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Jan 31, 2011 02:42 PM

State of Thai in SD

I've read on here in a couple of threads now that the two Sab E Lee locations have declined dramatically. Does that leave anything worth eating as far as Thai goes in SD?

The wife and I went to Thai Grill today in Hillcrest, which was truly horrendous.

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  1. "Does that leave anything worth eating as far as Thai goes in SD?" - Not really. We tend to wait for our trips to Las Vegas and also want to try Jitlada in LA. For us it reminds us on the discussion here about Jewish delis in San Diego - yes, there are some in San Diego but nobody really wants to go there and people tend to wait until they can get to the once which are good.

    1. I thought the decline at Sab-e-lee was only at the Santee location. I have been to the Linda Vista location a few times recently and didn't notice anything dramatic but I also haven't explored the menu much lately either. The panang curry was a bit different but I wouldn't say it had declined.

      I do recall them using some cheaper/lower quality ingredients about a year back (obvious processed frozen vegetables). I also haven't had any fish entrees in over a year, for no particular reason.

      2405 Ulric Street, San Diego, CA 92111

      3 Replies
      1. re: MrKrispy

        I don't know who said the Linda Vista location declined, but I was the one that said the Santee location declined.

        I had visited the Linda Vista location the week before going to Santee and it was way better (part of why I said Santee had declined). As far as I know, the chefs at Linda Vista are still the same as the original before Koby and Co departed for Santee, so there is no decline there.

          1. re: karaethon

            Yeah, the chef at the LV location is the same chef who worked there when Koby was still there. However I thought that the food had gone down a noticeable bit, though that was only after a single return visit a couple of weeks ago.

            What I missed more than anything was to be able to just ask Koby to "make something different" for me, as he had an uncanny memory of what I've had on previous visits. It was a great way to explore their menu! I'd still eat there over anywhere else right now for Thai, but I'll just be making less frequent visits...

        1. Celadon has always been good and consistent, though it isn't as authentic as Sab E Lee. Very good curries especially green curry. They used to be more casual until they changed to a more upscale location, and priced accordingly.

          Celadon and Sab E Lee were the only regular places we went..have been trying to find others but no luck yet. Help chowhound!

          3 Replies
          1. re: royaljester

            Good to know about Celadon - we've been thinking of checking it out. Thanks.

            1. re: royaljester

              On the subject of Americanized Thai, Rama is Gaslamp is owned by the same owners of Celadon and it's better than most other options in that area. I haven't been to Celadon so I can't compare the two, but I didn't feel as grossly ripped off when I went to Rama as I did the other Gaslamp restaurants (unless you order alcohol and in that case prepare to feel ripped off).

              1. re: karaethon

                I used to go to Rama all the time - at least once a month, usually more (and sometimes Celadon). I really enjoyed it. However, I stopped after the service and the food went significantly down hill. My main problem was the the noodle dishes were almost always oversauced, so you couldn't even taste or feel the texture of the noodle, which was a bit gummy. The spice level was never consistent either, so a level 5 would be a 10 on one visit, a 5 on another visit, and 1 on another visit. I understand there is come variation between chefs, but there has got to be someway to normalize this. To their credit, they always did replace the dish when I sent it back for being too spicy. Unfortunately, I had a very bad service experience there a couple of years ago and I have not been back. Its alcohol options were also very odd. For wine, they had "red" or "white." I'm fine with having limited wine choices, but it did not seem in tune with the concept the restuarant was going for - downtown, upscale, eat dinner and stay for a drink kind of vibe (which I don't think they ever achieved). It thought the wine they did have was very overpriced, even for a downtown restaurant. A friend of mine just went and said you can now bring your own wine for a very cheap (or no) corkage fee. She also said the food improved, so it might be worthwhile to check it out yourself.

            2. Saffron has always been consistently good in my opinion

              3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

              2 Replies
              1. re: Davediego

                Disagree strongly with that. Last few times we went the food was a real mess.

                1. re: Davediego

                  Its consistent, and its tasty, but its pretty Americanized Thai.

                2. Love spicy noodles. Any suggestions?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Island

                    The best "new: Thai restaurant in my book is Siam Nara in Mira Mesa (Seafood City shopping plaza). While not as homey and authentic as Sab E Lee, Siam Nara offers a great overall Thai experience in terms of quality (deliciousness) of food, atmosphere and price (great value). My favorite dishes are the beef salad and curries. Desserts are wonderful too (mango sticky rice and homemade coconut icecream). However, I was slightly disappointed in the Drunken Noodles, which were not as flavorful as the other dishes. If they can correct that, Siam Nara will be topnotch.


                    1. re: Esqo

                      Looking at the menu and photos that looks like it's worth a try.

                      1. re: Esqo

                        We recently went to Siam Nara, and thought it quite good. We were told that the Chef's are from Issan, but there's only a couple of dishes representative of the region.... basically an Issan set menu which we haven't tried yet.
                        Huge menu, most dishes are designed for the American palate, but al least they weren't bland, and were executed well. Two of the fish dishes we had really stood out. I still need to try some other items on the menu.

                        As for Sab E Lee in Santee. I had lunch with friends there last weekend, and the food was up to par with what I had during my last meal there which was the Beer Week Dinner. Same Chef in the kitchen as Koby hired. There are a couple of items no longer on the menu, such as the Miang Kum, but they still made it when I asked.