Here's a trio of revisits to various Thai places we've been to in recent weeks.
The Original Sab E Lee:
You know, we've been here tons of times since they opened in August of 2008. We miss Koby, who used to own this, then Sab E Lee in Santee dearly. There have been times when our meals...usually when doing take-out has been less than stellar and there seems to be a group of young kids often running the front of house, but they've always been pleasant, if a bit inconsistent.
I've found that my heat tolerance, once leveled off at "Thai spicy", a 10, is now about a 7. And what we usually get here is a rotation of our favorites, sometimes throwing in something we hadn't had in a while. This visit was no different.
We started with the grilled duck larb:
One need to look no further than this for a savory, tangy, sour, and satisfying dish.
The Missus was wanting something like the Shrimp Pla from SEL2, so we went with the Shrimp Larb:
This was pretty weak by SEL standards, not spicy enough at even a 7 heat level, too much lime interfered with any other flavor, and not enough really going on. We thought the Shrimp were a bit overcooked for this type of dish. At the most, we'd prefer shrimp just barely cooked.
But all was right with the Shrimp Pad See Eew.
Nice flavor, shrimp cooked quite well. There's some "wok hei" going on..... great flavors from caramelization and the combination of ingredients, high heat, a well seasonedwok and the now ever popular and over-used "Maillard Reactions".
The Original Sab E Lee
2405 Ulric St
San Diego, CA 92111
Sab E Lee 2 (Sab E Lee Santee):
After our visit back in May, I received and email telling me the place had gone downhill. A couple of weeks ago, the Missus wanted Her fish fix, so we decided to head back.
The gentleman, whose name, if I recall is something like "Chud" still remember me from the days when Koby was here and our San Diego Beer week dinner in 2010. His daughter is now working there; it's become a real family affair.
We started with the Shrimp Pla, with it's spicy-sweet-sour-savory tones, this really perks us up and gets us ready for the rest of the meal.
Instead of my usual Garlic Rice, I went with one of my favorites at TOSEL, the Salted Fish Fried Rice. This version was much more mellow, but really delicious, and less salty. You could make out the fragrance and taste the salted fish, but it really didn't over-power the dish.
The Missus went with the Volcano Fish, instead of Her usual the House Signature Fish.
This one had a bit too much going on for me, but the Missus enjoyed it, and that was the main thing.
We also ordered one of those typical, you pick the protein, you pick the preparation, Thai dishes.....
Which would be ok from your neighborhood Thai take-out joint, but was nothing special.
We'll probably be coming again, the Missus enjoys the fish here.....and I want more salted fish fried rice.
Sab E Lee 2
9159 Mission Gorge Road
Santee, CA 92071
Based on my previous post, you can figure out what I order here, right? The Nam Khao Tod of course.
This is pretty "wet" and I still prefer the Lao version, but the gingery-sour-salty flavors, topped by some spice I find quite refreshing.
And of course that simmered pork leg dish, the Khao Karr Moo (Khao Kha Moo), which, when done well.....about a 50-50 shot during my last couple of visits, takes me back to Thailand.
At least it's now on the permanent menu.
On a recent visit, the Missus went with the...are you ready....pla nuer onn tod kra tom. Can we just call it crispy whole fish? Anyway, this thing took about 15 minutes longer than both of my dishes....no mention of anything amiss, just dropped my dishes off...and we waited. Finally the Missus told me, "just eat you food....if it takes more than five more minutes, we'll be getting it to go and never coming back." Luckily, the fish made it's way to the table....again, no indication that anything was out of the ordinary....I guess it's SOP here. We're used to the "appetizer sin", which really doesn't bother us, but this was strange. Anyway, this wasn't just a whole fried fish....it was 11 whole fishes!
These were sheathfish and the Missus told me they were fried and seasoned perfectly as She ate all 11 of them! She also enjoyed the sauce and asked if we could have more....and they wanted to charge us $2......really? Whatever....... I've had some kind of weird service here in the past, I guess that's the norm.
I will usually come here for lunch when I have the time, not sure the Missus would want to come back, though.
Koon Thai Kitchen
3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
So there you go, three down and a couple of more to go......stay tuned!