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Thai Tastes and Monday Night Football at Ozone, SF

Melanie Wong | Nov 27, 200409:13 PM

Intrigued by HJ's post about a Thai restaurant in a karaoke bar atop Subway Sandwiches, we stopped by Monday night for a casual dinner. Slick and modern interior with window tables overlooking the street scene from high above Polk and Sutter, an area for karaoke with a giant screen, and a long bar with TVs overhead tuned to football. Though disappointed to have just missed happy hour (25% off before 6:30pm), my friend was pleased at the chance to watch the game and ordered an Anchor Steam on draft. The place was pretty desserted, only one other couple at a table and a handful of Thai hipsters watching the game at the bar. I wondered if HJ was here for a regular Monday night meal, but the other pair seemed to be ordering white bread dishes.

The menu is very extensive with many interesting and unique Thai dishes. We focused on the end of the menu listing of small plates and picked a different sampling than HJ reported on.

With an order of three small plates, a big bowl of plain white rice porridge is complimentary. My friend made an exception to his pad si eew rule for first visits, when the description of the Ozone special noodles caught his eye and our server recommended it.

The photo below shows the spread we got for our $40 (including tax and tip). The three small plates from left to right: ground pork with olive, gai lan and duck in sweet soy sauce, and preserved egg salad. Coincidentally, all three were Chinese-Thai style dishes. With the noodles, complimentary porridge, and a draft beer, we had enough for three people and had ample leftovers to take home.

My favorite was the ground pork with olive with moist nubby bits of pork blended with earthy, briny minced olives. This was less gritty and hard than the version at Ruen Pair (less like asphalt!) with a sweeter taste. I loved it with the plain porridge and for the salty-oily black stain it left on the soupy white rice backdrop.

My companion favored the marinated duck dish. The coarsely shredded meat was succulent and rich with a deep and complex master sauce, just lovely with the rice porridge too. The Chinese broccoli was old and tough, but I just ignored it.

The third dish, the preserved egg salad, fell out for both of us. Even though I'm not a big fan of thousand year-old eggs generally, I wanted to try it, but was not won over. It was a generous serving with three preserved eggs sliced in half and topped with julienned sweet pickles, red and green peppers, onions and cilantro in a tart-sweet dressing. Even after I cut the black egg into smaller pieces, the garnishes never penetrated or came together with the aged flavor for me.

The Ozone special noodles were delicious too with slivers of roast duck, fresh veggies (unfortunately tough gai lan again), and a well-turned spicy chili heat. While the fine egg noodles were clumped together and not well-mixed, they soaked up the flavors nicely nonetheless.

An annoying housefly buzzed our table and eventually dive-bombed into the big bowl of rice porridge. The server replaced it without protest when we asked. He was very nice and helpful. He told us that the Osha group had sold out and that Ozone had new Thai owners now.

The wine list is weak, but there's a long list of sake cocktails and beer on tap. The disapproving look from my dinner companion at the idea of sake-tinis kept me from ordering one. (g) I liked the food and room a great deal and look forward to trying more from the varied menu. Besides watching football here, the happy hour discount and proximity to the theatres will make it a good pre-movie dinner spot.



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