Walk through the door and step into a colonial setting - without the slowly rotating ceiling fans - or a brightly-hued modern art set. It is just a few doors down from Mayes Oyster House on Polk near Bush Street and parking is easy.
If you order the Crispy Papaya Salad $7.95, you'll be delighted by the crunch of fried delight with a confetti of tomato, purple cabbage, carrot, purple beans, peanuts, on romaine lettuce. Follow this with the Curry of Roast Duck with Lychee and Cherry Tomato with fried basil leaves $13.95 - to delve into its silky rich flavor. To kick up the heat, we added the Ground Chicken with chopped preserved Chinese olive on rice $7.95 - these are addictive flavors, I woke this morning with a major craving for this dish. Only the brave should request it Thai spicy.
1247 Polk Street
San Francisco 94109-5543
No comparision to Lers Ros, Osha, or Sai Jai Thai. The decor is nice but why go if you've already got Lers Ros? I've been to Modern Thai twice, since I work near Van Ness and California. Have not been disappointed with Modern Thai at all, but nothing spectacular. Nothing different or unique about the place, similar to most other mediocre Thai places in the city.
Could this be one of those restaurants that do one dish just the way you like it? Is there a thread on "one-dish SF places" ? I would return to MT for their rice and chopped preserved olives - and my DH likes their deep-fried papaya salad; he grimaces if I order Tom Sum. This is also a "safe" destination when you have non-foodies in tow - to start with the ubiquitous coconut shrimp appetizer that I observed on several tables nearby.
When we returned to San Francisco in 1999, it seemed that Thai restaurants had sprouted on every block of the City and I lost my taste for the cuisine; perhaps because as you've noted a prevalence of "most other mediocre Thai places in the city" or my 1969 food memory of Bangkok prevailed - until I discovered the joys of Lers Ros Thai.
Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA
I had the fried pumpking appetizer at Modern Thai. Liked it so much I ordered a second app had it as a main course. The som tum was delicious. I was with my husband and two others, one a meat eater but not an adventurous Thai food sampler, the other a vegetarian and similarly timid about spice. They said the vegetarian rolls were good and so were the fried tofu appetizer and the barbecued pork. The only clunker was the pad kee maur. They ground the pork when I asked for it that way, but it wasn't browned enough to have developed flavor. I will say that the menu was not very eclectic but we wouldn't have tried anything weird on this trip.
I would return and have fried pumpkin appetizer and som tum for dinner. The staff was adorable.
What I remember of a trip to Thailand in 1968 was incredible giant shrimp/langostines/small lobster, fresh steamed. Oddly enough, nothing else.
We returned for a pleasant dinner last night: Fried Calamari appetizer $6.95, Seafood Salad $9.95, Ground Chicken with Preserved Olive on rice $7.95, MT Sundae $4.95, hot Thai tea $1, Chang beer $3.95
Fried Calamari; tender pieces of squid cut in big squares, lightly battered and absolutely greaseless, served with a sweet and sour sauce - this is a fried-food-lovers' delight
Seafood Salad; mussels, squid, and shrimp with basil and onion tossed with crisp romaine lettuce - tender crisp perfectly prepared seafood is refreshing and light
Ground Chicken with Preserved Olives on rice; garnished with lime and red bird chilies; this is my go-to dish - although this time it was light on the preserved olives and lacked its piquancy, I still enjoyed the comforting texture and its flavors - watch out for those HOT chilies, a bite or two or three is enough to scintillate your tastebuds
MT Sundae; ube and coconut ice creams, red beans, coconut jelly, toddy palm and jack fruit on the menu descriptive - whatever it is, it's a treat
Pleasant Night Out with DH
Parking note: easy on Monday night for street parking