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Baku Cuisine deThai report

susancinsf | Jun 14, 200501:02 PM

Hubby and I had some positive parking karma last night and took advantage of it to try this new place at 15th and Valencia in SF; below is one of only two prior CH threads.

The place was mostly empty when we arrived at seven. Decor is more or less industrial chic, dark and calm, with lots of candles. We were sitted at a comfortable table by the window and immediately brought ice water with slices of lemon. The water glasses were kept full at all times, and service overall was friendly and helpful but not polished. My only real service complaint was that pacing was off (though it wasn't particularly slow, it might have been had they ever had more than three tables filled). Dishes from prior courses weren't cleared for subsequent ones and dessert was brought while we still finishing our mains.

We were given two menus: one for the price fixe that earlier posters had mentioned: four courses for 12.95, served from opening to 7:30, and a regular menu with both Thai and thai/asian fusion options. The Thai options are written in both Engish and Thai. There are several choices per course on the price fixe, other than the soup course, which is listed as a soup du jour. Beer and wine options are extremely limited, with only a few very standard wine selections by the glass. As for beer, the choices are basically Singha and Bud. Sigh...

Hubby ordered the price fix, I chose a la carte. We were brought extra plates and were able to share all of the dishes easily. servings on both options were generous; the price fixe is probably more food than all but the biggest eater would want.

Hubby's price fix choices tended towards the fusion side of the menu. He chose:

Soup du jour, which was pumpkin: This seemed like an odd match to the season and weather, but it was served lukewarm and tasted fresh, lots of nice pumpkin flavor. It could have used a bit of pepper, and none was on table, but otherwise, a hit.

Appetizer: chicken satay. average at best, somewhat overcooked, and the peanut sauce was heavy. No spice in the cucumbers, and no hot sauces on the table.

Main dish: braised beef short ribs with lemongrass and vegetables. These tasted like good old American short ribs in a rather heavy brown sauce with vegetables to me. I couldn't taste any lemongrass or fusion flabors. The ribs came with tasty but lumpy mashed potatos, and simple stir-fried fresh spinach. Enjoyable but not exciting; your basic comfort food. The dish is 13.95 on the regular menu, making the price fix a nice deal, even though I am guessing that the portion was probably smaller than if ordered a la carte.

Dessert: brownie with whipped cream. The cream was the real thing and obviously freshly made. Unfortunately the brownie tasted as though it had been just taken from the fridge. (I really was hoping that hubby would try the ginger creme brulee as his fourth course, but he really wanted chocolate. I am reasonably sure that he made the wrong choice).

My a la carte choices:

A blackboard special called 'Golden Bags'. These were little hand-tied dumplings, filled with various veges including corn, carrots and I think turnips, deep fried, served with a sweet dipping sauce. The highlight of the meal for me, flavorful with not a trace of greasiness.

Beef salad with round thai eggplant: Ordered medium, it was between mild and medium by my standards. I recently had the same dish at Lotus of Siam in Vegas and was curious to compare. The comparison wasn't a fair one: Baku's version had nice sprigs of basil and a good balance of flavors (other than being dummed down a bit), but it was just not fresh and vibrant as it should have been (and as of course it was at LOS), and the cuts of beef included a fair amount of fat and gristle. Probably my least favorite dish, and I don't think I'd order it again.

I was tempted to try the dessert special of the evening, sticky rice with mango (available only a la carte, not on the price fixe), but we had too much food already.

Bill for the above dishes, a side of jasmine rice, four Singhas, and tax and tip: $55.

My bottom line: a pleasant place, good value, and if one chooses carefully, potential for a pretty good meal. However, it isn't a place I'd go out of my way to visit if the parking gods weren't smiling....

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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