Ginger, saffron, and other aromatic spices mingle in Hot Basil Cafe's kitchen, where chefs create dishes inspired by Indian and Thai cuisines. The kitchen maestros prepare Thai dishes such as cashew-nut chicken and spicy catfish, filling place settings alongside tiger prawns and cream pepper chicken baked in an Indian clay oven. They round out each meal with Thai-style iced coffee and indian fruit lassis, as well as wines and ice creams.
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.
Thai food is a traditionally spicy cuisine, and the chefs at Heng Heng Heng! Thai Noodles want all of their customers to realize that before ordering. On the menu, nine of the nearly two dozen entrees come marked with two or three tiny peppers, denoting that the dish either packs a lot of heat or hates being left out. The boat noodles, for example, stew with beef, flank steak, and spinach inside a housemade spicy chili sauce, and the innocent-sounding chicken with basil teems with extra-hot chili peppers. Diners looking for a subtler flavor have a fair share of options as well, from pad see ew to prawn fried rice.
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).
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.