Disclaimer:I'm neither a fan of Thai cuisine in general nor a vegetarian.
This restaurant just got an over-the-top rave by the East Bay Express. The same family also owns TukTuk and Your Place. So far most of the reviews on Yelp are four and five star with nothing below three star... and only a few of those.
I thought it was ordinary at best. Perhaps the best strategy here is to order the out of the ordinary. The best thing I had was the hot sweet ginger tea ($2) which while very sweet ... truth in advertising ... wasn't as sweet as Thai tea or coffee. It was full of nice fresh ginger flavor. Great on this cold rainy ... monsoon rainy ... day.
I had the lunch special combo ($8.95) which was a chocie each from column a, column b and column c, so to speak
It was served on a large plate. The house salad was straight-from-the-bag spring mix with vinagrette.
The best thing on this dish was the orange dipping sauce topped with chopped peanuts, I'm guessing. It had a little spicy kick to it.
While it is hard to dislike fried-to-order spring rolls, the interior was mainly white gluten with very little zuccini or carrots. If shitake, ginger and cilantro were in it, I couldn't detect them. The texture was like eating a mashed potato spring roll. Nice crispy wrapper though that was not greasy.
In her review, Anneli Rufus says "Vegetarian does not mean low-fat".
The See Eew was like the oiliest version of chow fun noodles that I've had ... the rice noodles exactly like chow fun. There were ... enough ... sliced shitake mushrooms, broccoli pieces and fried tofu peices. It wasn't bad but nothing ... NOTHING ... matched the EBE review raving that "Each dish goes one sly step beyond, packing a clever little secret,"
The complementary wrapped hard candy with the check was tasty.
I realize that almost everywhere the lunch special is usually pedestrian ... and this was. However, it was also too pricey. The portion sizes were fine for lunch but were way out of line with other area lunch specials in the area. At $2 - $3 less, I still wouldnt not have been impressed, but I wouldn'd feel over-charged..
There is nothing that distinguishes itself to deserve that price. There's a million veggie restaurants in the area where for $9 I'd get a better lunch deal. This was a few sprigs of supermarket broccolli, a half cup of salad, maybe one cup of noodles, 1-2 sliced mushrooms, 5 or 6 tofu cubes. and two egg rolls ... nothing was organic. Nine bucks for this would demand organic.
So the best strategy here might be to go with some of the items glowingly described in the review such as the fried-taro appetizer (" Its amber hue evokes the work of Caravaggio "),.
A few different dishes that seem interesting:corn cakes with cucumber-lime sauce, larb tofu, shitake and bamboo shoot soup, tofu in mushroom gravy, taro fried rice, daikon patties, syrup rotee, hot sweet ginger ball soup (big props for desserts other than mango sticky ricke and fried bananas, though they are there)
Check the website for special offers such as 20% off on your birthday or 10% off when showing a YMCA, Yoga, 24 hours member card
A tip from yelp that I forgot about ... Vegetarian prik "nam pla" condiment available on request.
Although it doesn't bill itself as vegan, it seems that yelp vegans like the place.
As for me, I'll wait to see some positive Chowhound reports before revisiting.
The room is very nice and contemorary in shades of gtranny smith apple and mango. The servers are very nice.
Still I say the clock is tickig on the place. I'll be surprised to see it here a year from now. There were only two tables occupied at high noon. One was some moms with kids. Another was some middle aged folks. Customers were very Caucasian. As a person with Polish-American ancestry, I was the most ethnic customer in the house.
Around the corner, Lucky House Thai Cuisine was packed.
2016 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704