Category Archives: Thai

Final Food Adventures in San Francisco

As it turns out, I ended up postponing my food exploration to non-touristy areas in San Francisco to my last few weeks in the Bay Area. After my finals, I got the chance to explore some Vietnamese / Thai food in Tenderloin as well as some popular eateries at Richmond / Sunset.

I have always heard things about Tenderloin – about how I should avoid accidentally walking into Tenderloin, especially in the evenings, because of safety reasons. After finding out that Little Saigon was in Tenderloin, I simply thought to myself that I had to check out this place at least once. I have also never had banh mi before so I thought, why not? My friend and I went to Saigon Sandwich, a small place where you can supposedly find the best banh mi in San Francisco.

Roast Pork Banh Mi @ Saigon Sandwich, Tenderloin, SF

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This is evidently a go-to lunch place for a lot of people working in the area. I’m not surprised, considering how you only need to spend $3.75 to fill yourself up – a steal in the city. My friend and I shared a roast pork banh mi and it was really delicious. I liked the baguette, the crunchy carrots and not to mention their sauce! Unfortunately, our eating experience was interrupted by a scary looking homeless person who kept knocking on the glass window we were sitting by. He was quite relentless and I was honestly scared but after awhile he left to bother some other customers waiting in line…

We then hopped to a Thai restaurant that Felicia absolutely loves called Zen Yai Thai. She had been evangelizing their mini boat noodles and after trying them, I don’t blame here for it. Their tom yum broth was pretty amazing and I also really enjoyed the broth in the our second boat noodle, which supposedly is made from curdled blood.

Tom Yum Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF

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Beef (or Pork?) Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF

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Excellent broth and noodles for $2.50 each and as Felicia recommended, get many different combos of boat noodles to share with your friends.

I got to try more Chinese food in the Richmond and Sunset area – more notably, Shanghai Dumpling King and San Tung Chicken Restaurant. Shanghai Dumpling King is kind of known for their xiao long baos (soup dumplings) but unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. I was initially a little put off by how red and raw the meat filling looked but it ended up tasting fine. However, I thought it didn’t have very much soup at all. Perhaps I was unlucky enough to get a mediocre batch of xiao long baos.

San Tung  Chicken Restaurant, on the contrary, lived up to my expectations. My friends and I had their shrimp and leek dumplings, sauteed Chinese long beans, and of course, their popular dry fried chicken wings. All of them were really great but too bad I was too hungry to even remember to take pictures before we devoured the food.



Oodles of Noodles

 I am absolutely a fan of noodles and there are days when I crave saucy, thick Asian noodles that aren’t like your greasy chow mein take out. One of the places in Berkeley that I know has pretty good noodles is Noodle Theory.

Upon stepping in, you’ll realize that this establishment caters to a different kind of crowd that you typically see in restaurants close to college – more mature, professional adults and more non-Asians than you would expect from an Asian noodle restaurant. This is probably because the food here errs on the side of fusion more than authentic Asian.

Pan Seared Duck Breast over Noodle in Spicy Red Curry

If there is one thing that Noodle Theory does pretty well, it is the sauces and soup that come with the noodles. My friend ordered a bowl of thick noodles with kimchi sauce – the special of the day – and I thought it was really good. I actually liked it more than my pan seared duck noodle in thai red curry, which after a while felt too rich. I’ve also had their other food items like spicy pork ramen in peanut lime broth – great, flavourful broth but a-okay ramen noodle. I guess I had expected the Japanese type of noodle instead of the ones that come out of a Korean ramen packet.

Despite my dissatisfaction with the ramen noodle, I do like the sauces and broth in this place and I have made multiple visits to this place to experiment with the different items in their menu. This is the place to go if you are craving noodles but fancy something different and more upscale than your typical Thai or Chinese restaurant, and also if you are feeling a little more generous with your money.

Berkeley Thai Temple

Yet another favourite weekend brunch spot.

The Berkeley Thai Temple down in Ashby sells authentic, delicious Thai food every Sunday morning in an effort to raise money to keep their temple running if I am not mistaken. Here, customers buy tokens which they can then use to buy food at various stalls — how many tokens they give is completely up to their discretion but every stall puts up suggested token donations for various types of food.

I had their Yellow Chicken Curry the last few times I was here and I love the richness of the curry which is reminiscent of Malay chicken curry. As awesome as their chicken curry is, first place goes out to the temple’s mango sticky rice which is simply incredible. Unfortunately, I started devouring it before I remembered taking a picture but that is okay because there WILL be a next time.

Yellow Chicken Curry @ Wat Mongkolratanaram, South Berkeley

Yellow Chicken Curry

Thai Tempations

This weekend, I had insatiable cravings for Pad Thai and Mango & Sticky Rice Pudding. Took a small leap of faith and decided to go to Gecko Gecko, a Thai / Californian restaurant on Milvia street that is unheard of by college students but highly rated on Yelp.

One step into the restaurant and I immediately felt out of place because

1) For once in Berkeley, my ethnicity rendered me a minority.

2) I am not over forty.

Despite that, I gave this place a shot to see what this Thai- California eatery has to offer. I ordered the Country Pad Thai, which is your regular Pad Thai with chilli-garlic sauce, and mango walnut fried rice.

The Country Pad Thai was pretty good and I liked the sauce that came with it. The Mango & Walnut Fried Rice was good too, but I still prefer the regular pineapple and cashew nut fried rice.

As good as the Pad Thai was, I am hesitant to praise Gecko Gecko because of their abysmal service; it took an hour for the food to get on our table, excluding the waiting time to get a table. I was also disappointed that they did not have the mango and sticky rice pudding that I was craving for. I decided to sleep on it, hoping that I would forget about it the next day.

Alas, it did not happen. And I found myself craving some more Pad Thai.

My temporary obsession for Thai food drove me to Pin Toh, where I ordered regular Pad Thai and the much coveted Mango & Sticky Rice Pudding! Surprisingly enough, this trip to Pin Toh marked the first time I had dinner to go this semester, and it felt really good to gorge myself on carry-out food while watching Grey’s Anatomy lazily in the comforts of my apartment.

I found myself missing the chilli-garlic sauce from Gecko Gecko, which my bottle of Sriracha could not make up for. That aside, the Pad Thai was decent. I thought the Mango Sticky Rice Pudding was just okay – it was pretty expensive for what it was and could not compare to the Mango Sticky Rice at Berkeley’s Thai Temple on Sundays (duh, some might say). Nevertheless, my Thai dinner satisfied by cravings… for the day 🙂