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Oct 7, 2008 01:26 PM

Lers Ros Thai restaurant (Tenderloin)

Noticed this restaurant was opening a couple weeks ago and went today for a solo lunch.

Had the wild boar stir-fried with galanga, chili and peppercorns, with a side of sticky rice. While this dish was not as good at what I can get at Palms Thai in Hollywood, I was pleased with lunch.

I asked for spicy, and the heat was close to what I wanted (could have been spicier).The sauce had a very nice round flavor, and the boar was tender enough to make me think it might be pork...maybe(?).

Most intrigued by other specialty items you don't normally see on SF Thai restaurant menu, like stir-fried clams in sweet chilli paste, a couple of frog dishes, and quail. I'll return and report again.

Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St (between O'Farrel & Ellis)
San Francisco, CA 94199
(415) 931-6917

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  1. Thanks for adding another potential Thai spot to my Tenderloin list for Nov trip. If you've been to any other Thai restos in the area (esp Sai Jai, THE, either Bang San location), I'd be interested to know how it compares, either so far or when you go again.

    1. I just went here for lunch and the food is excellent. Definitely better than THE or Sai Jai, although not quite as good as being in Thailand. Ingredients were fresh and the seasoning was very complex. The menu is either daunting or exciting depending on your point of view. We stuck with some basics today, but I'm definitely trying more adventurous items next time.

      We had the Thai herb sausage, which wasn't quite as funky as it would be in Lao place, but still had a nice chunkiness with some fatty bits. It came garnished with chili peppers, ginger, raw onion, and peanuts, which was a nice touch.
      The koh moo yang, or grilled pork shoulder, compared very favorably with Sai Jai. It was very juicy with a better flavor, although my friend preferred the less fishy dipping sauce at Sai Jai.
      The Kao Kaa Moo rice plate (well stewed pork leg in 5 spice soup with green mustard, chinese broccoli, and chili vinegar sauce) was very tasty with the greens and sauce nicely cutting through the richness of the meat.
      The silver noodle salad was excellent with bright flavors. (Most renditions are overseasoned with this unhealthy orange color, too many mushy noodles, and too much pork.) The noodles were perfectly done here without clumping, the peanuts were fresh, the dried shrimp were tasty, and the dish had a cooling sour flavor with a heat that gradually built up.
      The stir fried clams were popular at many tables. It was a nicely spicy dish garnished with red peppers and basil.
      Finally, we had the stir fried pork with crispy rind and chinese broccoli. It was intensely savoury and I appreciated that they went to the trouble of peeling the gailan stalks. It can be found under the garnishes for the rice soup section (in small or large plates).

      My only warning is that portions can be on the small side, but I think the expert cooking is well worth it!

      Please go and help me work through the 120+item menu!

      Lers Ros Thai
      730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

      14 Replies
      1. re: sfbing

        I'd say exciting! I was supposed to have dinner there on Sunday but plans fells through. Will have to try harder, and it's very helpful to have your report to plan a strategy. Many thanks.

        Lers Ros Thai
        730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: sfbing

          How are prices? I definitely want to go here soon.

          1. re: Dave MP

            To give you an idea of prices, our lunch was $45 without tip and we overordered. The sausage was $6.25, the stewed pork leg rice plate was 6.95. The clams were 7.25. There were 15 clams on the plate--I know this because we counted to make sure everyone got their fair share. It isn't hugely expensive, but the portions are smaller than at other thai places. Oh, and I think their portions of sticky rice are puny, but I'm supposed to watch my glucose. On the positive side, it is always better to like a dish so much you wish there was more than have a huge plate of nontasty food for cheap.

            The menu is very exciting--they have three different papaya salads, for example with crab, shrimp, or salted eggs. Lots of quail, frog, and rabbit. They also have catfish salad (which I tried in Phuket and didn't like because it seemed like eating a salad of beach sand, but was popular with others). Other possible interesting choices are #5 "fried tender marinated pork cartilage" and #30 Tom Kreang Nai "house special broth with pork entrails, green mustard; served with house secret chili and vinegar sauce."

            You've gotta admire a place that doesn't flinch from putting the word "entrails" on it's take out menu.

            1. re: sfbing

              I probably have a spell of good chow karma going on.

              Visited this place for lunch today and had the deep fried whole tilapia (yes I know- farmed, muddy, et al) - it was topped with red bell pepper and finely chopped ginger garlic and whole basil. This was fresh and perfectly fried. Along with a Fat Tire, it was close to perfect.

              Also had the salted egg salad based on the owner's recommendation and both of these items were outstanding.

              I requested the owner to make everything 'Thai style' and not dumb it down, and boy did they deliver !

              I can safely say this is the best Thai food I have had outside of Thailand.

              Clearly I will be back for more culinary adventures and as mentioned above they serve frog on the bone, rabbit and pig and chicken entrails !

              Thanks to David, sfbing and others.

              Lers Ros Thai
              730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

          2. re: sfbing

            I visited recently with 2 friends that travelled to Thailand with me - we loved the food and were completely nostalgic. We were happy to hear they make their own roasted chili paste and curry pastes. We asked for our food spicy, but they still dumbed it down a bit since the food in Thailand was much spicier.

            The spareribs with roasted chili paste was on the specials menu and we wanted to try something involving the chili paste. It seemed like the spareribs were cooked (boiled?) for a long time for tenderness, and then stir fried with the chili paste. This was excellent, and definitely better than anything out of a jar.
            The yum koh moo yang (grilled pork shoulder salad) was also very good. The pork was tender and juicy, with a small strip of fat on one edge.
            The tom yum pla kra pong (sea bass in spicy and sour soup) had four large pieces of fish and arrived in bundt-like serving pot with flames in the middle. The soup was limey and spicy, and not sweet at all. The fish was fresh and a few mushrooms were added to the soup.
            The one dish that was disappointing was the green curry - mainly because they needed to use 3-5x more curry paste.

            I am looking forward to trying more of their food, including some of their noodle soups and items from their rice soup menu. What a great menu!

            1. re: felice

              "We were happy to hear they make their own roasted chili paste and curry pastes. "

              That makes my ears very happy too!

              1. re: felice

                I took most of the green curry home to try to fix it up. Turned out I was wrong when I said the curry needed more curry paste. After adding about a teaspoon of fish sauce, the curry flavor came through and the dish was actually very good.

                1. re: felice

                  Quite late, but maybe you'll see this: when I order Thai food, I ask them to season it like they would for a Thai person. Then they look at me quizzically, and I reply, "you know, dishes that should be spicy, I want really spicy, and I like real fish sauce, not wimpy fish sauce." Something about mentioning fish sauce is more effective than just saying you want something spicy--then they will actually season things correctly. Even better if you can remember that fish sauce is "pla ra" and ask for a little dish of fish sauce/chillies/garlic which is called phrik nam pla.

                  1. re: SteveG

                    We also asked for the caddy of condiments to let them know we meant business. Never used them, but I think it helped get the point across. The duck larb was a bit too fiery for my taste. The venison dish, despite being dried out, had delicious seasonings that hit the right heat for me.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I thought the duck larb was just right. When you all insisted on "Thai hot" I thought it might be too much, but it was fine for my tastes.

                    2. re: SteveG

                      Having my own reverse language problems, perhaps 'wimpy' isn't a good word. If there is any sort of language issue, it won't be understood.

                      1. re: SteveG

                        > fish sauce is "pla ra"

                        Pla ra is hard core! Might be safer to ask for nam pla (nahm bplah).

                        (I haven't had a chance to try this place yet.)

                    3. re: felice

                      felice, I loved the sea bass in spicy and sour soup! Had it on Saturday with four other people. The fresh seabass on the bone was hacked into about six pieces and gently poached in the soup. A little hard to eat without chopsticks to tease away the bones, but the fish was so perfectly cooked we all atacked it with forks, spoons, fingers, and lots of gusto. The soup had a touch of coconut milk, bright notes from the lime, lemongrass savoriness, and some pieces of fresh oyster mushrooms. Terrific dish.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Wow, what an old thread! I can't believe it's only been two and half years since they opened. The other soup I like on their menu that you don't see a lot is their stuffed squid soup. It is more Chinese in style than tom yum soup, but I like it and wouldn't want to do all the work to make it myself.

                  2. First time at Lers Ros Thai in the Tenderloin. I thought it was ok. I was the first customer at 4:30pm since I didn't want to walk around anymore.

                    Waitress gave me FREE iced water while I waited for a friend. Menu is Huge. They have appetizers $5.95 - $7.95; salads $6.95-7.95; soups: $6.95-7.95; coconut milk curries $7.95-8.95; Vegetarians $6.25-7.5; Rice plates $6.225-7.95; noodles $6.95-7.95; pan fried noodles $7.5-7.95; house specials $7.25; original thai style $7.25-15.95; rice soup $1-$7.95; drinks; wine; beer; sake; side orders; desserts $3-4.50.

                    I picked these items:

                    #12 Som Tom Poo Dong $7.25-shredded green papaya salad w/ chili, cherry tomatoes, lime based salad dressing & crabs. She asked how spicy we wanted - we said medium and it's Spicy! No crab meat at all, just some shells & what tasted like raw crab. Gross. Shredded green papaya was just ok, didn't have cherry tomatoes - more like boring tomato. Skip this dish.

                    #105 Pad ped moo pah $7.50- boar stir-fried w/ a house made chili paste & galingale. Boar was chewy & not very tasty. I liked the sauce. Not much else. Portions on the small side.

                    Rice: got 2 orders, one for each of us. Tasted fine. $1.50 ea.

                    Subtotal $17.75 + $1.50 tax = $19.25 Before tip. Credit cards taken.

                    I'll probably visit here again one day since maybe I didn't order the best dishes, just not in any hurry.

                    Bathrooms: Up 2 flights of stairs in the back, separate bathrooms available.

                    Hrs: 11am-2AM!!

                    730 Larkin St (between O'Farrell & Ellis)

                    FREE delivery: Minimum order $15

                    My pics:

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: hhc

                      Ooh, I'm excited to hear that Lers Ros makes the papaya salad with salty crab!!! Yes, it's raw and adds great flavor to the salad. You don't see it very often. Sorry, you couldn't appreciate it.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        The same confusion occurred when I was there recently - someone in our party ordered papaya salad with crab thinking that there was going to be crab meat. Salted crab is more of an acquired taste - I like it in the salad for flavor but always leave it on my plate. In any case, this papaya salad was not as good as at the thai temple. They do handcut the papaya but didn't pound it enough since the flavor was not incorporated into the papaya.

                        During the same meal we had northern thai sausage (very good), fish cakes (excellent), eel w/chili paste and galingale (wouldn't recommend because of the texture/boniness of the eel), calamari with chili sauce (good), raw shrimp salad (very good but only if you like the texture of raw shrimp), and rad nah. The rad nah is the best I've had - great sear on the noodles and the gravy was full of flavor.

                        1. re: felice

                          if i am understanding this discussion correctly the crabs in question are not raw but pickled/preserved, and the little ones, right? no bigger than the size of a thumb?

                          I love som tam, and have eaten a whole lot of it both with and without the crab (im not crazy about them, but then again i didnt like the fermented shrimp paste all the Lao places put in their papaya salads either but somehow its grown on me) but it is my understanding that no one really "eats" the crabs. they get beaten up with the mortar and pestle to release their flavor, and the connesours of preserved crustacean may suck on the shells to extract the extra flavor.

                          sounds like a combination of an under-informative menu and inevitability of ordering things which are otherwise unknown entities.

                          1. re: felice

                            I also noticed how the papaya slices could have been pounded more for flavor. Also, the uneven widths of the papaya made for difficulty in balanced bites, I think I'd prefer them to use a mandoline since some of the slices were so thick.

                            1. re: DezzerSF

                              while a mandoline would be the perfect tool, in my experience most Som Tam makers use this julliene-cut peeler type things that are sold, i believe, exclusively for the purpose of shredding green papayas for salad. its pretty strange for them to come out uneven using this technique - perhaps they were cut by hand? that seems unduly time consuming and inefficient.

                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                I've actually cut papaya by hand myself for som tum and my slices were much more carefully done, not sure if a novice is at work in the kitchen. Also, my friend pointed out that the papaya seemed wilted, which I can now relate to the chewiness and lack of flavor the salad seemed to have.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            I'm sure you know this (you were the likely first reporter)- they have that salad at Ozone- I'd love to know how the salads compare.

                            I need to get to this place. I wonder if they have grilled sticky rice?

                            1. re: P. Punko

                              I was actually at Ozone a couple weeks ago and had the papaya salad. I don't remember any options for crab or shrimp, and actually don't think there was any protein in it (maybe dried shrimp). Maybe you have to ask for the crab? I definitely liked Ozone's version better than Lers Ros, but the dressing was on the sweet side for me. They made it plenty spicy though, even though some at the table said they didn't want it spicy. They even gave me a side of thai chilies, which I really appreciated.

                              I also tried Gai GaProw, another one of my tests of a Thai restaurant. The sauce was pretty good, but the thick slices of chicken breast didn't absorb much flavor. I like the dish with minced meat or dark chicken meat at least.

                              1. re: DezzerSF

                                The only other places that I am aware of that has green papaya salad with salted crab is Thai House Express and the thai temple in San Bruno. I think the crabs vary in size though - the ones I've seen are closer to the size of small soft shell crab. As for the uniformity of the cut, I tend to like the more rustic handcut because it varies the taste/texture in each bite, but it is a personal preference.

                                Thanks for the warning on the gai gaprow - I'll take that off my list of things to try. High on that list is the soup with stuff squid and the beef noodle soup with Thai herbs.

                                1. re: felice

                                  Note that the Gai Gaprow I had was at Ozone Thai. I agree with the rustic handcut of papaya, in hindsight I think my problem at Lers Ros was with the freshness of it. They were quite chewy, especially the thick ones.

                                2. re: DezzerSF

                                  It could have been a special, but it was definitely Ozone- we weren't sure how to eat the crab. I think it makes sense that the flavor gets pounded out of it.

                                  Ozone's chicken is standard non-velveted white meat chicken in those dishes, while I know it is not preferred, it is one of the only things I can get my usual DC to eat. She doesn't like dark meat or overly tenderized white meat.

                          3. I came with a friend tonight and tried a few dishes. Excited to try anything on the menu, we let the server upsell us on a couple things. Unfortunately her recommendations didn't serve us any better.

                            I wanted to start with the papaya salad, my benchmark of a Thai restaurant. They have three versions: crab, grilled prawns, or salted egg. We decided on the grilled prawns but the server suggested we get the combo on the daily special menu. It came with a slightly smaller portion of papaya salad, BBQ chicken, and sticky rice. I find BBQ items at Thai places generally uninteresting, but the server's enthusiasm won us over. The whole chicken leg was definitely nicely cooked, but the flavors pretty average. It was served with a sweetish chili sauce that we both avoided.

                            The papaya salad itself was missing a pungency from the kick of raw garlic. I've definitely had a better papaya salad at Thai House Express up the block, and my friend agreed. It was also only slightly spicy when we told them we could handle spicy. Like sfbing said, the single side of sticky rice was on the small side, one per person would be a good bet.

                            Next we had the Larb with chopped roasted duck, the other option being minced pork or chicken. Again, the duck was nicely cooked, but the seasoning weighed heavily on salty. I found myself wanting more acidity, and I guess we could have asked for a side of lime. Also, only red onions and cilantro were mixed in with the duck, some mint would have been nice. The thin cut pieces of iceberg lettuce were difficult to wrap with, if that's what their purpose was. I prefer the Thai Larb at Champa Garden.

                            Lastly, the server recommended a Thai soup, that she said couldn't be found elsewhere. I'm blanking on the name, but it's the spicy sour pork soup with their house made chili paste. She successfully upsold us to the pork sparerib version, but I'm not sure it's any better than the regular pork one, or worth it even. It came with ten small slices of pork spareribs (maybe a little over one rib at most), so the $9.95 price tag was a bit steep for me. Unfortunately the broth didn't win us over, and we both found it on the salty side as well. It did have plenty of lemongrass, lime leaf, and onions for complexity, but was unbalanced as a whole. Maybe some more tamarind juice would have helped, as the acidity was definitely there. It also could have been spicier. We left most of the broth.

                            Our total bill was $42, including tip.

                            I'd check out Sai Jai first before coming back here. I haven't been back to Thai House Express since the chef left, but in my memory, their cooking was better, and definitely spicier.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DezzerSF

                              I'm happy this place is getting some attention. After three visits, it's my favorite SF Thai restaurant, and compares well with some of the places I like in Thai Town Hollywood.

                              I agree, the whole spice level thing is usually a conundrum, because how can you really define medium? I have tried using a number (on a scale of 1-10), but typically find once a restaurant gets to know you, they can get the spiciness close to where I'm happy.

                              Should also note, I didn't like Sai Jai on my one visit, but THE has typically pleased my palette. Lers Ros Thai has a much better menu, in my opinion.

                            2. Patrica Unterman's review

                              Recommended dishes: fried quail, fried tofu, green curry, duck larb, beef salad, pork with crispy rind and basil leaves, house special frog, shaved ice with crystal chestnuts

                              Don't know why she didn't put the fish cakes in there since she started the review with it and wrote

                              "The fish cakes ($6.25), far from being boring, were plump, tender and succulent and they had plenty of character. Lushly seasoned with the kitchen’s house made chili paste and shredded kaffir lime leaves, the deep fried patties positively sang. Neither of us had tasted better"

                              The shaved ice with crstal chestnuts sounds interesting