Lers Ros Thai can lay claim to the title of best Thai food in San Francisco, say hounds who’ve visited this Tenderloin joint where the roasted chile paste and curry pastes are made in-house. Quite a few of the authentic dishes on offer here aren’t on the menus of other Thai restaurants, either because the flavors are considered too “sharp” for Western palates (salted fish salad) or because the names just don’t translate well (house special soup with pork entrails).
Overall, ingredients are fresh and seasonings are complex, says sfbing, while the 120-plus-item menu “is either daunting or exciting depending on your point of view.” The brightly flavored silver noodle salad is excellent: “The noodles were perfectly done here without clumping, the peanuts were fresh, the dried shrimp were tasty, and the dish had a cooling sour flavor with a heat that gradually built up.” Grilled pork shoulder (koh moo yang) is juicy and flavorful, and stir-fried pork with crispy rind and Chinese broccoli is intensely savory.
Dave MP thinks this place outdoes his usual Thai haunts. Thai herb sausage (#4) is packed with lemongrass, flavorful enough to be fine without dipping sauce (which is good, because it doesn’t come with any, although you get a garnish of peanuts, chiles, and sliced ginger). Pork leg with five spices (#53, kao kha moo) is really, really good: a generous serving of both fat and lean meat, piled on a bed of pickled mustard greens and fresh Chinese broccoli.
There are three kinds of papaya salad: with grilled prawns, crab, or salted eggs. The papaya slices are largish and irregular, as if they were cut (sloppily) by hand. Dave MP thought the dressing was well-balanced, but felice points out that since the papaya pieces are big and don’t get pounded enough, the flavors don’t permeate it properly. Note that the crab variation just comes with bits of salted crab for flavor, not hunks of Dungeness.
Haven’t had enough? Order anything with the house-roasted chile paste, its flavors better than anything from a jar, says felice. Or go for osho’s favorite combination: deep-fried whole tilapia with a Fat Tire ale. And, finally, David Wishart, who first posted on this place shortly after its opening last fall, recommends the wild boar (stir-fried with galangal, chile, and peppercorns); it’s tender enough to be mistaken for pork, and comes in a nicely rounded sauce.
Lers Ros Thai [Tenderloin]
730 Larkin Street, San Francisco