Published on November 16th, 2012 | by Andy Park1
Drunken Noodles for a Sober Food Snob @ Bahn Thai
Bahn Thai Restaurant Review
I’ve come to a conclusion that the BEST Thai restaurants are holes in the wall in random neighborhoods of San Diego. Bahn Thai is not any more of an exception to this well-known rule: it’s snuggly found in the hipster urban area of North Park where the cool sophisticated people walk around and hang out at coffee shops, crash a bar, and have a random taco nearby. You would possibly never suspect such a great eatery to be so miniscule in size but you’ll regret passing by without giving them a shot. Yes, I will blatantly say it: you have to try Bahn Thai. I highly suggest this because it is one of the best Thai restaurants in San Diego and you won’t break your wallet! So if you were not expecting to crave Thai food tonight, better get ready because you really, really will want to make your next trip to North Park and give this little family restaurant a special place in your heart!
Bahn means “House” in Thai and I cannot emphasize how much this warms my heart. Having traveled to Thailand for a few weeks a few years ago, I couldn’t get over how rich and fragrant all the dishes were on the street corners of every night market. When I took my first bite at this restaurant, the flavors actually made me stop conversing with my other friends and bask in the euphoria bursting through all my senses. It was like they were awakened to a new level of consciousness. This was seriously what I would expect to eat at a Thai home, and here I was sitting at my overly cramped table of four reminiscing my time in Thailand. Bahn Thai, I cannot thank you enough. I cried tears of thankfulness in my manly insides.
Enter into the Entrees
Drunken Noodles with Chicken ($7.95): I am a sucker for noodle dishes (especially Pad Thai and Pad See Ew) but this flavorful dish was demanding so much attention and it was absolutely fantastic. Actually, it was better than fantastic–it was perfect! So many different spices I couldn’t count: various peppers and a thin sauce dancing on the noodles was impeccable. The noodles were perfectly cooked with a tender but firmness that anyone would expect of rice noodles. After trying out Bahn Thai, I have an extremely high expectation for how Drunken Noodles are now prepared for me (insert: snob alert). To. Die. For. Quickly competing to be the last meal I would like to have before dying.
Panang Curry with Chicken ($7.95): This is a very sweet red curry that’s saturated with exotic flavors and coconut milk. The spice level can kind of surprise you, so I won’t suggest anything above a “mild” if you don’t like spicy curries. Personally I love the mild taste of a soothing curry sauce, but the spice kind of distracted me from the flavors. However, as a Thai curry lover, this was such a sweet and spicy blend of Thailand right on your plate. You can’t taste individual ingredients of the curry but you’ll find peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic swimming on your plate. This is the perfect medley of authentic Thai curry with a sweet tingle! Yum!
Pineapple Fried Rice with Pork ($7.95): Signature fried rice dish at Thai restaurants, and Bahn Thai does not disappoint. There’s not a strong pineapple taste (which is necessary) because the other mild but aromatic flavors really came alive with this dish. I loved how none of the ingredients were fighting for recognition but blended well together especially since the entrée is mixed with a variety of nuts. If one thing Thai people know how to do, it’s how to make a delicious plate of fried rice with pineapples! Highly, highly recommended dish!
Papaya Salad ($5.95): They use very fresh papayas and fish sauce for the bulk of this salad. It can catch many people off guard, so unless you really want an exotic taste of Thailand, I am throwing up a warning sign. For me, the mixture of papayas and fish sauce is always a funny combination, but it’s such a fresh and unique taste which really helps me appreciate Thai culture (I don’t know how, but that really made sense to me in that moment). They mixed in chili peppers, huge cut tomatoes, and other dressings which really made this a great dish.
The Fine Print
Since this is a small family-run shop, you’ll run into a little bit of a problem if you have a huge group with you. There are only 7 tables total inside and outside, and a limited number of actual seats. For such a popular place I wish they had more seating, but we’ll just ignore that. Also, if you’re expecting fancy china, I’m going to tell you right now that you’ll be served with paper plates and plastic utensils. Now with that out in the open, to give such praise to food means it HAS to be amazing. It really is. Can’t you tell by now?
The owner and workers at Bahn Thai are extremely nice and courteous. If you speak Thai, or seem somewhat interested in what you’re eating, they’ll be extremely accommodating and helpful. I love the manager because he made sure all of our needs were met for our group of six people by putting together two of their limited tables. Awesome service for normal Johns and Janes just dining in and having a good time.
Portion wise, you’ll get a full meal for a cheaper price than many Thai restaurants. That’s my last hook to drive my point home, and while you’re at it try the Dessert Mango with Sweet Rice to really bring this grand finale to a close. There’s nothing quite like Bahn Thai and I know you’ll be giving it a standing ovation when you suddenly realize that the melody of Heaven came to an abrupt close. But don’t be fooled; you and I both know that this show goes on when you come back…again…and again…and again. I will gladly take credit for this! See you at rehab!
Monday – Wednesday: 11:00AM-10PM
Thursday – Saturday: 11:00AM-11PM
Sunday: 5PM -10PM
4646 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116