mmm-yoso!!! is being written by Cathy today. Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) are otherwise engaged and not ready to write about their recent food adventures.
If you type in "Sab E Lee" in the 'Search' box at the top left corner of this page, you will get about 435 results. All of us here at mmm-yoso have been there, especially when it opened. We all enjoy the food. Kirk's most recent post was two years ago and he thought it was good grub, but not as outstanding as when it first opened. The Mister and I have become complacent and accustomed to Sab E Lee being a place to go for Issan style food and I've not even photographed some meals here. The food of Isaan is very hot and flavored with pungent herbs and seasonings, with some of Thailand's spiciest salads. The intense flavors of Isaan food is one way of managing an insecure food supply – very hot, flavorful dishes encourage diners to diffuse the flavors with a lot of sticky rice.
The small restaurant expanded out a bit last year, adding five tables and is centered with his beautiful sculpture.
The Mister and I had a small break in our day and met here for a quick meal, choosing the standard papaya salad ($7.95). Made with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, small dried shrimp, green beans and topped with a mix of fish sauce, lime juice and chili (level 2). This is always so refreshing and wonderful. Larb ($8.95), char broiled ground meat or tofu or mushrooms (pork in this case) mixed with roughly ground toasted rice and fresh herbs (notably mint) and flavored with a fermented fish sauce, lime and chili is a great type of meat salad, served at room temperature with either rice or raw vegetables. It is always a favorite and my choice on especially hot days.
All in all, a very nice meal.
Sab E Lee 6925 Linda Vista Road San Diego, 92111 (858) 650-6868 Tues-Fri open 11-3:30 and 5-9:30 Saturday/Sunday 11-9:30, closed on Monday. Cash only
Hope 2017 is going well so far. Today it's Ed (from Yuma) blogging here. Tomorrow it'll be Kirk or Cathy. Thanks for reading the blog.
In 2013, Yuma changed for the better when Red Rose, a Thai restaurant, opened off of Fortuna road in Foothills. The food was generally good, and it was one of the few places with many choices for vegetarians and vegans. So I was worried last summer when our server told us that new ownership would be taking over. The good news was that the new owner was already the chef at Red Rose.
A new ownership with a new menu means it's time for a new post.
Except for the name change, the exterior looks much the same:
As you can see from these two pictures of the interior, there's not a lot of change there either: Something else that has not changed is the restaurant's BYOB policy, customers can bring their own bottles of wine and Yuma Thai Cuisine will provide glasses etc.:
But I would not recommend bringing a Chardonnay; here I speak from experience, trust me.
There are some significant differences like the huge mugs for ice water:
That picture was taken on my first visit after the ownership change, so I requested lemon. There was no need for it, however, because that's not water straight from the tap, but fresh tasting, very quaffable H₂O. Particularly great during our summers when I can get thirsty just walking from car to restaurant.
This entrée of basil eggplant reflects other changes: The menu (website) has been tweaked. For example, the featured eggplant dish used to contain deep fried slices (think tempura) covered in a Thai style brown sauce, a nice combination of crunchy and smooth. YTC's eggplant dish is more of a standard stirfry, but the eggplant is still creamy and the flavor good overall. I also like that the "pick a protein" dishes provide the option of extra vegetables – as in this case – so that vegetarians or vegans don't have to have to overdose on tofu.
A couple of other differences you can see in this picture:
These days, YTC has a two-page lunch menu with lunch size portions of many dishes at lunch size prices. Some are noodle dishes, but the rest – like this one – are served with rice. Also different is the "brown rice" option. It used to be a nutty flavored and light brown; now it is what I call Korean purple rice.
All the lunch specials also include a small cup of very flavorful spicy tom yum soup with vegetables:
A similar broth highlights the mixed seafood soup:
The soup contained mussels, shrimp, scallops, and squid along with tomato wedges, mushroom slices, Thai basil leaves, and onion chunks. It was all good, fresh tasting and flavorful.
YTC also serves rice noodle soups that remind me ofphớ. The first one I tried was the beef noodle soup:
There was a lot to like. The broth, while not super beefy, was rich and sweet with the taste of anise. The rare steak was flavorful if not especially tender, and the meatballs were lightly spiced and not rubbery. Fried shallots, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkling of bean sprouts were fine.
The soup was served mild with no hot spiciness, but was accompanied by these condiments if I wanted to turn up the heat:
There was just one problem:
The noodles were overcooked, sometimes breaking apart. As I was leaving, the friendly server mentioned that the regular chef was out of town, and I suspect that was the problem because the noodles were perfect a couple of months later when I had the oxtail noodle soup:
And the chunks of oxtail were tender, rich, and succulent. Just wonderful soup.
Noodle dishes in general are a strong point at YTC. This is pad se eaw with chicken:
Overall good flavor, a nice range of ingredients, and the product of a hot wok. Much like this pad kee mao with shrimp:
The ultimate fried noodles are a curry flavored combination of egg, chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, veggies and noodles:
And I really love YTC's version of pad Thai, here with shrimp:
and here with pork:
The sauce is powerful and complex. There is the sweet tang of tamarind and rich umami flavor as well. Good with a lime squeeze. And the noodles masterfully prepared, al dente and toothsome.
The papaya salad always spicy is well done as well. When we request it, YTC happily will prepare a vegan version that's almost as good as the standard version. Sadly, my best papaya salad photo is what was left on the serving plate after four of us had hungrily attacked the salad:
Tina and I also liked the yum nua, the spicy Thai beef salad:
The lettuces were nothing special, but the steak strips were beefy and the salad crunchy and tangy, nicely balancing other dishes like noodles or curries.
While the chicken larb had many of the same flavors, on this night, the meat seemed a little dry:
YTC has many of the same curry options as before – such as this somewhat under flavored green curry with shrimp:
The shrimp and vegetables were great and the sauce creamy, but not a lot of green taste.
The jungle curry, here with tofu, is a new addition and is the only curry sans coconut milk: Again, my only complaint is a lack of intensity. Perhaps if we ordered the dishes at a higher spice level, the other flavors would be jacked up as well.
The menu has also been expanded with an entirely new section, "Thai specialties," which includes many new seafood entrées as well as this very enjoyable red curry duck:
Half of a boneless duck, deep-fried until crunchy crispy, served with pineapple chunks, tomato pieces, pepper strips, abundant Thai basil and a creamy red curry sauce. Our server said this was his favorite dish on the menu, and I can understand why.
We've also sampled a variety of the desserts, the least interesting being sticky rice and Thai custard:
Cool and refreshing in the summer, this dessert seemed more one-dimensional than the fried banana, sort of deep-fried eggrolls filled with soft fleshed banana:
But on this evening, the real winner was the mango sticky rice:
The mango was wonderfully ripe and partnered perfectly with the sweet creamy rice.
If you were a fan of Red Rose Thai, I'm sure you'll love Yuma Thai Cuisine. And if you have not tried this restaurant, you're really missing one of the highlights of the Yuma culinary scene. YTC serves some excellent quality dishes with preparations that you can't find anywhere else in Yuma County.
Yuma Thai Cuisine, 11274 S. Fortuna Rd., C1, Yuma AZ 85367, (928) 342-7777.
I must be getting old as this seemed to be quite a bit of food for me. The chicken was nice and lightly crisp; the flavor of rice vinegar present....I may ask them to put the tartar sauce on the side next time as it was a bit too much mayo goodness for me. The imo nimono...simmered potato was quite good....a nice meal for ten bucks.
Wa Dining Okan 3860 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
While checking out Okan, I looked over to Koon Thai and wondered how they were doing. So, a few days later I dropped by. Man, they are pretty darn busy for lunch....and the rather jaded attitude of the staff shows! Well, whatever. On this visit, I decided not to order my usual, the Khao Karr Moo and instead went with the Khao Moo Dang Moo Krob ($9.95), a literal pork-fest.
I gotta say; that typical Thai style sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, was quite good. The BBQ pork was on the dry side and the roast pork....well was very nice, except for the skin which was really hard like plastic. I thought the lup cheong was quite good in the sweet-salty sauce; the egg perhaps overdone.....still that sauce was quite good. It was all about that. More quantity over quality in my book, but not bad at all,. Next time, I'm sticking with my favorite.
Koon Thai Kitchen 3860 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
I'm always looking for options for a weekend breakfast while performing all those "honey-doo" tasks and was recently reminded that El Portal (has it really been that long?) serves breakfast and they open at 7am. I literally pass this place daily.
It's been over a decade since I last visited, but the place looks the same. I got the basic Huevos a l Mexicana; which was pretty hefty for $7.05.
Eggs scrambled with peppers, onions, and tomato...topped with cheese. Potatoes from the fryer, a load of fairly salty beans, and tortillas. The coup de grace....a bag of chips. I covered things in pico de gallo and could not finish this. Nothing fancy, nothing amazing....but if you're looking to eat nothing until dinner this might do.
A bit too much for me.......
El Portal Fresh Mexican Grill 4101 Genesee Ave San Diego, CA 92111
Well, it's been a good 10 months since I last visited. It had been one of those mornings; so hectic that the last thing I really wanted to think about was lunch. So I just headed down Convoy and decided to stop at AppeThai.
I did enjoy the Tod Man KhaoPod - Fried Corn Fritters on my previous visits, so I ordered that along with one of those "pick the protein, pick the prep" lunches that many Thai places serve.
The Corn Fritters are now four bucks a pop and this, while still crisp and sweet, also had a slight flavor of old oil.
Kind of fried, I just went ahead and ordered "whatever", which in this case was the Roasted Duck with Spicy Bamboo Shoots ($10.50).
Needless to say, I should have just told them to forget about the insipid soup, the smear of cream cheese in a wonton....well....the salad wasn't too bad.
When my entrée arrived, I took one look and was quite disappointed.
It looked like this wasn't even stir-fried; there was no color; the duck a sad grey, the veggies almost raw....did they put this in a microwave? It was, other than having a small stash of Thai Chilies hiding at the bottom of this fairly bland. The rubbery duck had a bit of flavor; but this wasn't quite what I signed up for.
No wok hey, it's like they made it in a non-stick pan at too low a heat...... Very disappointing.
There were no other customers during my entire meal. I'm not sure this place is going to make it.
Man, it's been quite busy since we've returned from our (all too short) trip. I've had to work everyday, so I'm starting to feel it. So here's another one of those COMC posts of places you already know.
The Missus requested Village Kitchen a few nights before leaving for Lima.
We tried a couple of the newer dishes like the "Green Vegetable Cooked the Old Way", which, in spite of the preserved vegetables was very bland, and the Intestines with Chilies and Bamboo Flavor, which tasted really good, but I'd have preferred the intestines being a bit more crisp.
There's an interesting story about the folks here.....one day I might get around to sharing it.
Village Kitchen 4720 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Another favorite of the Missus, as long as they keep serving up the Som Tom Khai Kem; the papaya salad with Salted Egg, which the Missus pounced on so quickly, I never got the chance for a shot.
And the Spicy Thousand Year Old Eggs.
Another favorite of hers.
They actually had Roast Duck Larb on this visit.
Thai Papaya by Sab E Lee 2405 Ulric St San Diego, CA 92111
DW has been doing some great consulting work for us.....but she's from Missouri and had never had raw fish ever in her life. She does enjoy a bit of spice in her food and in spite of being terrified of some of the stuff I eat, is quite game....she had her first ramen that didn't come from a package a few weeks back, crawfish, raw oysters....but she was still terrified of raw fish. So I figured, since she loves rice, why not have same make her a Hwe Dup Bop. Knowing she was really nervous, he put the Makisu up around the prep area so she couldn't see anything, just to make her a bit more apprehensive.......you gotta love Sam!
Anyway, she really enjoyed her meal....though the look on her face when I had to explain what various things were....like masago; oh, and that cube thing was tofu. And that nice crunchy green vegetable was seaweed.
Aaah the things we take for granted. It's always nice to introduce folks to new experiences.
A new shop coming soon and two new places for hump day......
Banh Mi Bakery and Café:
For some reason, this strip mall on the corner of Clairemont Mesa and Ruffin Road always eludes my attention. But on this past weekend, a sign with "Banh Mi" on it caught my eye, so I drove into the parking lot to check it out.
You can find my post on our visits to Boiling Passion here.
I noticed the sign when driving to pick-up a bento at Nijiya. I noticed that Pho Paradise had closed back in January. Boy did they turn this place around quick. But did they really want to name it "Boiling Passion"?
When I sent off a photo and text to my friends; "John" quickly texted me back asking if this was a massage parlor. I quickly sent off a string of texts about "meat" that isn't really appropriate for this blog.....I'll let your imagination go with that one!
3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Mekong Cuisine Replaces Sang Deuan:
I went up the parking lot to turn around and noticed another change.
I hadn't even noticed this one! Sang Deuan sure didn't last long. Well, another place to try. They kept the "Lao & Thai" portion of the old sign, so I'm thinking the menu is probably similar to Sang Deuan's.
Last week, the sun shone brightly and weather got a bit warmer, you could tell, in spite of the calendar that spring had sprung. So it made sense when the Missus told me She wanted to grab a bite at Thai Papaya. Strange thing, in spite of the chilies and spiciness, we tend to think of Thai and Lao food as something to have during spring-summer-early fall.
Still, the Missus had to have the Som Tom Khai Kem; the papaya salad with Salted Egg, heat level 5....we have to build our tolerance back up every year these days.
The nice salty-savory flavor off the salted egg plays well off of the acid and the flavor of dried shrimp. The papaya and tomato was decently pounded; the papaya still crunchy. I've had the papaya be a little mushy on occasion, but not on this day. The peanuts just seem to finish the dish for us. The Missus does love Her eggs.
Speaking of eggs.......how could we not order the Spicy Thousand Year Old Eggs. At first we thought they forgot the pidan when the dish arrived.
But a quick peek under that curtain of ground pork and veggies revealed the preserved egg. While it won't make us forget Yai Cuisine, this was a very nice dish, the "gravy" not too thin and full of Thai Basil flavor. This was just spicy enough for us at this point in the year. The one item that really added to the dish for us were the bamboo shoots which added a nice earthy-woodsy flavor. The Missus told me after two bites, "now this reminds me of Thailand....."
We also ordered the Issan Sausage; usually a favorite of mine. This time it seemed a bit dried out.
And while I wasn't expecting anything like the sausage at Supanee, but this wasn't quite as good as what I usually get here. It wasn't bad, just not at the level of what I expect. Too dry and strangely lacking flavor.
Still, this was an enjoyable meal and I'm sure we'll be back to try other items on the menu as the weather warms up.
Thai Papaya by Sab E Lee 2405 Ulric St San Diego, CA 92111
Back to the Poseidon Project and the Haad Sai Thai Food Truck:
The Missus ended up working on a recent Friday evening at the last minute, which left me alone at 630 pm on a Friday. So I headed out looking for a place to eat.....as I figured everyplace was packed. I even tried Pacific Time, but there was no parking. As I rolled up Morena, I noticed a Food Truck in front of The Poseidon Project, I thought "why not"?
Turns out it was a Thai truck called Haad Sai Thai.
The guy running the truck was really friendly and several folks in Poseidon were eating noodles; a couple of folks even doing take-out from the truck, so I ordered some drunken noodles with chicken, bought a bottle of one of my recent favorites....I was surprised at the price, cheaper than what I recently paid for a bottle at Keg and Barrel at $9.53 with tax, and had a seat.
The drunken noodles were nothing to write home about, though it was decently spicy at a heat level 7 and at least the noodles weren't mushy.
The chicken was dry, not enough "wok hay", other than the heat level, missing the sweet and salty of drunken noodles, and a bit over-priced at $9, but the savings on my bottle balanced things out for me. The portion size was quite large though and I got to watch a beer nerd ("bro") get a bottle of Delirium and match it with a California Burrito from Santana's across the street....a first for me.
Plus, the folks working here are great. I'm really warming to the place. Even though they only currently have 8 pulls, the bottles seems nicely priced.
Poseidon Project 4126 Napier St San Diego, CA 92110
Plus I just can't help but keep humming this song.
Back in the end of September, I mentioned that what looked to be a Thai Restaurant, named AppeThai was replacing Yes! Pingo. To my surprise, just a few days later I saw the "Now Open" sign posted.
The place looked open one morning at a bit after 10am. With my scheduled booked through the normal lunch hour, I was headed to Nijiya, but decided to stop here instead.
The menu seemed very "street-foodish" with a variety of noodles and curry, you know, the pick your protein thing. The setting wide-open and fast casual, much like J&T. You order and pay at the counter and such. I really like the setting and seating arrangement.
I ended up ordering something I will usually order when faced with a typical noodle menu to check the kitchen's stir fry skill and something I hadn't seen in a while.
If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that my test of a Thai cooks stir fry skills is the simple Pad See Ew. At it's most simplest, rice noodles, soy sauce (light and dark), egg, Chinese Broccoli, garlic, and perhaps palm sugar. All the same ingredients. It's up to the cook to make it right. So how was this?
In terms of flavor, this was pretty good. A bit more garlic than I'm used to and not as sweet, but you couldn't say it was bland. Shrimp was also prepped decently and quite moist and tender. The wok skills weren't quite what I consider top-notch as the noodles were too mushy and some of the pieces of the gailan were too hard while other pieces were too mushy. It was, however, far from being bland. The rest of the "stuff" was just filler....the really bad pre-frozen bulk gyoza and the totally insipid soup.
The item I really enjoyed, maybe because I haven't had it in years....I just don't recall seeing it on menus is the Tod Man KhaoPod - Fried Corn Fritters. Talk about Thai Street Food...... Not cheap at $3 a pop, but I really enjoyed these.
The sweet corn, the batter, crunch and slightly doughy, with a mild sweetness....I believe the classic recipe uses rice flour. While not quite as savory....versions I've had seemed to have garlic, perhaps scallions, and sometimes even a bit of curry. This was simple, but I enjoyed it. And it displayed the kitchen's ability to fry..... I found the sauce provided a bit too sweet for my taste and pretty one-dimensional.
So, of course I returned, with my co-worker CF in tow for an early quick lunch....we were headed to a meeting that would span the normal lunch hour. On my way out the door on my previous visit, I asked the really friendly young lady for some recommendations. Which I ordered on this visit....along with those corn fritters.
Spicy Noodles with Chicken.
While the stir-fry job was much better this time around, I gotta say this was pretty bland. It lacked sweetness, spice, and the chicken....breast of course was dry as heck.
The corn fritters were nice as before and I also got the Larb Moo Tod...basically deep fried larb. It' seems to be a problematic dish, as when I've had it before, the meatballs, let's not kid ourselves, really just tasted like deep fried meatballs, without the wonderful flavors one would associate with larb.
Now these little orbs were $4....for basically 4 rather small meatballs. And unlike the Tod Man Kha0 Pod, this needed a sauce as other than a nice lemongrass flavor, I found it lacking. I thought it really needed a citrus-sweet-spicy "punch".
The Nam Tok was also just ok.
I was happy when they didn't ask us for a "heat level". not so happy when we got "gringo'd" Not enough of that nutty rice powder, not enough citrus, too sweet, the beef was a bit too tough, no pungency from garlic, and kind of bland (really lacking in fish sauce) overall. I guess ok as a basic "salad" but not even close to what I make at home.....not that I'm expecting that.
Not sure what CF really thought, though he did bring his wife there for those corn fritters and a taste of Beer Lao which they serve. I'm thinking it might be a nice snacking option when visiting Common Theory next door. On my way out the door, the very warm and friendly young lady told me the cook is from Bangkok, so I'll probably revisit in the future....to see if any of their other fried items are as good as the corn fritters.