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Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle in San Pablo, an offshoot of the diminutive Ran Kanom shop in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond, is now open, serving a nice selecton of noodle dishes (soups,stir fries, etc.), salads and snacks. The duck noodle soup I had was really good. A few pieces of bone-in braised duck, a small tangle of egg noodles, scallions and some star anise infused broth made for a rich, oily (hey, it's duck!) soup that was filling and affordable ($8.25...almost everything on the menu is $8.25).
Unlike the mall location there is plenty of seating in addition to a retail store selling take out items and Thai snacks. Friendly staff and parking out front. Open 7 days a week.

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle
2300 El Prortal Dr.
San Pablo CA 94806
510-255-7284
rankanom@gmail.com

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  1. Simple braised pork ribs and daikon? turnip? from the steam table really showed off the quality of the meat.

    Pad see-ew was an excellent version, some nice wok char on the noodles, nice barely cooked baby Chinese broccoli.

    Pad Thai was the most complex I've had. Nice chewy noodles.

    Boat noodles, dish #1 and billed as the house specialty, have a choice of meat and of noodles. Not having had it before I went with the server's recommendations and got beef with (thin) rice noodles. We had ordered the pad see-ew medium and the pad Thai spicy, and both came totally mild, so I ordered boat noodles extra spicy hoping to get a noticeable level of heat. It was the spiciest dish I've ever been served in a Thai restaurant (the only Thai dish I've had that was spicier was the Thai-spicy papaya salad at Wat Mongkolratanaram) and the third-hottest dish I've ever been served in any restaurant. The server said it was the spiciest thing the chef made all day. Maybe it doesn't matter how you order the other two, could be you're supposed to add condiments to your taste?

    Anyway, the boat noodles were fantastic. Really complex and flavorful broth, kang kung ("morning glory"), plenty of beef, some little bits of pork crackling. I'm not sure if there was blood in the broth, didn't know that was a traditional component until I read up on it this morning. The skinny rice noodles were good but I'd try something else next time. It was not too spicy for me but probably beyond the optimal level for the dish even if you have sky-high tolerance.

    I tasted a dessert of chunks of taro in tapioca topped with coconut cream. The pudding was barely sweet and the topping was quite salty. Very foreign.

    There are no drinks on the menu, but they have Singha. Some people at another table had wine and wine glasses.

    Great value. We also got a couple of takeout containers on the end-of-day $5 closeout, which is a ridiculous value.

    The setup was confusing, we sat down and ordered the pad Thai and pad see-ew from the menu, which had only noodles, before we realized that there was a steam table behind the low wall at the back of the dining room.

    My GPS took me to the wrong location. It's in the back of the College Center mall, past Noya, across from the supermarket.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      The people with wine was us! Think we have met before but don't remember seeing you last night.

      We also got lost trying to find it. I agree the setup was confusing. I assumed that the steam table was meant for people who wanted take out but it was not clear.

      I agree with you about the Pad Thai. It was the best I remember eating outside of Thailand. As I ate it I thought "this is what Pad Thai should taste like"

      The Khao Soi was very enjoyable also. We recently had Khao Soi at Kin Khao. The Kin Khao version was more refined and the Ran Kanom version is more rustic. Both are excellent. If I was forced to chose I would say I liked the Ran Kanom version slightly better.

      We also had #18. Keaw-Kai
      Stir-Fried Noodles with California garlic, pickled turnip, organic omega 3 egg, organic green lettuce, organic raw coconut sugar, soy sauce, sea salt. Black peppery tasting with toothsome wide flat noodles. I thought I detected a small amount of maggie sauce. We enjoyed it.

      We also sampled a dish one of our friends ordered but I am not exactly sure which one it was. It was good but not as good as the other noodle dishes.

      We finished the meal with Mango with sticky rice which was an outstanding and very satisfying version.

      They are still gets their bearings but maybe I will plan a Chowdown there in a couple of weeks.

      1. re: Ridge

        Do they sell wine?

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          No, we brought it with us.

          1. re: Ridge

            Did you bring the glasses as well?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              No. The glasses were theirs.

        2. re: Ridge

          Any comparisons with the khao soi from Chai Thai?

        3. re: Robert Lauriston

          I think that pad thai and see ewe are normally not hot, though you are always welcome to doctor it up. So when ordered spicy it may not make the most sense. In contrast, pad kee Mao and boat noodle are dishes which are meant to be spicy. In thai town LA I have given up on ordering spicy and stick to medium. Places here I know to be more receptive, including some of the oakland Lao places, I also stick to medium.

          I think the thin rice noodle "sen lek" or rice stick, is the most common type in this dish, based on my research ( I've not been to Thailand) but to be offered a choice is common. The other choice would be "wide, flat" or ho fun. Egg noodles do not make sense in this dish. Anyway, I am obsessed with boat noodle, and will have to make a point of getting up there soon. Current fave is Zen Yai in the Tenderloin, but mostly go to. Thai Noodle or Bangkok Noodle in Berkeley, Sawooei in ElCerrito. None of these are top tier, all too mild and without any acidity in the base. Thai noodle comes closest, Sawooei is a v. Good beef noodle soup on its own terms.

          1. re: twocents

            Made it up here a few times. Very promising, thai noodle dishes v. Similar to my Hollywood/San Fernando Valley favorites. Beef boat noodle excellent, I like that they have large and small size. Zen Yai in the Tenderloin may be slightly better due to broth complexity and meat/offal selection, but this is a close second. Balanced hot/sour flavones without adjustment. Chicken tom yum noodle v. Good, again close second to zen Yai. No other close version I know if in east bay/sf.

            Enjoyed the flavor and consistency of the kao soy "gravy" but could have been slightly thinner and more voluminous. The opposite problem of most bland soupy versions around here. Did not like the dry egg noodles. I can accept it as a garnish, but the bulk of the noodles were also quite dry.

            Packed leftovers from the steam table $5. Really like the morning glory with pork, in a sweet sour coconut milk sauce, slightly spicy. Jungle curry was good. Turmeric and pork stir fry also had good flavor but a little too salty for me.

            Store sells Thai lays potato chips. 4-5 flavors including (I think) nam prik pao. I think there's also nam kao flavor bu I'm not sure.

            Neither google maps nor apple maps could find it for me but it's in the same center as Sam Pablo Supermarket. Beware apple maps on this one.

            1. re: twocents

              We have been back a couple of times and it continues to improve. We went the weekend before last and the Khao soi was fabulous- even better than previous versions.

        4. We were there on Saturday night early. We didn't intend to stay but we did. We had Kaw Soi on soup side of the menu and # 16 on the noodle side, which was a beef and onion and other vegetable mix.. We thought # 16 (didn't remember the name) was mild and added some of the condiments. Very tasty. The Kaw Soi was suitably spicy. We also purchased dishes from the selection at the door.as well as the steam table.
          To Ridge. Were you the people that asked for a table of six when you came in? We were finished.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wally

            We were a party of 6 so it could have been us. I think we arrived around 7:00 or so.

          2. Tonight's dinner was khao soi with chicken, ordered spicy. It was mild, but there were condiment jars with pickled and dried chilies brought out with the soup, so I was able to increase the heat. Once I added the chilies and a squirt of lime juice to balance the soup's sweetness, it was perfect. The boiled egg noodles were bouncy and the fried noodles and fried wonton skin were fresh. I'll be back!

             
            1. I've gone a couple of times during prime lunch hours, and it is dead empty in there. How is it during dinner time? Is there a decent crowd?

              The boat noodle broth is pretty intense, a bit rich for my palate. Great pad thai though.

              1. We just made it out last Saturday night for dinner and saw that they had entirely revamped the menu and seating process and generally seemed to be more organized as a restaurant.

                A key change is that the menu has now been expanded from noodles and the steam table to:

                - Apps
                - Porridge plus side dishes (which had many intriguing items)
                - A few "rice plates" like kra pow and more
                - An "E-san" section which includes the papaya salads which were available but also intriguing items like 'Fried Organic Chicken Wing"

                The original menu with more in depth descriptions can be found here: http://www.rankanom.com/menu.html

                I took pics of the menu so y'all can check it out to your heart's content. (apologies for the glare, hard to snap a decent pic with so many overhead canister lights).

                In terms of feedback, I think the restaurant is a varied extension of the takeout joint at Ranch99 we all fell in love with. We always eat off the menu when we go vs. trying out the steamtable offerings (which we grab to go on our way out), and nearly all of the items we've tried have been intensely flavored a la Korean banchans, so that I found the rice porridge a welcome means of diluting the flavor.

                The first time there, we had the Nea-Subb (#20) which had the most meltingly tender rice noodles I've had aside from cheung fun freshly made and eaten on the streets of Chinatown topped with a supercharged curry infused pile of ground beef and a perfect fried egg. We had the same experience with the Spicy Basil kra pow dish (#55). Delicious but intensely intensely flavored; we ordered another rice porridge as a counterweight to all that flavor. Now imagine all that flavor in the form of fish, and that's what we got for Chinese Broccoli with Salted Fish porridge side dash (#42). I didn't even know that they made fish sauce that pungent -- it was like punch in the face of fishiness, but in a good way, spooned over a soothing bowl of bland rice.

                On the downside, the kitchen is still working out the kinks with courses making their way out when they can (the kitchen looks like a team of very cute Thai aunties cooking away so it's hard to hold this against them) but more importantly, the portions could more generous. Our Nea Subb had just a few bites of the amazing rice noodles, and our Pad Kee Mao had three bites of meat and a few more of the noodles. Prices are about average for a Thai place ($8-$12/item mostly), but it seems like just piling on a bit more rice or noodles would make the experience feel homier. Then again, maybe I'm just not used to Thai portions? We usually need to order 4 items between 2 people to feel like we've had a large meal

                Another change we noticed was that the service was a lot more polished than a couple of weeks ago and extremely friendly as our super adorable waitress politely guided us toward the right items on the menu when we hesitated.

                It's definitely a haul from Berkeley (20+ minutes), but I think we'll be back to explore the rest of the menu. I'd love to hear what others think of the menu expansion.

                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                1. We have had an opportunity to try several of the new menu items:

                  F. Crispy Rice with Nam Sausage

                  This was excellent. Toothsome and crunchy bits of rice with flavorful sausage. Very satisfying.

                  32.Larb : Minced Chichen or Pork Salad (pictured)

                  We tried the Pork. One of the best versions of larb I can remember eating. It was perfectly spiced, perfectly seasoned and delicious.

                  Rice Porridge With Side Dish.

                  Basically what it sounds like. We tried the combination with 3 sides. The side dishes were good but I am not sure they all paired well with the rice porridge. Our favorite was the crispy gourami fish salad. It seems like a good idea but is not as successful to me as other items on the menu.

                  For dessert they had durian with sticky rice. (Pictured). I am not a durian fan and the last time I tried something with Durian in Thailand I had to spit it out. Still, curiosity got the better of me and I asked to taste the durian with sticky rice. It was phenomenal! You could definitely taste the durian, it was not hidden. But it was transformed into something else somehow. We order some and were amazed how much we liked it.

                  We are having a chowdown there on Friday night. Information is on the East bay chowdown site:

                  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/e...

                   
                   
                  1. I noticed that there's a change of ownership application in the window. Different waitstaff this time, but I saw one of the same ladies in the back as on my previous visits.

                    Boat noodle still good, though maybe less strong herby-hot-sour than my last try.

                    I also noticed the new menu and look forward to trying additional dishes. The additional dishes make it more like my Hollywood favorites.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: twocents

                      The change of ownership is from Straw Hat Pizza, the former tenant, to Ran Kanom.

                    2. Some recommendations and photos in a review and blog post byJonathan Kauffman:

                      http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                      http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/bar...

                      1. had lunch there today ..... Thursday at 11:30 - only one or two other parties at first but as we left around 12:30 it was getting busier but not packed. very pleasant space. really enjoyed the 3 dishes we tried: generally assertive seasonings and good looking food. had the Boat Noodles with wide rice noodles and Niman Pork....great flavors - we split a small bowl and it turned out to be plenty for the two of us with our other dishes. had the Thai Green Papaya Salad - medium hot - and that was spicy enough for me but I have a delicate palate : ~ ) The pad Thai was tasty but not spicy .... glad to have a dish that was not spicy in the mix. I think I'd be quite happy with ordering mild here and adjusting at the table if necessary. Besides a sriracha sauce on the table they bring a quartet of seasonings to the table: one is pickled chili peppers, another is red pepper flakes, one looked like salt ? and the other was a dark thin sauce that I didn't try. The food is nicely presented and well seasoned. I look forward to going back ..... the service was friendly and efficient.

                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                        1. Just returned from lunch there with a party of 8, so we had a chance to try a lot of dishes. Almost everything was good, and most of it has already been reported on, so I will only mention some of the items we tried.

                          Pork rib soup with pickled mustard greens - this was excellent, very clean harmonious flavors

                          Bamboo salad - their version is heavy on sesame as opposed to rice powder, but excellent nonetheless. Appropriately spicy. I just wish I had some grilled meat to go with it, since it pairs best with sticky rice and grilled pork.

                          Fruit salad - a savory fruit salad is not easy for me to pull off, since the balance of flavors needs to be just right. I liked the flavoring but my biggest complaint is the poor variety of fruit. This was mostly apples and whole grapes, neither of which soak up the sauce very well. I would have liked to see a few other fruits thrown in to vary the texture. Watermelon would have been good because it has a more porous texture.

                          Crispy rice salad - when they told us they were out of sour sausage, we tried to cancel the dish. Unfortunately the server didn't understand so she brought us the dish without the sausage anyway. I was glad she did because it was excellent.

                          The biggest disappointment was the kao soi, which was just bland. The curry didn't have enough flavor.

                          Coconut balls stuffed with smoked sugar - these tasted right but the texture was too hard - which is too bad since texture is half the point of this dish.

                          I also noticed they sell crepes with angel hair. I had not seen this in the US before but it was definitely a fun street food to try when I was in Thailand.

                          In general the spice levels did not seem very high, but definitely varied depending on the dish even though I asked for medium spicy. For example, the bamboo salad was quite spicy but the fruit salad had very little spice. The jungle curry on the steam table was probably the spiciest of all the dishes, since it is not made to order.

                          Brought home some hot and sour pork rib, which I am thinking could be tom yum pork rib, and some mangosteen candy which doesn't taste anything like mangosteen.

                          1. I can only add to the praise the board has already given to Ran Kanom.
                            The only bad note was we were the only eaters over a long meal.Come on folks fill the place up.
                            The sour bamboo curry especially fantastic.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: wewwew

                              It's worth the trip.

                              1. re: Ridge

                                i think it is