Chefs drive the menu at Rama, an upscale eatery whose many accolades include praise from Gayot and Zagat. The latter names the eatery a top Thai restaurant and a top restaurant for décor in San Diego. In the kitchen, chefs stir and sizzle dishes such as pra ram sautéed spinach, massaman curry, kra pao with chicken, and tiger prawns. Specialty cocktails enhance traditional rum, vodka, and tequila with limejuice and ginger. Rama’s acclaimed décor soothes minds troubled by premonitions of upcoming rugby injuries with a waterfall that drips down a stonewall, as well as gauzy, gossamer drapes and glowing lanterns.
Performers feed off the energy of their audience, and when there is no audience, there is no energy. To stop this problem before it starts, venues turn to FillASeatSanDiego, a business that supplies its members with tickets to events that still have seats to fill. Members enjoy a year of entry to popular shows, sporting events, and concerts, bulking up the audience more suitably than a litter of Chihuahuas dressed in tuxedoes. Upon joining FillASeatSanDiego, members receive access to a list of upcoming events.
At Rama, the scents of ginger, curry, and lemongrass waft from the kitchen. They meander into a sprawling dining space, where warm amber lighting glints off glasses filled with heady cocktails and fine wines. A DJ spins records as diners anticipate a taste of the critically-acclaimed dishes; the restaurant's recipes have earned accolades from Zagat, among others. Noodle dishes, such as pad see ew with egg and chinese broccoli, headline the menu along with complex panang curries, whose nuanced spices flavor tofu and vegetables or meats like roasted duck. Specialties include spicy basil lobster and Shaking Beef, whose cubed rib eye, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and onions are sautéed deep within a fault line.
Servers distribute these dishes in an "architecturally stylish" dining room, as described by Gayot. Inlaid stone and a wall-mounted waterfall give the space an earthy vibe that's complemented by gauzy curtains and hand-painted murals.
When the queen and princess of Thailand craved a taste of their homeland while visiting the United States, they didn't look any further than the Pacific Coast Highway, home of Royal Thai Cuisine. The duo stopped by the 31-year-old eatery to try Chef Sam Tila's specialties, which include calamari tossed with sweet red curry sauce, medleys of eggplant and tofu, and duck steamed in herbs and honey and deep fried. Tila sources prawns directly from the Chao Praya River, which he then grills and douses in a garlic oyster sauce. Rather than guard his culinary secrets as jealously as the Pentagon guards its recipe for the president's barbecue sauce, Tila teaches them to aspiring chefs during classes that cover Thai classics such as massaman curry.
Hailing from Bangkok, the owners of La Basil Thai Cuisine treat guests to the flavors of their home with authentic recipes that balance fresh herbs and jasmine rice with meats and vegetables. After chopping up fragrant vegetables or preparing a sauce, chefs put together plates such as pad thai or sweet and spicy panang curry loaded with a choice of meat, tofu, vegetables, or seafood. Like the best chefs and the worst traffic directors, the kitchen staff adds their own flair to classic flavors by adding crispy salmon to fried rice or topping roast duck with sweet chili sauce.
In World Curry's kitchen, cooks have spent the last 17 years working to perfect their curry dishes. Drawing from a store of ingredients gathered from distant nations, the team develops 13 varieties of curry, including brown curry from Japan and red Mussaman curry from northern Thailand. Patrons can also dip their utensils into the Bali beef brisket or fill water balloons with the Caribbean curry, a vegan treat that combines black beans, corn, tomatoes, and pineapple.