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Restaurants & Bars 11

Chowdown at Lers Ros - Report

mariacarmen | Jan 24, 201109:35 PM

Six of us met at Lers Ros for an early dinner tonight. We’d done our research from prior posts and had notes. I think only one of had ever been there before.

We ordered:

#4 Thai Herb Sausage
#27 Tom Kha Gai
#25 Larb Phed Yang (Duck larb)
#113 Pla trout Tod Nam Pla (Whole trout)
#62 Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob (Crispy pork belly, ala carte)
#14 Som tom Khai Khem (Green papaya salad with salted egg)
Something off the specials board – written in Thai and translated by a server as shrimp paste with fish and vegetables.
And dessert was sticky rice with coconut and a scoop of toasted almond ice cream.

Loved the sausage – very heavy notes of lemongrass, and someone else noted kefir lime. Smokey, good texture, hearty, and a very good portion for 6 to share.

We ordered the tom kha because someone had heard it was the best around. Don’t know what is traditional, but I think most of us found it rather thin, wanting it to be a little creamier. It was tasty, with a nice brightness, but certainly not the best rendition I’ve ever had. (I have to say I really prefer Osha Thai’s version – the one on Valencia.)

The duck larb was wonderful. Rich and fatty but not overly so. The duck flavor stood out cleanly from the tangy chilli powder and lime dressing. It was described on the menu as “chunk of roasted duck” as opposed to minced like the pork larb, but the server said it was chopped up, and it was. I could have eaten this dish all by myself.

The whole trout was another winner. Really crispy, but tender inside, salty, with a great sauce on the side of mango and chilis. The menu states it is guaranteed fresh every day. They crisp the spine up so you can eat it like really crunchy potato chips. I could not stop eating the skin.

The pork belly was fantastic too – just like chicharrones, with a crispy, fatty rind, and sprinkled with basil. We had been looking for the pork shoulder some on CH recommended, but couldn’t find it; I just now, in re-reviewing the menu at home, found a pork shoulder in one of the salads (#17). I would have gladly had another pork dish.

The papaya salad was the only real miss, for me. It was a bit spicier than everything else (though I truly found nothing really spicy here – of course, we ordered it only medium-spicy, and I didn’t see any of the usual condiments on any of the tables; I could have asked but I was too busy eating), but the salted egg was not detectable to me as a flavor, only as a bit of a mushy texture with the papaya. It wasn’t bad, but next to all the other stand-outs, it wasn’t anything special at all.

The item we ordered off the Specials board was a bit of a puzzler. We ordered it to be adventurous and instead of a curry, reasoning that we’d all had thai curries before. The dish consisted of fish, fresh veggies, a bowl of shrimp paste, and little frittata-like pieces. The fish seemed to be a kind of mackerel, fried and crispy, so much so that there was not much meat and a lot of bones – those spindly little needle bones that get stuck in your throat if you’re not careful. The shrimp paste sauce was really strong when I first had it with the fish, but I think I determined that with the veggies and the little triangles of veggie omelet it was quite good. The mackerel itself was fairly strong tasting. The veggies included fat slices of cucumber, lightly steamed broccoli, quartered whole raw thai eggplants, and bamboo shoots. I think that was all. I really loved the little omelet slices – very green tasting and a good texture contrast to the veggies. I also very much liked the raw eggplant, which surprised me. The broccoli was perfectly steamed to crisp/tender, and the cucumber was very soothing. But, probably wouldn’t order this dish again.

We were absolutely stuffed, but “had” to have a taste of the sticky rice with coconut, and the toasted almond ice cream sounded interesting. We ordered one to split, and it was a generous portion. The rice was delicious and warm and buttery, with a clean coconut taste coming through, and a scoop of not-too-sweet almond-y ice cream alongside.

Five of us had a beer apiece, and I think we ended up paying $22 per person, which included a decent tip.

These were mostly dishes I had never had before, and in that respect, this place lives up to its hype. The only things that really suffered were the more “standard” dishes – the tom kha and the papaya salad. The special was just a bit odd and not particularly delicious. But of everything else we had – the sausage, the duck, the pork and the trout – I would definitely go back for those items. And now I want to try their curries.

Thanks all! Pics below.

Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

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