Thai in San Mateo?
I live in San Mateo and am looking for good Thai food. Since I live near downtown, I've been to Thai Satay and Bow Thai. I gave them each three tries about a year or two ago and decided neither are worth eating at (though the former is definitely better than the latter).
Reviews from three years ago endorsed Nipa-Pon. However, I looked in it on a recent evening at 7:30pm and, although it was open, there wasn't a soul inside (nor, say, a pile of take-out boxes waiting to be picked up). That makes me highly skeptical. Anyone have a recent experience?
Other similarly old reviews, endorsed Chao Praya. Anyone have an opinion on this place too?
Are there other Thai places I should be considering?
Just had dinner at Thai Time in San Carlos and it was one of the worst Thai meals in my life. All the food was one-dimension. Tom Kha Kai was essentially heated coconut milk with vegetables and very chicken thrown in at the last minute. One of our dishes had beef in it that was so tough it really was like beef jerky. We will never return. Don't go unless you love cocktails and don't care if the food is terrible after a few drinks.
I eat at this place about once a month and have never had such an experience. The food has never been "terrible" - although it's certainly not a destination, more like a neighborhood joint. I have never had second rate meat. Yes, I've been to thailand multiple times. An example of a dish I love is their Choo Chee Salmon. I will report if they are suddenly downhill.
Regarding MikeyJr's other post, I thought the reply there said it all. Thai food on the peninsula is weak, and there are no destinations - and all are pretty uneven.
I recently tried Jason's Cafe in Menlo Park, which, it turns out, has unusual chinese and malasian dishes as well as "american favorites". That was one of the worst meals I've had. The roti bread was edible but odd as it was all one piece like a huge deep fried hankerchief instead of folded over and over. The dipping sauce was a little thin and oily but not terrible. The "cumin lamb" was unlike cumin lamb I've had elsewhere - a weird green cumin-ish sauce and very, very gamey and gristly lamb. I did not eat it all, and I walked in very hungry. I feel I really took a bullet there - I feel faintly scarred by that lamb. I might write off the lamb problem as a one-off, but the roti gives me no confidence to try again.
I used to live in Millbrae and at some point we determined that Thai Satay was our favorite Thai restaurant in the area. I went back after two years last Halloween and it wasn't as good as I remembered. Still worth a visit though.
I like Nip-a-pon's pineapple curry chicken but their prices tend to run higher.
Other options: Thai Stick in Millbrae (open past midnight). The basil beef with green beans special is a must order there. Despite many attempts I haven't found another dish I'd order again.
Sirayvah (be prepared to spend upwards of $14 an entree) is really good. There's also Narin in Burlingame.
Thai Satay in San Mateo – Great Curries and Egg Rolls But Don’t Get Busted by the F.B.I.!
Here's my list with detailed reviews of all the Thai restaurant in the Bay Area:
A Thai-Phoon of Thai
Narin Thai Cuisine
231 Park Rd, Burlingame, CA 94010
Thai Stick Restaurant
301 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
Thai Satay Restaurant
173 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
121 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403
I wouldn't go to Thai Stick again. I was there recently on a weekday and service was almost non-existant except to bring the food. Took at least 15 minutes to get the server to take the order. The place wasn't even busy---only two other occupied tables. Ordered beer but it never came until I told another server to bring it after we'd already finished the appetizers.
As for the food, two of the three dishes were decent, but the third one (Pad Kee Mao) was bland and had the lowest grade of tough beef. I'd drive a bit further out to find a better Thai restaurant.
We often go to Thai Stick. Partly because it's open late. But we also have some favorite dishes. the Thai barbecue chicken, which we get with ginger rice. The shrimp salad, whose dressing is great.
You're right that the service is terrible. It's a bit better than it used to be (maybe they are starting to recognize us?), but it's always been bad.
I tried Nipa-Pon a few months ago - nothing stood out to me, and I recall thinking Bow Thai tasted better overall (and that's not saying much, as Bow Thai is average at best). Chao Praya is a notch better than Bow Thai and Nipa-Pon, in my opinion, but just a notch. I prefer to make the drive to Bangkok Bay in Redwood City or Sweet Basil in Foster City.
Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
1457 Beach Park Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404
Bangkok Bay Thai Cuisine
825 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063
I've eaten at nipa-pon frequently and recently (within the last few months, for sure). It's a well-travelled lunch spot - I've never been there for dinner myself. It's pretty tasty to me, nothing outstanding but very solid, give it a try yourself.
Next closest thai that I like is Thai Time in san carlos. Haven't been to Chao Praya.
What I like about nipa-pon for lunch is they can be coerced into making their food actually spicy. The pumpkin curry's pretty fly, although usually I just go with the standard spicy basil or green curry. I agree it's not that great - but a servicable casual lunch spot.
The two shanghai places within a block (shanghai east and the other one...) are where I usually end up. Excellent XLB at both, and many other dishes.
Friend of mine ate lunch at nipa-pon yesterday and claimed he was "schooled" by the spices. That somehow they had changed up the spice mix, and he got something that was over the top for him. Tasted medium for the first few bites then built to an overwhelming pain level. Hard to calibrate, I know, but he and I like anything about as spicy as can be found. I hope the kitchen staff was snickering.
Today we ate at Thai Basil in Berkeley on Solano. We both ordered the Pad Kee Mao, very spicy, and it was tasty but not actually hot. Decent prep - lots of tomatoes, good quality beef. The lady brought a big thing of red death peppers on the side as an apology, which I typically don't add because it's not as good as cooked-in spice, but I added about two tablespoons anyway. Then it at least had a kick.