There is a lot of buzz swirling around Pim Techamuanvivit’s new Thai restaurant. Pim, according to her blog, wanted to give her new restaurant a more authentic Thai experience complete with fresh quality ingredients and an added flare of originality.
We decided to swing by last night and review our first experience at her new establishment. Our goal wasn’t to call out minor irregularities as these are expected for a newly opened restaurant. Instead, we intend to judge the restaurant’s overall passion, direction and uniqueness and how they shine through to the food and service. Below is a summary of our findings.
Nestled in Parc 55 Hotel on the corner of Mason and Ellis Street, the interior entrance is marked by a simple sign, flower pot, and hostess’s pulpit. The interior is beset by a melange of wood tables and chairs that lend to an overall casual ambiance. Folded paper menus and hot sauce bottles placed at each table further reinforced the “no fine dining here” notion. Considering the cost of some of the entrees we wonder whether a slightly more upscale setting would better befit the menu.
Priew Wan Sour (Sweet and Sour Sour) Cocktail
In the Priew Wan Sour, the sweetness from the flowery hibiscus and sourness of lemon blended well with the aged rum. The added bitters and Thai chili gave an additional complexity and spicy bite to the taste profile. Overall, the unique flavors and freshness of the Thai inspired drink made for a satisfying experience.
Pretty Hot Wings
The wings were plumped, covered in a fried batter, and glazed with an intense spicy Sriracha sauce. Unfortunately, the over salted and spiced outer glaze made it difficult to enjoy the fresh plump chicken meat. Bright acidic flavors of vinegar and orange peaked through, but they were mostly subdued by the excessive saltiness. This overpowering saltiness, confirmed to be appropriate by our server, might put off some patrons. There should also be a baked or more healthier cooked option as San Franciscans tend to be a health conscious bunch.
Sai Ua + Namprik Noom (Pork Sausage Lettuce Wraps)
The build-it-yourself lettuce wraps included rice, relish, cucumbers, sausage and lettuce leaves. The homemade sausage tasted fresh and was cut into 1/2 inch moist bits. Along with cucumber and lemony sausage, the overall wrap tasted clean and light. Accompanied relish lacked a strong flavor but added a coolness to the overall dish.
Khun Yai’s Rabbit Green Curry
The largest dish in our sampling was the Rabbit Green Curry with a sticky rice accompaniment. The rabbit leg and meatballs were succulent, savory and full of flavor. Unfortunately, the thick yellow (we were expecting a greenish tinge) sauce in our $22 entree was heavy on the palette and overwhelmed the meat and apple eggplant flavors. Also, there could have been quinoa or similar rice alternative to go with our curry – we know this is Thai food but it’s also San Francisco.
Black Rice Pudding
The coconut and black rice pudding was yet another rice dish but its unique taste made the overall experience worth the extra glycemic load. Warm onyx colored pudding tasted bread-like and its bland flavor balanced well with the sugary toppings. The coconut burnt caramel had an interesting flavor profile and it was unlike traditional caramel toppings. In addition, the coconut cream and puffed rice praline toppings added a creative dairy free sweetness to the pudding.
Passion was seen in the original dish preparations and freshness of ingredients. Also, the enthusiastic service swept away dirty dishes and served courses in a timely manner. But there were flaws. We shall ignore the over salted wings as this is considered minor and should rectify over time given additional customer feedback. However, larger issues such as the lack of healthier food options, the emphasis on rice in most dishes, and a downscale setting might turnoff potential repeat customers. In addition, our $82 bill was slightly more than what the experience was worth.