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authentic non-Americanized Thai food in the east bay?

  • r

I haven’t found a particularly recent thread on this topic and was wondering about Thai food options in the east bay. We used to go to Ruan Pair quite a bit and usually liked the food. We like Lers Ros but don’t like the schlep across the bridge. What are the best options for authentic non-Americanized Thai food in and around the east bay?

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  1. Your Place on University at Acton?

    1. You might try Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland or looking at some of the Thai/Lao places, like Green Papaya Deli or Champa Garden.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler


        Second on Chai Thai. The chef used to work at Thai House Express and the menu's almost identical. Might have gone downhill in the past year. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/534933

        Soi 4. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/361032

        I like the Lao dishes at Champa Garden but the Thai dishes are too Americanized for my taste.

      2. Vientiane in Oakland? Oops, may be more Lao.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Stephanie Wong

          Sabuy Sabuy II on San Pablo Ave. Ask Bert (owner) or Cocoa (his son) to put together a menu for you - tell them what you like, don't like, and you will end up a great meal. (This is for dinner time only)

          1. re: lmnopm

            We had been to Sabuy Sabuy II previously and liked but we had forgotten about it. We took the advice of lmnopm and went to Sabuy Sabuy II last night and had the chef bring us his choice. It was excellent. The food was authentic tasting and bursting with bold Thai flavors. The spice level was perfect for us. We told the chef we like spicy food.

            Here is what we ate:

            Kind of a Thai surf clam ceviche. The sweet morsels of clam were served in a clam shell on top of vermicelli. One of the most memorable things I have eaten all year. Redolent of kefir lime and lemongrass which paired perfectly with the sweet clam. Out of this world delicious!!!

            fried Duck spring rolls. I have to admit I am not the biggest eggroll fan. But these were not your typical spring rolls. Flavorful and non greasy. Very good to excellent.

            Calamari salad. Sweet spicy savory sauce, lots of garlic, crunchy calamari tentacles. Delicious.

            Tom Ka Gai. A warm and comforting version. Was made with trumpet or oyster mushrooms which were creamy and elevated the dish. Excellent.

            Grilled Yellowtail with spicy relish. Excellent. My only criticism is that it could have been a tad bit more rare but it was excellent nonetheless.

            Strawberry ginger lemon sorbet and pumpkin ice-cream. The sorbet was bursting with satisfying strawberry and citrus flavor and the pumpkin was creamy and delicious.

            We will definitely be back soon and have the chef’s choice.

            1. re: Ridge

              Sabuy Sabuy "Bert" is Awesome!

              I wish he spent more time over at the Rockridge Branch.

              It was fantastic when it was his only restaurant and he was there every nite.

              I still think about his sublime buffet he had where all the proceeds went to the 9-11 victims families.

              A great chef and a really super nice person.

        2. I think we need to make a movement asking restaurant owners to just make it thai style, don't ask me "how hot". That being said, I don't know any authentic thai in the east bay, so sorry.

          1. Neecha Thai in the Grand Lake area of Oakland is my favorite Thai in the East Bay. The vegetarian options, in particular, are awesome. It is all authentic recipes from the proprietor's late grandmother.

            1. Mostly take out but Ran Khanom Thai in the Pacific Square (99 Ranch) Mall has a good variety of things I've only seen in Thailand. All organic to boot.

              1. Went to Racha Cafe in Berkeley the other night in hopes that the food might be like what we used to get at the long-gone Racha in SF (second Thai place in the City). The Berkeley place was originally owned by the same people, but looking at their liquor license history it changed hands in 2006.

                Squid salad was excellent and much like the old days. Very spicy without a word said about it, good complex seasoning. Racha used to make a mushroom version, too bad they don't have that.

                Pad prik khing (green beans and pork in a dry curry) was also very good, though the little place in Pacific East Mall does a better version. I'd ask for spicier next time.

                Pra ram loong soong was mixed vegetables instead of spinach, could almost have passed for gado gado. The peanut sauce is a bit sweet but that's traditional.

                Pad thai was OK, wouldn't order again. Next time I'll try pad seew, that was always my standard order.

                Low prices and large portions. I think this is the kind of place where you could eat really well once you figure out which dishes they do best.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I have to give a strong recommendation to the little takeout place in the Pacific East Mall. We have been getting stuff from there and it's excellent. And some of it is quite adventurous. Last time we got water bug chile condiment. I forget the name in Thai. The flavor of the water bugs is very intense. It has an intense musky sweet and perfumy aroma and flavor. Never tasted anything like it, though I have to admit its not my favorite thing. Curry with morning glory and pork belly was amazing.

                  1. re: Ridge

                    Here is more information about the place:

                    Ran Kanom Thai
                    3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA


                    1. re: Ridge

                      This little place in the Pacific East Mall is fabulous.

                      1. re: Ridge

                        Mangda. When I asked what was in it, I thought the woman said "bark" but I think she said "bug".

                        1. re: rubadubgdub

                          yes, that's right. Have you tried it? Very unusual. Tonight we tried a dessert from there. Sweet sticky rice with turmeric, shrimp, coconut, palm sugar and other stuff. It was so excellent! I was skeptical because I am not always the biggest fan of Asian desserts and it sounded very out there. But it was perfect. Very complex tasting and not overly sweet.

                          1. re: Ridge

                            Yes, very perfumey. I still haven't figured out what it would be best with. They will give you a little sample of the different housemade chili pastes if you want to try before you buy. I really want to like the desserts but most lack the glutinous quality that I really love in Asian desserts, but the sticky rice may be just the thing.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        For a little hole in the wall with very authentic Thai food I strongly recommend Old Weang Ping.
                        If you go there, be sure to call the phone number on the door to be let it. The place will look closed, but the owner keeps the door locked and you have to call to have him open the door.
                        It's just the owner and his wife, and they're getting a bit old, so service can be a bit slow sometimes, but well worth waiting.

                        Old Weang Ping
                        6217 MacArthur Boulevard
                        Oakland, CA 94605
                        (510) 430-8771

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That thread has only one negative review, how is that "pretty mixed"?

                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                              The positive reports are four years old, the only recent one is strongly negative. Could have been just an off night.

                          2. re: kungful

                            I've only been once and I wouldn't send anyone there. It was the funkiest meal. It's food you might eat at your relative's house who isn't a good cook but really wants to make a meal for you. I'd honestly question the "authentic" part too. It tasted nothing like food we had in Thailand or other good Thai restaurants. It felt very much like the cook was in his own head; kind of like if you opened an Italian restaurant and made sloppy joe sauce but called it bolognese. The Yelp reviews make it sound as if it's in a magical treehouse but it's merely a converted house with lots of plants in the courtyard in a sketch part of East Oakland. We walked right in; I don't recall the door being locked. That said, I didn't fear for my life, I just wasn't as charmed as I thought I would be.

                        1. Sticky Rice in Oakland is pretty good

                          2810 International Ave
                          Oakland, CA 94601

                          Oh, found a thread on it here:


                          1. Tried Your Place.

                            Fresh shrimp rolls were excellent. Good quality ingredients, complex sweet-sour-spicy-fishy dipping sauce.

                            Crispy shitake, eggplant, and tofu appetizer from the specials menu was very good. Never had anything like that.

                            Pumpkin curry from the specials menu, kind of bland and it was kabocha, which I don't care for.

                            Green curry with pork, some good flavors so long as I used a spoon to get some of the thin sauce.

                            Pad thai, good texture, passable once it was doctored with some peanuts and dried chile.

                            1. Great Question!

                              My favorite too was Ruen Pair and I do love Lers Ros. That pork belly dish is heaven... But I digress. I like Old Weng Peng in Oakland, Chai Thai Noodles in good too as is the Deli down the street on International.

                              But lately my go-to place for Thai is
                              Roong Jing Jing a tiny Thai market in El Cerrito. On Saturday and Sunday they stock lots of dishes made Thai style . Some are incendiary and some are just funky. But some have really hit the spot if you're looking for the non-Americanized taste of mouth tingling, mind altering Thai food.

                              Oh, and Champa on San Pablo Dam Rd in El Sobrante I think is worth a visit. I went once, had their Rice Ball salad. Wow. Better than Vientiane Cafe's I think. They aren't strictly Thai but also Lao and Vietnamese but that salad showed me they have some serious chops!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: billsay

                                Is Yelp right that Roong Jing Jing is open 10am-10pm seven days a week?