Rated Best Thai Restaurant by the East Bay Express in 2011, Chai Thai Noodle earns its title with a vast menu of authentically prepared dishes imbued with vibrant flavors and spices. Chai Thai Noodle's masterful and lively preparations have earned the chefs enthusiastic accolades and multiple high-fives from local press; their pork leg stew in particular inspired across-the board ardor. The San Francisco Chronicle's Carol Ness credited owners and chefs Sangchai Vatanachai and Amnouy Manyvong for making "'pork leg stew' three of the most exciting words in the language of Thai food." John Birdsall of the East Bay Express mentioned that it had to rate "among the most satisfying meat dishes in all of East Oakland," and SF Weekly’s Meredith Brody cited the stewed leg, accompanied by pickled vegetables and mustard greens, as her primary motive for dining at Chai Thai Noodle.
Chao Thai Cuisine’s modest exterior belies the bevy of delicious and authentic fare produced by its speedy kitchen staff. A three-page menu displays nearly 100 dishes including beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian entrees. House favorites, such as pineapple fried rice, pad thai, and green curries, can be enjoyed upon the eatery’s cozy collection of indoor mosaic tabletops or stashed away into a sturdy take-out container or a water-sealed top hat.
The chefs at Siam Bay Authentic Thai craft an extensive menu of Thai specialties, from fried tofu to garlic pork with steamed broccoli. Generous portions, served in classic blue-and-white china bowls can be shared with tablemates or kept to oneself by building a protective fence of chopsticks.
Summer Summer Thai Eatery provides feasters with an expansive menu of flavor-punching, simplistically modern Thai plates. Begin fully filling an unfilled stomach with starters such as the organic chicken satay—strips of curry-marinated organic chicken charbroiled to smoky consistency—alongside a helping of creamy peanut sauce and crisp cucumber salad ($7.50). The house specialty, the yellow curry Kang Gari Kai, introduces organic chicken to bashful potatoes and carrots, and, like a supportive canasta coach, brings out the best in them with a rich yellow coconut curry sauce ($9.50).
The lengthy menu goes on for about nine miles until the Earth's curvature obscures it from view. It's packed full of authentic offerings and contemporarily twisted cuisine. Ride the culinary fence with old- and new-school starters such as crispy tofu ($5.95) or Thai fish cakes ($7.95) before throwing sand on the table and drawing a line in it, indicating the desire to move on to bigger bites. Adherents of authenticity can feast upon classic pad thai ($9.50) and pineapple fried rice ($12.95), while contemporanians can go for the lamb red curry with pumpkin ($16.50) or tamarind-steamed salmon ($12.95). A variety of curries, vegetarian dishes (available upon request), and seafood dishes are also offered. Menu items marked with the ominously seductive chili are spicy and can be ordered on the heat scale ranging from 98.6 to Ghost Rider.
Travel has long helped rejuvenate the mind. Proving that point, Koh Samui & The Monkey's owner's extensive journeys have served as inspiration for a menu that plays with flavors and spices, along with the ideas of traditional and modern. Mieng kum plates a pillar of traditional Thai cuisine with spinach leaves, which act as a wrap for chicken or tofu. Concerning the aromatic pumpkin curry, the San Francisco Chronicle's restaurant critic Michael Bauer praised it in his review, writing that "the pumpkin curry, crushed scallops and fried bananas are exceptional."
The artistry in each dish extends from the recipe to the presentation. Beautiful, colorful dishes first entice the eye as they're presented on crisp white tablecloths, on which candles cast the flickering shadows that keep the dying art of hand-puppet theater alive. The drink menu shakes and stirs with similar creative flair, mixing hip, top-shelf cocktails such as the pineapple-spiked Monkey in Paris.