Thai Dining Experiences in the Bay Area
Thai cuisine is one of the American urbanites’ most beloved menu due to the dishes’ perfect balance of sour, salty, spicy, and sweet flavors. Moreover, the Bay Area has some of the best Thai restaurants that offer delicious Thai food other than the usual massaman curry and tangy pad thai. According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s journalist Soleil Ho, the article’s list of the top Thai restaurants are the ones that she has tried to dine in and loved their excellent portrayal of a variety of Thai dishes. Here are Bay Area’s top Thai diners that serve the best-tasting Thai dishes within the state, per Ho’s dining experiences and recommendations:
1. Funky Elephant
Address: 1313 Ninth St., St. Berkeley
The Funky Elephant Thai restaurant at Ninth street is one of the top-tier Thai restaurants that serve palatable Thai dishes around the Bay Area. Restaurant owners Supasit Puttikaew and Nanchaphon Laptanachai both take pride in their versions of famous Thai edibles. The diner mostly prides itself on its spicy dishes, all carefully mixed with carefully fresh ingredients of curry pastes and sauces. Head chef Puttikaew’s menu reflects the in-house dishes’ sensibility, with its straightforward and slim design filled with unique and appealing Thai food.
Ho highly suggests trying out the Funky Elephant’s chicken and rice dish called Kao mun gai, consisting of perfectly poached chicken breast with punchy fermented soybean sauce as its complementary relish.
2. Vientian Cafe
Address: 3801 Allendale Ave., Oakland
Vientian Cafe is one of the Bay Area’s few residential and quiet dining zones that serve savory Thai recipes. The cafe has been serving the public for 18 years, with owner Anna Phanavvong offering Thai and Vietnamese specialties such as Lao to customers together with her family. According to Ho, Vientian Cafe is one of the best in handling order takeouts due to the staff’s careful and organized style of packing noodle soups and salads to grab home.
Additionally, the cafe provides a wide selection of Thai and Vietnamese food, such as baked Laotian sausage with lemongrass and chile pepper, Lao-style papaya salad dressed with a flavorful fermented anchovy sauce, and crave-able crispy rice salad and fermented peanuts and pork.
Address: 5020 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
Kob Varaphol established Amphawa in the Richmond district in 2011, and the Thai diner had been thriving a lot since its grand opening nine years ago. The place is a comfortable spot accompanied by a big menu of hard-to-find Thai dishes and noodles. A few of Amophawa’s famous specialties include crispy fried chicken wings complemented with spicy chile-garlic sauce and angel wings.
From Ho’s dining experiences with the place, Amphawa’s best-seller is Kao ka moo, Thai vendors’ favorite dish consisting of a slow-braised pork-leg stew. The previously mentioned Thai specialty also includes ingredients of tart pickled mustard greens and aromas of star anise, coriander, soy sauce, and cinnamon.
Address: 458 Grove St., San Francisco
Pop-up store owner Intu-on Kornnawang aims to serve the Isaan region’s Thai food to Bay Area locals and visitors, the dishes she grew up with back in Thailand as a child. Due to her knowledge and practice in both farm-to-table Californian and Thai restaurants, Kornnawang makes sure that she cooks her dishes carefully to perfection. Since the diner is a pop-up shop, Intu-on plans to open every Friday of December in places around Hidden Cafe and Berkeley. Additionally, Kornnawang opens up business on Sundays at Hayes Valley and Birba.
The Intu-on shop’s best Thai specialties include grilled meats and salads topped with smoky, acidic flavors and mouth-watering dipping sauces.