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Jun 4, 2004 12:26 PM

Thai in San Diego?

  • e

I am writing this to ask local hounds what are their favorite Thai places in SD. I am writing this because I no longer spend enough time in San Diego to sample a range of restaurants in order to find my own favorites.

When I lived in PB, I was very fond of Karinya, and the last time I was there, I had an excellent whole fish. I have also had a good papaya salad there and decent curries--though their stir-fries have never much excited me.

Celadon has been much recommended on this board, and I did have an exquisite yellow curry there for lunch a while back. But more recently, I was there with a party of 6 and was underwhelmed. Someone ordered satay and it was pretty much like any other Thai restaurant's satay. The curry and the stir-fry I got to taste were pretty ordinary, and the flavor of the whole fish that I ordered was lost in the busy, almost sweet and sour sauce. It was like whole fish prepared for someone who didn't like fish. The service also seemed hurried, as if they were trying to serve us as quickly as possible to turn the table over. Don't get me wrong, the meal was not terrible, but I kept wondering--is this really the best Thai food in SD? In fact, the Lard Nar that I had on the same visit at Mae Rasy seemed more interesting than anything I tasted at Celadon that night.

So does anyone have other Thai favorites in town? Or should I give Celadon another chance?


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  1. Ed - Sorry not to answer in a more timely manner, it could be that Celadon may start going downhill....Alec Thao - the owner is opening a new new restaurant in the Gaslamp called Rama Thai, and that could be shifting alot of attention - not to mention staff away, too bad - for my tastes Celadon was always the most consisitent. As for whole fried fish - I just wait until I go to Vegas and LOS, or Thai food in general, LA and Renu Nakorn - though I haven't been there in a while.
    As for SD, it seems that Thai food reuns the gamut from mundane - Thai Chilies, to questionable - Thai House and the frozen peas and carrots in the dishes, to gringo - Taste of Thai, to decent - Celadon and Bai Yook. There's a poster named Curt, who is pretty knowledgable and may be able to help you. But if you go to Celadon again - ask if Alec is around...

    3 Replies
    1. re: KirkK

      OK. It may just have been an off night, or perhaps I ordered the wrong whole fish dish (though following the waitperson's suggestion). Where's Bai Yook?

      1. re: e.d.

        Well maybe they should get one more try.......please report your findings.
        Bai Yook is at 1260 University in the same strip mall as Ben & Jerry's - it's a real small place. Haven't had their fried fish - I mainly go for the Grilled Steak salad (Yum Nua). There's also another palce around the corner called Amarin Thai that I haven't had the chance to try yet.

      2. re: KirkK

        Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with San Diego's Thai eateries.

        Now, if you're looking for a good burger,............

      3. I have a friend who swears Amarin Thai is the best Thai food in San Diego. It's on Richmond Street off University.

        2 Replies
        1. re: phee

          Funny - we must have been posting at the same time. Will definitely drop by Amarin.

          1. re: phee

            Have to disagree strongly about Amarain Thai. The food is run-of the mill to below average. For example, the Tom Ka soup is dull, relying too much on the coconut milk but not much else. Pad see ewe is also dull; not nearly as flavorful as at many other places, such as Saffron and Celadon. Also, the rice noodles in the dish were substandard. Stir-fried eggplant was soupy and actually had very little eggplant. Even something as basic as the steamed jasmine rice doesn't have the same flavor as many other local restaurants. The mango with sticky rice has been a disappointment twice now -- and it's not easy to screw up that dish. The sticky rice was crusted over and actually cold. Other dishes were disappointing too, but you get the idea. They seem to be do well; it must be the location and the outdoor tables because there are many Thai restaurants in town with much better food. The service is bad too -- appetizers coming at the same time as main dishes, hard to get attention if you need something else, etc. Also, we were disappointed that the servers did not much knowledge for vegetarians on ingredients in the dishes. Other Thai restaurants do a much better job on that. All in all a consistently disappointing restaurant if you compare it to other places in the area. Convenient location if you live in the Uptown complex, though.

          2. Siam Basil in Encinitas (Hwy 101) near Encinitas Blvd. is our favorite Thai restaurant in San Diego. We have tried Celedon, Bai Yook and several other Thai restaurants in the area but feel the favors at Siam Basil is more fresh. Their Beef Penang and Pad Thai is pretty good. Please post your findings if you end up trying it out.

            1. We _really_ liked Kitima--406 University--a couple of doors down from the Chinese place with the big old neon sign. Lots of original dishes, great flavors.

              1. This post needs an update or two. Anyone care to give their favorite Thai recommendations for San Diego?
                Some years ago we had some really good Tom Kah Kai, curries, and Pad Thai at Royal Thai in the gaslamp quarter. I wonder how it is nowadays.