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Aug 8, 2014 04:32 PM

Help a pressed for time NY Hound find the Asian food of her dreams?

Hi, will be in SF soon and am on the hunt for some Cambodian (please say there are still Cambodian restaurants there, there are none in NY), Thai and Chinese restaurants that will knock my socks off. Former Berkeleyan, know the City and the East Bay well, willing to travel...thanks for any and all suggestions.

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  1. The only Cambodian I know is down in Mountain View at Tommy Thai's (I know the name sounds suspicious, but it's pretty good).

    Kin Khao for unique Thai. Lers Ros for a more general menu.

    Chinese: Yank Sing for Dim Sum, R & G for Cantonese, Y & Z for Sichuan maybe Shanghai Dumpling King.

    1. Cambodian picks would be Battambang in Oakland and Angkor Borei in SF with the caveat that I've not been to either in several years.

      1. Greetings buttertart! Long time since the cordial Sichuanese cookbook and linguistics discussions.

        As goldangl95 mentioned, a variety of Cambodian food is available 35 miles south of SF at Tommy Thai near downtown Mountain View (the restaurant also presents a Thai menu, for understandable business reasons -- the same reasons all the regional Chinese restaurants also offer General Tso's Chicken and mu shu rou). The Thai dishes command an explicit section on the menu, and make lively use of many fresh vegetables.

        The same local Cambodian-immigrant family (Poon) first started a Bay-Area Chinese fast-food chain years ago (Mr. Chau's) which was successful with the mass market. More recently, they opened "Tommy Thai," a pragmatic name derived from the name of another, former restaurant at the same address. (A few months back a son, Brandon Poon, also opened a casual restaurant "Buffalo" in downtown MV proper, a mile or so from Tommy Thai, with the sort of menu typical of some recent Bay-Area casual-dining independents: beer, baos of various kinds, and burgers, including with Asian-ingredient garnish options.)

        7 Replies
        1. re: eatzalot

          Champa Garden Oakland or SF for Cambodian/Thai/Lao food.

          1. re: tingr

            The Laotian dishes are the ones to get at Champa Garden. The Thai dishes I've had were mediocre, kind of like the Chinese and Indian dishes at Burma Superstar and Mandalay.

            Isn't there a new Laotian place in SF that has been getting good reports?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Was it this place, Robert? If so, I liked it very well in April.

                1. re: kungful

                  Vientian was our favourite (have been four or five times, including a couple chowdowns) until we tried Maneelap. I wouldn't turn down Vientian but I think I'd like to do a return visit to Maneelap first. Marginally easier to get to if that matters for the OP.

            2. re: eatzalot

              Besides saying Tommy Thai is actually good, which it is, let me clue you in on their "heat scale" (something I detest at these kinds of restaurants. I greatly prefer Night+Market in LA, which says on the menu "we cook each dish as it is prepared. We don't take special orders. If you don't like spicy food, ask your waitperson, and they will directly you to less spicy dishes. Would more restaurants did that.).

              At TT,

              10 means "cook like you mean it". Do not be afraid to order 10, but you might get your face blown off (which that regional food should do).

              8 means "turn it down a little but give me serious kick"

              6 means "barely tasting any kick"

              4 means "bland".

              I had this tasting at TT where we had a company lunch there (one of the bangalore guys chose it), and I had a chance to sample several dishes at several settings.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Excellent guide, bbulkow.

                I noticed also there how distinct was the Cambodian cuisine from Thai. Cambodia has a much older culture, I understand, and some culinary connections to Indonesia.

                This influence was evident at Tommy Thai even in the restaurant's versions of some standard Thai dishes, where unfamiliar elements like black pepper could appear.

                (I too wish restaurants would just stick to the proper heat levels for the dish -- and also, drop that newfangled BS about last-minute "choice of proteins" in dishes that if done right, were simmered for hours with one "choice of protein" -- but I also dislike decent restaurants going out of business, to which I guess some dumbing-down of cuisine is the preferable, if imperfect, alternative.)

            3. Popup Cafe hosted some Cambodian soup ladies early on. They're not very savvy there about using social media to inform people what's going on, so the only way to find out if they are back in rotation is to walk by or call them up.


              1. Angkor Borei (in La Lengua, .8 miles south of 24th and Mission) : I had the prahok and ahmohk last Sunday, and they're consistently good. It would be worth reading through some old threads for tips... they don't give many non-English names on the menu, and its tough to figure out what's cooked differently than stuff at Thai or Vietnamese places.

                Battambang : I had a meal last year here that wowed me. I revisited many of the same dishes this past May and had good stuff, but the flavors weren't as bold.

                3 Replies
                1. re: hyperbowler

                  er, 8 BLOCKS south of 24th and Mission?

                  1. re: soupçon

                    My bad.... it's 1.1 miles. (Bonus tip: if you go for lunch, grab some Portuguese snacks at Cafe st. Jorge across the street)

                  2. re: hyperbowler

                    The great thing about Battambang is that it's a short walk from the 12th street BART station, which makes it more convenient to downtown SF than many parts of the City.