow at a young age. The two other hounds ordered a lot of delicous looking dishes that I want to go back and try. I hope they post a report because other than the curry, I can't remember the names of the items they ordered.

                                                      2. re: dimsumgirl

                                                        I'm so glad to hear it was packed! Mr. Geeky and I picked up dinner to-go on a weekday night and it was empty at 7:45, which had us a little worried. Granted, it's not a heavily trafficked location in the evening and it was a weekday, but still... so I'm relieved to hear that we just happened to be there on a slow night!

                                                        There's awesome wok hei in the pad see-ew. I normally don't like the dish because it's usually pretty greasy, the noodles soggy, and the sauce so over-cooked that it's bitter. Sab-e-lee does it just right.

                                                        Sadly, I think I might have to give up the catfish larb... eaten alone with rice, it gave me a raging case of heartburn. :(

                                                        1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                          Geeky: I agree with you about pad se ew usually being greasy and not too appealing. Sab E Lee's version was a delightful surprise. I loved it! And you might ask if they can make the catfish larb a more mild version. I'm the biggest spice wimp around but I loved it. Only sorry that I was too full to eat too much of it by the time it came out. And even the bamboo shoot salad which I didn't think I could eat was great.

                                                    2. re: MrKrispy

                                                      MrKrispy-- I'm pretty sure all of the dishes that say "mint" actually mean Thai basil. Every time I've had the spicy pork with mint leaves, it's been Thai basil.

                                                      1. re: Lillian Hsu

                                                        haha ok, glad it is solved. a Chowhound Lost in Translation haha.

                                                      2. re: MrKrispy

                                                        Whenever I'm eating at a popular Chow spot, I'm always curious if there are other hounds present. For the first time I was lucky enough to meet some fellow hounds. Thanks to Spinal Tap for striking up the conversation with us along with Lillian and Dimsumgirl w/ familiy. It was great meeting you folks.

                                                        For our lunch we ordered the Panang curry which was good. Nothing special, but good flavor and a generous amount of chicken. Being in the mood for noodles, we went with the Spicy Mint Leaves Noodles. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but MrKrispy's description is spot on...ie. Drunken/Spicy Noodles at other restaurants. I did appreciate the wok hei flavor described in other posts rather than other places who douse noodles with chili oil or other sauces. But like MrKrispy I wanted a bit more with the noodles. However, having read all the positive reviews here, my expections were probably a bit high. I've only recently began appreciating Papaya Salad/Som Tom and this was definitely my favorite version in San Diego.

                                                        In retrospect, we ordered very run of the mill items and look forward to trying things that aren't available at most other spots. Please keep the req's coming!

                                                      3. On their menu, they have deep fried quail topped with crispy garlic flakes but it is crossed out. That sounds really good. Their menu looks like one of their kids copied it from some other Thai menu. It looks funny, but a sign of a great hole in the wall restaurant. Maybe since I can still read it on the menu, can someone who is brave enough ask them to start making it.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: weepiggy

                                                          They will make it if you order it ahead of time. Same with whole catfish. You'll need to order a day ahead.

                                                          1. re: weepiggy

                                                            Yes indeed call ahead, the are very accommodating. I called for the pork tounge jerky but they didn't have any. Koby recommended pork neck when I called, and stated they had two in. I told Koby I would be in the next day to claim one :P

                                                            The next day I had a delicious pork neck meal, the garlic chili sauce it came with was perfect. I have never had this cut before but I loved it. Fatty but good!

                                                            http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v63...

                                                          2. Tried calling this Wednesday evening (7pm) for take-out and there's no answer. Did they change their hours? Perhaps they decided to take a day off?

                                                            1. This place is fantastic! I got the green papaya salad (thai style) since it was so highly recommend, and it didn't disappoint. The blend of spice and sweet and sour....yum. I also got the sausage, which was also delicious, and the pad see ew was the best i've had. This place is definitely worth the trip down to linda vista.

                                                              1. Finally made it back here last night. Another great, cheap meal! Having "learned" our lesson last time, we ordered everything on the "medium" spicy level and it was hot enough to get the kick but not so much that my nose was running and eyes were watering.

                                                                We got:
                                                                green papaya salad--wonderfully sour, hot, briny and crunchy. perfect amount of heat.
                                                                bamboo shoot salad--perfectly spicy and earthy
                                                                tom kha gai soup--well-balanced flavors with coconut sweetness, heat, lemongrass and stocked full of straw mushrooms and chicken
                                                                pad see ewe w/ chicken--good smoky, sweet flavor to the noodles
                                                                panang curry w/ beef--really nice, smooth peanutty flavor underneath the curry heat. excellent over a bowl of rice. the curry warms you up on cold nights!
                                                                beef with rice powder, cilantro and chili (forgot the actual name)--thinly sliced, dry fried beef with red onion, cilantro, lime and chili. super tasty, spicy and citrusy

                                                                Next time, I want to try the beef and tendon soup.

                                                                We were the only customers in there until 2 other people came an hour later. Two people came in for take out. I'm hoping it was just a slow night and the economy hasn't affected them too. I will DIE if they go out of business!

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: daantaat

                                                                  All the tables were filled at 12:30 on Saturday and 3 people who came had to wait in the parking lot until someone left. WHen two tables left about the same time, both were immediately taken, as was ours as wel walked into the parking lot. Koby told us he would close today and the last Monday in October. They have been open 7 days a week for more than 2 months now. He is exhausted.

                                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                                    Well people know of the place -- currently up for Best Thai Food on the Sign on San Diego Reader Poll so word is getting around.

                                                                    Daantaat -- what time did you eat there last night? We went by around 5:30 PM to pick up a to-go order. Delcious as usual. We tried the panang curry for the first time -- unlike any other panang I've ever had and has now ruined us for all other curries.

                                                                    1. re: Ewilensky

                                                                      we were there around 5:45-ish. Right about when we sat down, someone came in to get takeout. It looked like the order was called in b/c they came, paid and left with food.

                                                                      I'm glad to hear it was busy on Saturday and that it's up for Best Thai in the Reader! I was getting worried there for a bit!

                                                                  2. re: daantaat

                                                                    We had the beef and tendon soup on our first visit. There weren't very many pieces of beef, but the soup was really rich (if not a bit heavy handed with the white pepper) and has that nice sour flavor.

                                                                    1. re: clayfu

                                                                      I'm very curious to try the soup. I like nao nam soup noodles a lot and sounds like the Thai version is a variant of it.

                                                                  3. I FINALLY made it over to Sab E Lee and it was everything I expected and hoped! My sister from Idaho is visiting and was a little scared by the menu at first glance. We ordered Rice Noodle with Crab Meat, Pepper Garlic with beef, Tom Yum Soup and egg rolls for her kids. Everything was delicious and we have been craving it ever since. We ordered everything with an 8 spicy and it was perfect. Our favorite was the rice noodles with crab, the soup was your standard but tasty tom yum, the pepper garlic beef was spicy with white pepper and garlic, we loved it. We want to go back today and try the shrimp larb, pa-nang curry, papaya salad, beef salad, one of the pork dishes and those crab noodles again! Yum!

                                                                    1. I visited Sab-E-Lee for the first time last week -- definitely the most authentic Thai food I've had in San Diego -- it's not often that you find a place that has a menu with Thai characters on it.

                                                                      We ordered the Pad Thai (Shrimp), Yellow Curry with Duck, and the Tom Yum soup. The Pad Thai and curry were excellent -- the Tom Yum soup was a little strong for my tastes, but then again I'm probably more accustomed to the americanized versions. Though next time I'll pass on the Durian candies that they give out afterwards.

                                                                      For those that are interested, I also put a video together from my recent trip which you can see here: http://yelloww.net/blog/2009/01/sab-e...

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: thnarf

                                                                        OMG what a great job on that VIDEO! Very professional, informative, not to mention hilarious!
                                                                        Can't wait to finally get some authentic Thai Food in San Diego!

                                                                        1. re: thnarf

                                                                          if it's not spicy, what do you mean by strong? "barnyardy" like Zimmern will say or what exactly?

                                                                        2. Went tonight to checkout the buzz. We had the usual Yellow Curry, Papaya Salad, Pad Thai- all were outstanding! The only slightly disappointing thing was they were out of sticky rice and Thai Ice Tea...we didn't get there until 8 pm Sat. night. They do have a website now (is it ok to post the link?)
                                                                          http://sab-e-lee.webs.com/

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: gotukola

                                                                            Thank you for posting that link, gotukola