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Berkeley Thai Recommendations?

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I've done some searching on this board and have not been able to pull up a "best Thai in Berkeley" type thread. Are my search skills that bad? Can anyone point me to a good thread, or should we maybe start one with this post? I'm looking for really good Thai in or very close to Berkeley. I saw Chai Thai was highly recommended in Oakland . . . anyone else have other suggestions?

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  1. Thai in Berkeley ain't great, but I have enjoyed a catfish with basil eggplant dish at Little Plearn in downtown Berkeley, as well as the pad kee mao and beef noodle soup (if you like a LOT of roasted garlic) at Thai Basil in the Asian Ghetto (on Durant east of Telegraph).

    If anything, Chai Thai Noodle down in the Little Saigon area of Oakland is probably my favourite Thai restaurant in the East Bay. The original chef at Thai House Express on Larkin apparently left there to start up this place. Great pork neck appetizer, wonderful khao ka moo. Mmmm.

    The Thai Temple on Sunday late morning/early afternoon (show up around 11) is fun too, but I'm not convinced that it's particularly GREAT. It's just got a good atmosphere.

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    Thai House Express
    901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Chai Thai Noodles
    545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

    5 Replies
    1. re: timeo

      Second on Chai Thai.

      The temple is fun in good weather but most of the food is nothing special.

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      Wat Mongkolratanaram (Thai Buddhist Temple)
      1911 Russell St, Berkeley, CA 94703

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thai Temple is a unique setting and for a good cause. But since it's outdoors and the plates are paper/compostable, your food gets cold fast.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Sadly the last couple times i have been to Chai Thai (within the last 3-4 months), have been absolute disappointments.

          The food has been oily, and shockingly tasteless (not talking of spice levels). When we asked for Thai spicy Som Tum, we got sweet with red pepper flakes :-( The menu looks different although it still has the khao ka moo. I will probably avoid it until I read some uphill reports.

          As for other places near Berkeley for Thai - if take-out is an option, I would highly recommend Ran Khanom Thai in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond. Homecooked meals that are truly spicy, funky, balanced whatever you are looking for. I have enjoyed the Kao Man Gai (Thai equivalent of Hainanese Chicken rice), couple of curries with rice and some excellent coconut desserts.

          See recent link at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/799284

        2. re: timeo

          I would avoid Thai Basil at all costs! It's fast-food Thai to me. Overly greasy, too salty. Most of the dishes I've ordered there came in a pool of oil. Good value for your money though (mostly for hungry students who want non-cafeteria food, fast!).

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          Thai Basil
          101 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

          1. re: timeo

            Thanks all for the suggestions . . . we wll be trying a few of these in the coming months!

          2. My absolute hands-down favorite is close to Berkeley in Albany on San Pablo @ Solano: It's Da Nang Krungthep Thai Cuisine, so there are some Vietnamese dishes as well as Thai. The restaurant looks like a shabby hole-in-the-wall from the outside and isn't slick on the inside either but the food is incredible. I like it better than Ruen Pair or any place I've eaten in SF. We always get the Vietnamese happiness crepe with the mostly Thai food we order as it's so delicious. The pad Thai is not too sweet or sticky like it is some places, the som tom just right and the tom yom spicy and the fried rolls are yummy and the pad key mauer is great (ask for it with the meat ground, the traditional way.) The place does a bang-up take out to locals but we always eat in as it's better straight from the stove. Again, Vietnamese dish, but the chicken soup with bok choi is divine.

            And the iced coffee is wonderful. The reason I often go at lunch. We've taken many parties of people there and they've always been impressed.

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            Ruen Pair
            1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            8 Replies
            1. re: rccola

              My favorite is Sabuy Sabuy II on San Pablo (just north of Gilman). Ask the owner or his son if either are there for suggestions and to put a menu together for you. Often we eat things that are not on the menu and never will be. The more adventurous you are, the more interesting it will be (depending on what they have in the kitchen). The spice level will be exactly what you want, too. None of this "Berkeley Spicy" (where hot means lukewarm). If they aren't there, you'll just have to order from the menu. I had to do that once. The house-made ice creams and sorbets are a nice surprise at the end of the meal - when they have them, they can be just about anything - broccoli and vanilla, spiced chocolate, durian, etc. A fun way to end the dinner.

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              Sabuy Sabuy II
              1233 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

              1. re: lmnopm

                yum i love sweets made with durian.

                1. re: lmnopm

                  This sounds like an absolute gem. Will have to try this some time. Is there a Sabuy Sabuy 1?

                  1. re: timeo

                    Sabuy Sabuy is on College Ave right where it hits Broadway

                    Edit: I can't get this link thing to work, but 5231 College Ave

                    1. re: drewskiSF

                      Links:

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                      Sabuy Sabuy II
                      1233 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                      Sabuy Sabuy Thai Cuisine
                      5231 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                      Sabuy Sabuy Jr.
                      1532 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Sabuy Sabuy Jr. didn't last very long. It was next to a super popular VN restaurant right across from City Hall.

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                        Sabuy Sabuy Jr.
                        1532 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601

                        City Hall Cafe
                        400 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  2. re: lmnopm

                    I'll have to try it again. Ate there once and was underwhelmed. (I don't like ice cream or sorbet)

                    1. re: rccola

                      It isn't always perfect (my first meal there was quite some time ago, and I had an acceptable lunch, but nothing memorable) and then,a couple years later, the first dinner was fantastic. On its worst day, it is better than the median "Berkeley" Thai food. On its best day, it really doesn't get any better in these parts.