At Street Side Thai Kitchen, spice-soaked aromas fill an elegantly decorated dining area adorned with crimson curtains and jet-black tables. Enter the restaurant’s epicurean oasis and feast on a menu stacked with warming, customizable sustenance forged from a choice of meats, veggies, and meat substitutes. Culinary journeys commence with appetizers such as deep-fried egg rolls or puffy veggies, a golden-fried, peanut-encrusted crowd brimming with soft tofu, carrot, and taro that flaunts herbaceous goodness like a farmer's trophy room. Street-vendor-style wok and noodle dishes include the ka-prao, a steaming army of rice that surrounds protein centerpieces such as chicken, salmon, scallops, or beef with fresh garlic and bell peppers. Tofu and mock chicken leap into eight styles of curry, including pumpkin-infused and panang varieties, which bathe palates in piquant broths and usher diners into exotic gardens of spice.
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.
Pots filled with yellow, red, and green curries simmer in Ivory Thai Cuisine’s kitchen, waiting to be ladled into bowls alongside slices of chicken or tofu. The curries, a staple of Thai cuisine, arrive on tables next to plates of veggie pad thai packed with carrots, broccoli, and thin brown noodles, all of which have been doused in a special house 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.
Chef Isabel Cruz's unique edible offerings are served straight from the Venn-diagram center of Latin and Asian cuisine. Vegetarians and omnivores alike can nosh healthy breakfast options such as the homemade Cantina croissant with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and scallions ($8.25), or have a lunchtime-leaning crispy lettuce wrap cradling marinated chicken and tangy peanut sauce ($9.75). Toast with a fresh mimosa ($5 per glass, $20 per pitcher) or sweet thai coffee ($3.75). In the evening, revive flagging taste buds with palate-tickling plantains with sour cream and caviar ($9). Entrees include globetrotting, edible explorations such as the flat-iron steak with cilantro garlic mojo pico, which is accompanied by loyal cartographers portobello mushrooms ($20).