At the start of the year, a friend joined me for lunch at the new Esan Classic in the Tenderloin. It shares an owner with Lers Ros, located across the street.
It specializes in the Laotian-Thai (Issan) dishes of northeastern Thailand and offers a contemporary setting.
Koh moo yang, grilled pork shoulder served with chile dipping sauce, was fine. It seemed leaner and drier than the examples I've had at Lers Ros. But that might be a one-off.
Hor mok phing, a tamal-like steamed bundle wrapped in a banana leaf then grilled to infuse with a smoky nuance was our favorite dish. The red chile-stained fish and coconut milk custard also had strips of rock fish fillet and fragrant fresh basil.
Kaeng som dok kai, from the separate menu section of "Thai Meal Soups" was described as shrimp and Sesbania grandiflora (native Esan plant) with house made tamarind and chili broth. The imported green vegetable pods turned out to be completely tasteless, so I can't describe what it tastes like. The large shrimp were cooked beautifully and the broth had a lilting tang, but I would not order this again.
Pla Muk Haeng, described as fried sun dried calamari, turned out to be yellow-stained, grilled giant squid (probably frozen). It tasted fine with the chile dipping sauce, but some of the pieces were too rubbery.
Esan Thai turned out to be a mixed bag for us. Service was pleasant in nice surroundings. But food quality is paramount for me and I'm in no rush to return. Maybe if I need a late night bite.
739 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA
Open daily 11 AM - Midnight
Close during 4 PM - 5 PM