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Outstanding Laotian/Thai in San Pablo

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I was searching Yelp one day for restaurants that deliver in my area -- sadly, completely unreliable -- and ran across Rose Garden Thai Cuisine, which doesn't deliver. But I'm overexpposed to the sweetishstyle at the very good Kao Sarn, and don't often trek down to Ruen Pair for more Laotian goodies. (BTW, I am not at all expert in recognizing regional styles of Thai cooking, but I do know delicious food when it comes my way.)

Well...Rose Garden is excellent! We ordered take out -- four selections, and every one was just superb. Unfortunately, this was three weeks ago, when I should have written this review with things fresh in my mind. But the papaya salad was the best I've ever had anywhere -- wonderful, succulent, ecstatic! Hot though -- they are serious about their spicing here, it seems very little toned-down for American palates. Other selections included a fabulous pork/eggplant concoction and a delicious fish soup. As I said, we asked for "spicy" and we got it. After 3 minutes I was sweating with each exquisite mouthful.

I was stunned by how good this chow is -- inexpensive and I would guess totally authentic. Maybe someone who really knows this cuisine can stop by Rose Garden and let me know if I'm mistaken?

It's in the 1600 block of 23rd Street, in a miserable little mini-mall that also has a Laotian/Thai market. I don't know about formal dining, though -- totally bares bones with no decor to mention. But for take out....sheer heaven! Oddly, they don't even have complimentary menus you can take home with you -- a bit annoying. I think this is a very recent immigrant family. I hope they wise up, as it will greatly increase their take out business.

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  1. Here's more on Rose Garden Thai
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611702

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    Rose Garden
    1811 23rd St, San Pablo, CA 94806

    1. I agree. Rose Garden serves authentic Lao papaya salad (very spicy), whereas most Thai restaurants serve Thai-style papaya salad that is catered to the American palate.

      By the way, Lao/Laotian cuisine is the cuisine of Laos and should not be classified as regional Thai cooking since Thailand is a separate country from Laos. However, there is a region in Thailand where Lao cuisine is still dominant, so this region (Issan) is more like an extension of the Lao cuisine in Laos. Laos has its own regional styles of Lao cuisine and Thailand also has its own regional styles of Thai cuisine as well. But at least one of the regions in Thailand serves Lao cuisine. Lao cuisine is eaten in Laos as well as neighboring Thailand.

      9 Replies
      1. re: yummyrice

        Thanks for that good info. Just reading the thread has made me ravenous. It's time to go back for more -- today. Man, I wish this restaurant was in Pt. Richmond!

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        Rose Garden Thai Cuisine
        1811 23rd St, San Pablo, CA 94806

        1. re: ptrichmondmike

          If you want to try more Lao foods, you should go across the street and down 1 block to That Luang Kitchen Lao Cuisine.

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          That Luang Kitchen Lao Cuisine
          1614 23rd St, San Pablo, CA

          1. re: yummyrice

            Agreed. Although I've only had their raw larb and gang keung nai (not sure how to spell that), which I thought was awesome. I'm Lao too, but live in SF, and have been on the hunt for good Lao food (because I miss my mother's cooking). There are two Thai restaurants in San Rafael (Bay Thai and Thai Smile) that are operated by some very nice Lao folks and the off-the-menu Lao dishes I've had are great. I shall post my reviews on another thread.

            1. re: mthongkh

              Sabaidee =)

              Rose Garden Thai & Lao Cuisine has some good dishes, but their menu is confusing to me. Though they have a section entitled "Laotian food", there's Lao dishes like "Khao Poon", "Khao Soy", "Pad Lao', papaya salad, etc.. that aren't listed in that section, but outside of it with the other menu items.

              Anyway, for authentic Lao foods I prefer going to That Luang Kitchen in San Pablo and Green Papaya Deli/Champ Garden/Vientian Cafe in Oakland, but I do enjoy the spicy Lao papaya salad at Rose Garden.

              Yes, That Luang Kitchen has an awesome Gaeng Keung Nai soup. The raw larb is delicious as well, but now I think I prefer the one at Green Papaya Deli.

              1. re: yummyrice

                Thanks for the recs, yummy....if there's something MORE authentic than Rose Garden, I can't wait to try it. All I know if that after my Rose Garden meal, my taste buds sang in glorious ecstasy for about three hours. When I remember the flavors, I shiver with delight. You don't get that with pizza...

                1. re: ptrichmondmike

                  You're welcome. By the way, Rose Garden serves Beer Lao now. Anyway, definitely check out Green Papaya Deli for some more tasty Lao dishes. I recommend their spicy long green bean salad with Lao sticky rice. You should also order fried fish or grilled chicken to go with the salad. I also enjoy their larb dish...it reminds me of Lao home cooking.

                  1. re: yummyrice

                    Just tried this place last Friday, what are the good rec's on the Laotian menu? None sounded that enticing so we chickend out and did the Thai instead, and it was AMAZING. Will be going back for sure.
                    Their mussamun curry is the best I have had in the bay area.

                    1. re: roster

                      Laotian dishes aren't limited to just that one section with the heading of Laotian foods. They're actually also mixed in with the other menu items on the menu including Thai and Chinese. That menu has a poor layout. Some Laotian dishes outside of the "Laotian section" are Khao Poon vermicelli soup, Pad Lao, and Khao Soi. There's also Chinese dishes like Lard Na and Pad See Ew, but I believe they're seasoned according to the Laotian palate rather than the Thai palate. Even their Thai dishes lean more towards the Laotian palate because the chef is Laotian. Laotian people don't like sweet foods.

                      I forgot to mention the Laotian Sausages. They're usually delicious no matter what restaurant I go to. Just order some sticky rice to eat with the sausages.

                      1. re: yummyrice

                        Thanks for the tip. I'll check these out.