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Never Too Much Thai

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A cozy corner at Sophia's Thai Kitchen and Bar. Photo courtesy of Davis Wiki.

You hear the complaints all over town – “Not another Thai restaurant.”

Well I couldn’t disagree more. I love that we have variety. All of the restaurants prepare the foods in different ways. I have favorite dishes at all of the Thai restaurants and love having choices in ambiance and locations. It’s really like saying that there are too many American restaurants in Davis. When you go to an American restaurant, they’re all different. It’s the same with Thai in our town.

These owners have put so much care, thought and hard work into these restaurants. This is their livelihood, their dream. I hate to see that diminished with the comment, “Not another Thai Restaurant.” They’re all unique and all add to our great community.

The community table at Thai Canteen.

So, let’s take a little Thai tour. We’ll start with Davis’ newest Thai addition, Thai Canteen. I had heard from a Coldwell Banker colleague that the food was good. That’s all I had heard. After a dinner at Seasons with my aunt and uncle, Jon and I stopped in on the walk back to our car. We were both instantly surprised at how hip the place was. The décor is modern and fun with bright colors, a concrete bar and a large community table in the front. In the back the tables are smaller for intimate seating, with a large window cut into the back wall with a perfect view into the new, clean kitchen.

It was after 10 p.m. when we stopped in and the place was bustling with students. That’s why I love living in a college town. If it wasn’t for the students, our downtown would be shutdown by 9 p.m. every night. In the back a group of guys were drinking beer out of a large beer tower with a frozen tube of ice in the middle. I snapped their photo and they asked me to take more with their phones for Facebook. They then offered me a beer which I kindly declined. The mood was festive as though everyone was celebrating a new Davis hangout and it was infectious. When we stopped at the bar to visit with the owner one of the Seasons servers was there and introduced himself. He

Thai Canteen's beer tower.

then offered me Sake and we shared a shot glass of the smoothest Sake I’ve ever had. Usually it’s like choking down paint thinner. I can’t wait to go back to try the food. You order at the counter and the food is then cooked to order. This helps to keep the costs down and incorporates the “Canteen” theme. http://www.thaicanteendavis.com/

Now let’s stop by another new Thai restaurant, Taste of Thai. My sister said that it was her favorite Thai restaurant in Sacramento and had been excited it was coming to Davis. Feed Me Sacramento writer Nikki Corbett shared a meal with us there in this story. We first visited this Thai restaurant a month ago and have become fast friends. We’ve been back three times. On the weekends, expect a wait. We were happy to run across the street to enjoy a drink at the full bar at Ket-Mo-Ree on a busy Saturday night, then wander back for our table time. Their Pad Thai is like no other we’ve tried in Davis. It seems to have chili paste in it, or something that gives it a red twinge and a more hearty flavor than the other local Pad Thai’s. It’s now our favorite in town. We’ve also tried the curries which are fine, but our other favorites are their stir fries, especially the ones with eggplant and basil leaves. The décor is great and made to feel like you’re sitting outside in a Thai Village. The service is friendly and we’ve loved all of the dishes we’ve ordered so far. http://daviswiki.org/Taste_of_Thai

Across the street at KetMoRee. We enjoy their full bar, the great service and have a few favorite dishes. Our favorites here are the Fish in a Pot with the great fish sauce on the side and the Mango Salad. We’ve also enjoyed a crispy fish dish and their noodle dishes. All are great, the restaurant is gorgeous, and they have a great Happy Hour and margarita night which are not to be missed. We love nothing more than sitting at the bar on a Tuesday night enjoying a $3 margarita, eating great food and watching a game or chatting with the owner and bartender. They deliver “to go” orders and the delivery is free with orders over $45. http://www.ketmoree.com/

The Pad Thai from Taste of Thai.

The other Thai restaurant in town with a full bar is the ever popular Sophia’s. As soon as you step up at bar Sophia’s, you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical vacation in Thailand. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cocktail and appetizers on their deck or cuddled in the dark on a loveseat with only the glow of the fish tank to light your way. The restaurant in the back is always hopping. I much prefer the bar and have never found a favorite dish in their restaurant, but I know I’m in the minority. We have many friends who swear by the food at Sophia’s. I’m much happier sharing the shrimp fritters (before I was gluten-free) with a cocktail in the bar. Sophia’s is one of Davis’ great late-night bars and offers live music on occasion. http://sophiasthaikitchen.com/

Across the street is our Thai lunchtime go to – Thai Recipes. We’ve know the owner for years as her kids went to school with our middle son. The owner who was usually cooking knew us by our order – Masamam Ghai medium and Praram Tofu – and would always come out to say hello. She’s now in the front and we get to visit right when we walk in. This is a well-lit restaurant that feels more like a little cafeteria although it has full service. For this reason, we enjoy this for lunch but much prefer the Thai restaurants with better ambiance for dinner. Lighting is everything! We did have a meal years ago in the back room. We removed our shoes and sat on the pillows in front of the low tables. We then decided that we were too old for that as the men could barely walk when were finished because their legs had fallen asleep. Jon even ended up on the ground and we left it fits of laughter. Now we just sit at the tables. http://daviswiki.org/Thai_Recipes

In the E Street Plaza is Thai Bistro. This is another well-lit restaurant that could use a little help in the ambiance department, but the food and service are fantastic. This is a good “to go” option as well. They’re always so nice to Logan when we would go in to pick up the food and they have an eggplant dish which is to die for. If there’s live music in the plaza, I recommend a patio seat at Thai Bistro. It can’t be beat and you’ve now solved the ambiance dilemma. http://www.thaibistrodavis.net/

Thai Nakorn is right next to the movie theater on G Street. I’ve eaten there twice before catching a movie. The food was clean, beautiful and yummy. The service was good. It’s another spot that I would consider more for daytime dining since we have others in town with such great nighttime ambiance, but for convenience when seeing a movie, it’s great! Since it’s been awhile since I’ve been there, I pulled up a few of the latest food reviews from Davis Wiki. “This is my favorite Thai place in Davis; I go there (or get takeout) probably once a month or so. But last time I was a little disappointed: the green papaya salad was rather lacking in hotness. But free refills on Thai iced coffee? That rocks.” And, “The food is great, I always get the duck curry, and you can get extra rice with that too, making the proportions very generous. The people there are very friendly, and I would say this is the best Thai restaurant in Davis in terms of the portions for the cost, and the quality of the food.” http://www.thainakorndavis.com/

Our final stop on the Thai tour is Thai Kow which is housed in the old Cindy’s location. There was nothing better than having a big breakfast at Cindy’s with the waitresses who’d been there forever, the lopsided booth benches and the huge glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice. They have mixed reviews on Davis Wiki. The location is a hurdle for me, but if I still lived in South Davis, I’m sure I would be a regular. If you’d like to share your experience at Thai Kow with us, please comment below. http://daviswiki.org/Kow_Thai_restaurant

So, let’s embrace our Thai Restaurant neighbors, thank them for being in Davis, and enjoy the choices they offer us.




10 Responses to Never Too Much Thai

  1. avatar
    Nancy Hilden March 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Competition may eventually sift out the less remarkable Thai restaurants in Davis. It’s sad though to see someone invest a lot of money in a restaurant that will close because of too many similar restaurants. It’s happened in Davis before when we had great sandwich shops like Kathy’s Corners and ice cream shops like Vic’s and another opened down the street. None could weather the storm, and unfortunately we never got a replacement that was as good as the first. Sophias has a great reputation. Some of the others are pre-cooking their vegetables and letting them sit in the refrigerator until they get an order, which is really awful

  2. avatar
    Diane S. March 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    I’ve been to Ket Mo Ree 3 times, the last 2 reluctantly because of the awful service! The servers I’ve had seem to want to be anywhere but there as their smile-less faces prove. Never again

  3. avatar
    Cary Arnold March 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Diane, that’s what’s great about having all of these Thai choices! We only eat at the KetMoRee bar and have had great service. Thanks for the feedback… It will help others when making their Thai dining decision.

  4. avatar
    Cary Arnold March 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Yes, good point Nancy! I believe in good old fashioned competition. I do miss Vic’s dearly though. Growing up I only ordered the Mocha Chip or Peppermint ice cream, then would peruse the shelves at Lee’s Drugs.

  5. avatar
    David Burmester March 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    I have to agree with Nancy Hilden. I hate to see restaurants knock each other off. I’ve lost count of the number of Thai restaurants on G street alone. I don’t know how these folks stay in business. In the meantime, we can no longer get tapas in Davis, we’re back to one Italian restaurant, and we haven’t had anything resembling a French restaurant since the Crepe Bistro closed its doors (and no, Crepeville does not fill that gap, though it makes decent American crepes). Frankly, the only variety available to us is in Asian restaurants, and though I understand the popularity of these places, the mere preponderance of Asian restaurants makes it harder to open a non-Asian restaurant. One can only run through Seasons, Bistro 33, Cafe Bernardo, and Monticello so many times before deciding to take a drive into Sacramento. Thanks for putting this up, Cary. It’s interesting to hear opinions on this topic.

  6. avatar
    Cary Arnold March 18, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    You bet David! I guess I never thought of them “knocking each other off,” I just wanted to people to celebrate the differences and support our local Thai restaurant owners. What do you mean only one Italian restaurant? Did I miss something?

  7. avatar
    Bev Syeks March 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Thanks for the suggestion of duck curry at Thai Nakorn. We went there tonight since they were doing a fund raiser for Japan earthquake relief. I usually get pad thai, but decided to try the duck and it was fabulous!

  8. avatar
    Cary Arnold March 25, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Bev, That was a suggestion from a Davis Wiki reviewer! I’m glad it proved to be helpful! I’m looking forward to trying it myself!

  9. avatar
    David Burmester March 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Oops! Two: Caffe Italia and Osteria Fasulo. Am I missing any others? Still, my point is that while we have a vast variety of Asian restaurants in town, the same cannot be said of European dining.

  10. avatar
    Cary Arnold March 28, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    And we have another new Italian restaurant in the Marketplace that I’m looking forward to trying. I hear that they’re part of the Mary’s Pizza Shack chain, but it’s a different brand. We’ll try to bring that to our readers soon.