The City of San Francisco is certainly a melting pot of flavors, with a reputation of having a heavy influence from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
Here are five restaurants that are well equipped to satisfy for your next Thai fix.
“My goal is to make good food from a good heart,” says chef/owner Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang of his lively Mission District dining destination. And Saengsawang’s food delivers all the spice from the Land of Smiles. “The menu is extensive, but the kitchen manages to prepare dishes with careful attention to detail, bold flavors and top quality ingredients,” say Michelin inspectors. Starters include samosas served with a coconut-curry sauce and house-marinated Wagyu beef jerky, while specialties feature Hat Yai fried chicken with turmeric and herbs, various curries and Thai street food dishes like pad prik king and pad Thai.
“Kin Khao's menu conjures up dishes from across Thailand and is a virtual homage to local purveyors,” say inspectors. Here, chef/proprietor and Bangkok-native Pim Techamuanvivit serves up traditional dishes from her homeland right in the heart of Union Square. Bites include spiced peanuts with puya and arbol chiles and makrut lime leaves, while curries include butternut squash panang and Khun Yai’s rabbit green. “Needless to say, those avoiding spicy food or craving plain old pad Thai should look elsewhere,” add inspectors.
This unassuming Thai restaurant in Foster City wants to “take your tastebuds on a ride to Thailand.” And that, they do; open for lunch and dinner daily, look for the usual suspects like five-spice duck spring rolls, tom yum goong, papaya salad and pad woonsen. “Though you may have to wait for a table, their signature kabocha pumpkin and beef in a flavorful red curry will merit patience,” add inspectors. And, word to the wise: “You can choose your own spice level here, but watch out—when this kitchen says hot, they're not kidding around.”
Danville locals in search of Thai food needn’t look further than the very charming Thai House, a cozy nook offering flavorful dishes. “Whether you’re dining alfresco or tucked inside the tiny, colorful bungalow, you can be assured of a warm welcome and boldly flavorful food—a secret that’s out with the locals, making this house a packed one from noon to night,” say Michelin inspectors of this Bib Gourmand. The menu covers the entirety of the country, including several classics like masaman and panang curries as well as larb gai. “The consistently outstanding menu makes it hard to go wrong,” add inspectors, "but you can't miss with the creamy red pumpkin curry, full of tender scallops, prawns and perfectly balanced notes of sweet, spicy, salty and sour."
Helmed by Bangkok natives Nanchaphon Laptanachai and Supasit Puttikaew, Funky Elephant offers up nuanced Thai cuisine in a fun atmosphere. "The menu is small but mighty, with items that exude a playful spirit," state inspectors. "Nowhere is this clearer than in the 'party wings, which sound like a good time but in fact have great depth of flavor." Other dishes highlighted on the menu include pad Thai "old skool," garlic pepper pork and grilled beef short ribs with coconut milk and turmeric glaze peanut sauce.
Hero image courtesy of Farmhouse Kitchen Thai.