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If you could go to only one Thai restaurant for dinner in San Francisco, where would you go?

Hi,
I lived in the Bay Area about 20 years ago, when Thai food was first becoming very popular. I have lived in both Thailand and in Arizona then Connecticut since leaving the Bay Area. If you were to recommend the best Thai restaurant in San Francisco, where would it be? I am particularly fond of Lao/Isan style Thai food (I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Udorn about 30 years ago), as well as regional Thai cuisine. But very authentic Thai is also great. Where would you recommend that I go?
Best,
Rich Richie
24 Bishop Street
New Haven, CT 06511

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  1. if you want Laotian, are you willing to travel to Oakland?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Hi, Sure if I can get there via a BART station? Are there some places that you would recommend that are accessible to BART? Sorry, I do have a car, and could certainly drive, but I am a bit of a woos.

      Best, Rich

      1. re: bannarak10

        The good Oakland Lao restaurants are not that accessible from BART, although you can walk from the Lake Merritt Station to Green Papaya Deli (Lao) and Chai Thai Noodles, solid Thai with a smattering of popular Oakland Lao dishes, like nham khao tod, Lao khao soi, somtam lao, khao piak, etc. Maybe 15 min walk? But perhaps not the best walk after dark if you are from outta town (and a self-described "woos" ; ) ), fine in the daytime. Both restaurants are on E. 14th (International Blvd), Green Papaya is at 2nd, and Chai Thai down at 6th. You can get serious jungle eats at Green Papaya, including roasted intestines with bitter bile sauce, and laap with raw meat (also with bile if so desired!), and they will make it properly spicy--pet mahk mahk!. Good folks at both places.
        chok dii

        www.chaithainoodle.com

        1. re: somtam

          Ah, you are talking about serious Lao Isan stuff now. Laap luat or at least laap dip dip? Khruang nai with nam di (actually there must be some other word for bile in Thai or Lao)? Always tastes better with some serious lao khao. Thanks for these suggestions. Next time I am in Berkeley visiting friends, I'll head down to Oakland for some serious Lao food. Hmm, I wonder if Flints Barbecue still exists on Shattuck? or was it Telegraph?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              What a bummer. I used to take the bus from work at UCB down Telegraph Avenue to about where the DMV is, and stop at Flint's along the way. It was always hard not to want to munch on the barbecue while riding the bus.

    2. If you have a car, then you should make your way to the Thai Buddhist temple in San Bruno for Sunday lunch cooked by the members. Mostly Issan style.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Ah, yes, now you are talking. I used to go to the Thai temple in Berkeley on Sunday for their somtam and leap. Nice idea. I may try doing that, as I am staying near the airport on Sunday night for a flight back home. Thanks.

        1. re: bannarak10

          The food at Wat Mongkolratanaram (Berkeley Thai temple) is mostly not great, though the papaya salad is one of the exceptions. The coconut chive rice cakes are too.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Oh, coconut chive rice cakes? Are they those yummy, squishy khanom khrok sort of pudding like cakes that are cooked in something like an abelskiver (can't spell either) pan? Sort of a cast iron pan with small circular indentations in it?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yeah, a bit too much description on my end. Nice thing to eat first thing in the morning with a nice cup of thai hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              The sticky rice with mango at Thai Temple in Berkeley is good too! Papaya salad + coconut chive rice cakes + mango w/ sticky rice = awesome brunch!

            2. re: bannarak10

              The San Bruno wat has northern style laap with all the pork innards mixed to order in front of your eyes.

              Wish you were here this weekend as we're having a chowdown on Saturday at the Lao Buddhist temple in Santa Rosa. There's a fundraiser food sale to observe Boun Prawad. Here's the report of Lao new year festivities last month,
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844169

            3. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks for this tip....I want to try the San Bruno temple's food! What are your favorite things to get? And what is Issan style?

              1. re: Dave MP

                These old threads tell the tale better than I could. San Bruno has kanom krok now, which was the only reason to cross the bridge to go to the Berkeley temple. Everything else is superior in San Bruno, as of my last visit to Berkeley which admittedly was a few years ago.

                My first visit to the San Bruno Thai Temple in 2003 -
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/24708

                My most recent visit to Wat Buddhapradeep in 2010 -
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/682029

                Lao/Isan discussion
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/301115

                Looks like we're long overdue for another chowdown at the San Bruno wat. Maybe we should schedule one when Rich "bannarak10" is here.

            4. In SF, try Lers Ros in the Tenderloin, on Larkin bet. Ellis & O'Farrell, close to Civic Center BART. The only place I've been to outside of the tropical kingdom where you can get nam prik kapi with salted mackerel. Has stellar whole fried fish and assorted game meats: alligator, rabbit, wild boar. One of my favorite Thai joints in SF.
              www.lersros.com

              5 Replies
              1. re: somtam

                Lers Ros has been the best Thai in town, but there have been some reports of inconsistency since they opened the second location.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I just saw on the Lers Ros site their second spot. Haven't been in the Larkin location for some time, maybe 5 months?

                  Another one in SF that comes highly recommended by a friend who knows his stuff is Amphawa, on Geary at 14th Ave. Need to get over to give it a go soon. Hoi tod is said to be very good, kuay jubb as well

                  www.amphawathai.com

                  1. re: somtam

                    Thanks for posting about Amphawa, which appears to have replaced Chiang Mai, though someone on Y*** said it is the same owners. No mentions of it as yet on CH but overall online reports seem quite positive. The menu looks interesting with pork shoulder and pork belly dishes. Perhaps some competition for Lers Ros on my next trip?

                    1. re: somtam

                      I'm curious about Amphawa...I think it never actually changed owners, but simply overhauled the decor to compete with Be My Guest on Clement and changed its name (was formerly Chiang Mai). Very few reports here. Interested in hearing your report.

                  2. re: somtam

                    had a fabulous meal at Lers Ros The Original Location this evening. We almost ordered a second plate of the fish cakes, they were so flavorful.

                  3. I've been meaning to go to Chabaa for a while. Would anyone consider any of their dishes as superior to what's already been mentioned in this thread?