All Hail the King (of Thai)
An open kitchen is generally a good harbinger on a culinary adventure. Let there not be a wall between cook and diner, let the food be honest and its preparation for all to see. And so it was that I entered King of Thai Noodle House (Clement @ 8th), the lovable original of the San Francisco chain, and was greeted by the small, “hole-in-the-wall” establishment’s pulsing kitchen. Not just open and visible, but right out front – my kind of place. The kitchen – sending out great intoxicating plumes of spicy-sweet aromas from a flurry of heat and human activity – left just a small way to the back, where a clutch of modest tables huddled. Oddly, a television played what appeared to be a Korean game show. A waitress came and took our order – the service is nuts and bolts, simple and kind. We took in a sampling of red and green curries, Pad Kee Mao, pineapple fried rice, roast duck with red curry, Tom Yum Gai soup. This was well-done, representative Thai food, which when done well is complex and layered, delicious and satisfying. The red curry took home the prize, and I would put it up against any other Gang Panang in the City for flavor and balance. The harbingers were good. The food was fantastic, and cheap. The whole meal with tax/tip was $50 and fed five people amply. Well worth a trip the hinterlands of the Inner Richmond, where the King of Thai still reigns.