CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Sunday, March 20, 2005

It's a Thai (Thep Phanom -- San Francisco, CA)

You know what's just crazy stupid? The fact that I haven't posted about one single fucking Thai restaurant yet. Not only is it one of my favorite cuisines, but I'm headed to Thailand next month mostly to eat. So it's just all sorts of fucked up that there is nothing on my blog that backs that shit up. So here it is.

SF has a lot of Thai restaurants, and a lot of damn good ones at that. It's pretty easy to get a great Thai meal in just about any neighborhood in our fair city. The one that remains consistently at the top of the proverbial heap, however, is Thep Phanom in the lower Haight.

Thep Phanom is run by chef/owner Pathama Parikanont, who is cute as pie and can get her cookin' on like you've never seen. Their menu is super long (which can be overwhelming), but you can pretty much just point to anything with your eyes closed and it will be good. There's also a concerted effort to cook with organic ingredients so I gotta give some props there.

The first time I went there was back in 1999. It was a Thursday night, we had reservations, but we still had to wait. But it really didn't matter because a) it was worth it and b) I would never, ever want to be a restaurant trying to guess how long people will plan to linger at their tables thus fucking up the next turn.

So, six years (and one takeout discovery later), I'm still going there and still loving it.

Here are some of my favorites:

The crispy yam and taro root. These are covered in panko and fried and served with peanut sauce. Artery blocking goodness. When you order them for takeout, TP puts them in an open container so the steam doesn't condense and make them soggy. That's just fucking brilliance right there.

Pad Thai. The barometer of all Thai restaurants. Theirs is super fresh and delicious and you get a fuckload of noodles which is a big plus in my house. And they use actual tamarind instead of sugar -- imagine that!

Tom Kha Gai, spicy chicken and coconut milk soup. It's a crowd pleaser and a great way to get your tummy ready for some curry. Like a buffer layer or something.

Spicy prawns and squid with string beans. Super rad.

Param Long Srong. Beef with spinach in peanut sauce. Jon loves this shit. You can also ask them to make it with chicken if you don't like the moo moos.

Any curry, any way, any time. They're all good. I'm partial to green curry, but anyway you like it, you can get it there.

Sweet sticky rice with mango and fried banana with ice cream. With the sticky rice, I usually have to distract Jon by yelling "Look -- boobs!" to manage to get a bite, and the fried bananas are warm and crispy and squishy and awesome. I hear you can get a bag of them for like, 12 cents in Thailand, which means my ass is in for some enlargement.

And last but not least, everything else on the whole menu because it's all good. Michael Bauer thinks the menu is too big for them to keep up the quality but it still tastes good to me so I'm gonna ignore that.

The staff is friendly, the service is quick (as is takeout) and it's a hop, skip and a jump away from some rockin' lower Haight bars if you want to lay down some foundation before a night of drinking.

I get my Thai on all over this city, but I'll find any excuse to hit up TP because, in my opinion, it's the best and freshest Thai cuisine in the city. We'll see how I feel after my trip but for now, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thep Phanom is my favorite Thai place in the city as well. You're right on about the taro and yam appetizers. Fantastic! The Thaitanic Tofu is my favorite dish. The sauce is superb, and the zucchini is always perfect.

10/30/2005 2:24 PM  

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