Sabuy Sabuy, Oakland
Lots of recs for Sabuy Sabuy II in Berkeley, but not many mentions of the original on College at Broadway.
My parents recently moved to that neighborhood and Sabuy Sabuy is their new "local." I had dinner with my Dad there last night and I was surprised that it had some dishes I hadn't seen before.
We ordered the Soup Woonsen (ground pork and ground shrimp, glass vermicelli and Nappa cabbage in a clear broth). It was delicious -- well balanced to taste all the ingredients, which included spinach as well as cabbage, and both basil and cilantro. Not spicy (I didn't want it to be) -- apparently it's traditionally served as a cool counterpoint to spicier curries. I like that you can order "single servings" of the soups.
We asked for the panang beef "medium" and I was surprised by how hot it was. I would say this version was only a B-, but that was because I didn't actually want it that hot; this might be a good place to go all in on the heat, and I'd like to go back and try some other dishes that looked intriguing.
The place is tiny and a bit divey. The service is notably friendly and cheerful. Prices are low.
One of the best Thai meals I ever had (I've never been to Thailand, alas) was years ago at the original Sabuy Sabuy on College and Broadway. It had also been my 'local' as a good place to take the kids (back when I lived in that 'hood and when they were kids, which means perhaps 15 or 20 years ago...), but the wonderful meal was perhaps ten years ago: a co-worker of mine, who was originally from Thailand, was friends with the owner. She ordered a multi-course meal for a group of about 8 of us. Yes, spice level was much higher than we had ever experienced with the kids. It was all fantastic. Alas, too long ago to remember specifics...glad to hear that you had a good meal there. When the weather gets a bit nicer, there is (well, at least there was, last time I was there) a pleasant, small patio.
The original Sabuy Sabuy is in my neighborhood too.
And when Burt the owner was there all day and night it was fantastic.
I would have Burt make up what ever he thought would be good and it was always excellent.
Now Burt spends most of his time at Sabuy Sabuy 2 and the quality has dropped a bit at the original on College.
But it can still kick out some really great dishes.You just need to be a little more selective.
Plus there is free parking in the back that many do not know about.