San Francisco serves food from all around the globe, ranging from Mexican to Chinese to Indian. This weekend I was in the mood for some Thai food, so I decided to check out the best restaurants near USF. Luckily, we have two great spots for Thai food within a mile of campus.
The first, Ploy II Thai Cuisine, is an old Victorian house on Haight Street that has been renovated into a charming Thai restaurant. As soon as you walk through the door and up the stairs, you are greeted by a quaint and homey atmosphere. The restaurant is adorned with flowers, fairy lights, and Buddhist figures. The ambiance truly makes you feel like you are dining in someone’s home; as do the servers, who are both friendly and efficient.
The first thing I ordered was the Thai Iced Tea, which was perfect in taste and consistency. The drink was very smooth, sweet, and creamy, pairing well with my Vegetarian Pad Thai.The Pad Thai was the perfect combination of salty and sweet; it was full-flavored and had a delicate texture. All of the vegetables in the Pad Thai were soft and well seasoned, and the crunchy bean sprouts really complemented the soft noodles, making for a balanced meal. The total for the Thai Iced Tea and Pad Thai was $12.45. Not only was this meal delicious, it was quite affordable. Ploy II is perfect for students who are on a budget and craving a home cooked meal.
Then there is Sa-Beang Thai, located on Divisadero and Oak, which is a bit more upscale and modern. Along the wall, there are small wooden tables of two, then large leather booths in the center. The restaurant has high ceilings, and offers more open space than Ploy II. The darker color palette gives off a contemporary feel, but it channels tradition through its décor, with Buddhist figures, paintings, decorative cushions, and tea lights. The menu provides a wider variety of options, and the meals are on average a bit pricier than Ploy II’s. The service at Sa-Beang is equally pleasant, attentive, and welcoming.
Here, I also ordered the Thai Iced Tea. It was more herbal than creamy, but equally delicious and refreshing. The Pad Thai, however, was not as authentic as the one at Ploy II. The sauce was a bit overwhelming, as it was more tart than sweet, and the vegetables were less tender. The noodles, however, had a nice texture, and again, the bean sprouts were a nice complement. The total for my meal was about the same, at $13. This meal was quite good, but Ploy II definitely has the leg up in my book.
Ploy II and Sa-Beang are both delicious Thai restaurants, and in the end, it boils down to personal preference. Ploy II serves more authentic Thai cuisine and offers a more welcoming atmosphere, but Sa-Beang’s aesthetic is more suitable for a night out with friends.
312 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
1770 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Photo courtesy of Brianna De Jusus-Banos/Foghorn