After reading about Lers Ros Thai on chowhound (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563062), two friends and I gave it a try last night. Overall, I thought it was great, and it may be the best Thai I've had in SF.
The menu is a bit puzzling, and there are language barriers even with the waitresses, who speak pretty good English but couldn't fully answer all of my questions. For example, there is a section of the menu called "Rice Soup" which I thought would be congee or would have rice related dishes - but we ordered the salted egg salad from this section, and it contained no rice at all. Is it supposed to be eaten with rice soup? I was confused. We shared:
#13 - Som Tom Koong Yang - Papaya salad w/ grilled prawns. This came out first, and it was spicy! We were not asked how spicy we wanted our food, and considering we didn't even ask to make it spicy, I thought the heat level was impressive. Like others mentioned, the papaya slices were rather large (almost seemed hand cut), but I thought it tasted very fresh and was seasoned perfectly with a good balance of chili, lime and fish sauce. The grilled shrimp were also soaked in the sauce, and were cooked well. This came garnished with some cabbage, which we ended up eating as it helped cool our mouths. I would definitely order this again.
#4 - Thai Herb Sausage - After hearing about this dish, I knew I wanted it, and I was not disappointed. I really like SE Asian sausages, and I thought this was as good (if not better) than the sausage at Champa Garden in Oakland. The sausage was cooked medium, and served on a bed of lettuce with various condiments (peanuts, chilis, sliced ginger). No dipping sauce, but it was flavorful (lots of lemongrass) without any.
#53 - Kao Kha Moo - Pork leg w/ five spices. We got this a la carte, and it was a large serving of pork - a good portion of both fat and lean meat. This was all piled on a bed of pickled mustard greens and fresh chinese broccoli. This came with a dipping sauce, which I found on the sweet side, but I was impressed with the pork and both veggies. Really good, compares well with the version at Thai House Express - the veggies were certainly better, though the pork at THE is perhaps a bit more to my taste. But it's very close.
unnumbered - Yum Kai Khem - Salted egg salad with fresh lime and chili dressing, from the Rice Soup section. A small was $3.50. The salted eggs were indeed quite salty, but I liked the combination of flavors in this salad, and it went well with the spicier items on the table.
#79 - Rad nah - I don't usually enjoy this dish, but I thought it was great here. The gravy had lots of cornstarch and it was a bit gloopy, but the flavor was excellent. The pieces of pork were tender and tasty, and the noodles had good wok flavor despite being covered in gravy. This was mild and came out last - a nice ending to the meal.
After all the food was on the table, one of the waitresses commented that we had ordered well and had chosen authentic Thai dishes. She asked me how I knew about these foods, and I replied that I read about them and that I hadn't even ever been to Thailand. It seemed like a good number of the diners were Thai though, and we saw some interesting things on other tables. I had a small taste from a neighboring table of the #110, Kaeng Som Cha-Om Khai Tod, which is fried egg and acacia in a tamarind/chili broth - served in a hot pot on the table. The egg and acacia were in omelet-like pieces in the soup - I didn't love the little fried omelets, but I thought the broth was excellent.
It wasn't very crowded on Friday night - I was expecting it to be packed, but it was only 3/4 full at its peak. The menu is overwhelmingly big - last night they had two alligator specials on a board on the wall.
We had two orders of sticky rice (they were small indeed), and the amount of food we had was more than enough for 3 people. Total bill before tip was $38, which I thought was a great deal. I did not think servings were small (as others had commented) but perhaps it depends on what you order? But servings of things like papaya salad and the noodles were pretty typical.
I definitely recommend trying this place, and I'll definitely be back.
Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA
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