On one of my trips to Ballast Point on Linda Vista a couple of months ago, I noticed this little restaurant had opened.
The name conjured up memories of the cornucopia of street food we encountered in Thailand, the breath and depth of which was impressive.......wonderful whiffs of fried goodies wafting down streets and alleyways in Thailand.
We already have The Original Sab E Lee feeding us Issan style food.....could this be the place for true Bangkok style street-food.
Even though I try not to let first impressions set the tone, the interior screams of "fast-casual"......in fact, I started calling this place Thai-Chipotle.
The place is going for that somewhat slick and modern vibe, using "Thai Street Food" to make the Veggie Pad Thai and Grilled Salmon Salad sound exotic and different.
Still, there were some items on the menu outside the restaurant that seemed interesting.
The Pork Leg Stew Rice, which I'm assuming was Khao Kha Moo looked like a must try, until I entered the restaurant and found that it was no longer on the menu....the one inside the place.
Still the steamed chicken rice ($7), sounded much like Hainan Chicken Rice which is called khao man kai in Thailand, so I thought I'd give that a try. Admittedly, I was thrown off when the chipper young lady asked me if I wanted my chicken with or without skin.
Upfront I'll say this was way better than the version at Noble Chef, the chicken tender, the rice not dried out. On the other hand, the flavor was on the mild side, almost a caricature of sorts that had me wanting something like what I had in Chiang Mai. The flavor was a bit too watered down and gabacho for me. The sauce was basically a sweet chili sauce with garlic, a bit too sweet for me. The tones that ginger adds to this dish was missing as well.
The good thing about these type of places is that you don't spend a mint on your meal. This means that you, like I can give it another go a few weeks later. This time I was famished and started with the Chicken Wings, not a bargain at $3 for three wings.....they gotta fix the sign outside, it says four wings.
The wings were served with the same pseudo garlic-sweet chili sauce that was served with the chicken on my previous visit. Gladly, the wings didn't need the sauce. I thought these were quite good. The wings were moist, the skin crunchy, with a nice balanced seasoning, salty-peppery, with a touch of heat. Not cheap, about the same price as wings from Kyochon and not quite there in terms of execution and taste. Still, not bad.
I wish this carried over onto my Duck Noodle Soup ($7).
The good, well, the decent was the pretty generous portion of duck, which was tender if not particularly memorable in terms of flavor.
The bad was the broth, which was an insipid combination of watery faint five spice and sugar flavors. Everything else was null and void.
The ugly were the noodles which were mushy and overcooked.
Well, at least it was steaming hot, right?
In terms of prices, this place is not bad. In the context of gringo/student Thai Food, ditto. Is it for me....well, other than those wings, probably not. I usually don't go to Chipotle when I'm craving Mexican Food, but I don't hold it against those who do.
J&T Thai Street Food
5259 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92110