Lers Ros Thai

I was pretty excited when my dad came to visit.  He had been reading about the new street food explosion going on here and was intrigued by both the food and the way the vendors were using the internet to reach their customer base.  Two things my dad really likes are food and “million dollar ideas.”  Unfortunately for him, twitter was pretty quiet the day he rolled into town; I couldn’t find anything about the carts being out that evening.  So, our main event being derailed, we had to come up with new dinner plans.  Steve and I have a running mental list of places that would be good to take my dad when he’s in town.  I started rattling some off, Magnolia, Laiola, Hard Knox…but without much enthusiasm because I knew if we were going to go too far from my house that my dad would want to drive, and I wasn’t really in the mood for all that hassle.  Dad gets a little aggro driving here, and parking is such a pain most of the time.  Then I had a flash of brilliance.  Lers Ros!  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought before to put Lers Ros on the list because my dad is really into Thai food.  One of his favorite places in Sacramento, where I grew up, is a super tiny hole in the wall Thai place.  I have a vivid memory of going there one summer in my late teens with my dad and a couple of his friends.  It was one of the hottest summers I’d ever lived and the restaurant had no air conditioning.  The guys ordered a bunch of super spicy food and proceeded to eat and sweat and sweat and sweat and sweat…it was pretty gross, but the food was awesome, better than most of the Thai you find in San Francisco. 

So I told dad about how I really liked Lers Ros (Steve and I had eaten there a couple times before) and how it was supposed to be the most authentic Thai food in San Francisco, and how you could get some real spicy stuff there.  He was excited.  He was also excited that our visit would count towards this blog, because he is very supportive of my endeavors (Thanks dad!).  Especially if he thinks there could be a way to monetize them, which is what most of our dinnertime discussion was about.

We kicked it off with a couple of Singhas.  Check out my dad’s gold bracelet, what a baller huh?  We looked over the extensive menu and my dad decided we should order more than the two of us could eat so we could try more dishes.  This is why it kind of sucks to go to a family style restaurant with only two people, unless you are dying for a bunch of leftovers you will probably be filled with regret over what you didn’t order.  I was still kind of regretful that we didn’t get anything off the specials menu:

No venison or alligator for us this time.  One day I’ll have to try it.  Still we ended up with some exciting dishes.  First was the #10, Garlic Quail ($7.95)

Crunchy, bone-filled and garlicky.  SOOOOOOO garlicky.  My favorite part of this dish was actually the deep fried garlic that was left after we devoured all of the quail.  The quail itself was delish too, and I really liked the dipping sauce, it was thick, kind of similar to ketchup, and very salty with a hint of heat, it tasted like it had been made from some sort of preserved vegetable.  I want to eat this as much as possible. 

Our soup came out next, the Tom Yum Koong, #28 ($7.95)

I thought I captured it in this picture but I guess I didn’t, but there was fire coming out of the top of this soup pot!  Very dramatic.  I wanted to order Tom Yum soup instead of the Tom Kha because I like the Tom Kha, but find the richness of the coconut milk based broth to be a little too much for me.  The thin broth of the Tom Yum suits me better.  I was a little surprised then to see the obvious milkiness of this Tom Yum, but though I could see it the flavor and texture of the broth didn’t reflect what I saw.  There was a hint of creaminess, but just a hint.

The flavor of the soup also ignored the presence of whole dried chiles, this soup was more sweet than spicy.  Though it did heat up later, I ate some of the leftover soup when I got home that night and I had to gargle with milk; I thought my lips were going to burn off.  But at the restaurant everything was mild.  The soup was populated with sweet fresh prawns and pale meaty mushrooms of a variety that I am unfamiliar with, but that I’d like to get to know better. 

When the #36, Kang Keaw Wan (green curry with Thai eggplant that we ordered with pork) arrived

I was wondering what the green seeded wedges were.  I thought they might be green tomatoes, the color and crunchiness were similar to that veggie, but the flavor not so much.  I was munching away when my dad mentioned that the eggplant were interesting.  Duh, those green wedges were the Thai eggplant!  I was expecting the purple skinned eggplant you usually see in curries in San Francisco, slimy and slick with oil.  That was why this was the dish we’d ordered that I was least looking forward to, I’m usually not a fan of Thai curries because they tend to be overpoweringly hot bowls of mush.  That was not the case here, there was a slight heat (for some reason nothing we got this trip was very spicy, though in past visits everything has been hot) but the flavor of the curry could still shine through, and, like the eggplant, all of the veggies retained a bit of their fresh bite. 

Our last dish was #79, Rad Nah

My dad had tried to order this dish super Thai hot, but I was pretty sure he wouldn’t get it that way.  I tried to explain to him that the menu description mentioned gravy sauce, and that didn’t, in my experience, mean spicy.  When the dish came out it was even more evident that we wouldn’t be burning our mouths on it.  The appearance of the dish was disconcerting to both of us, it looked like just a big plate of gloop.  I think it turned out being the favorite dish of the meal.  The gravy was rich and not too thick.  The pork was soft and sweet, almost melting in the mouth.  The gui long, or Chinese broccoli, a favorite vegetable of my dad’s, was crunchy and earthy and sweet.  The noodles were perfectly cooked, a little chewy, slippery and with a charred, smoky flavor.  A pretty perfect plate all in all. 

We left Lers Ros totally stuffed and completely content.  I have hardly been able to stop thinking about going back.  I like everything about it, I like the food, I like the space, I like the music they play,  I like the friendly waitresses, I like the young people who eat there.  Lers Ros is one of my favorite restaurants in the Tenderloin, and definitely my favorite Thai restaurant in San Francisco. 

Lers Ros

730 Larkin


They totally deliver!  How awesome is that?

2 thoughts on “Lers Ros Thai

  1. Hi!
    Love the blog and the great photos of the food. I also live in this neighborhood and I’m constantly amazed at all the tasty and varied food options here. I recommend also trying Turtle Tower’s chicken pho and Cafe Zitouna’s b’stilla and tagines.

    Lers Ros has also become my favorite Thai restaurant as well and the high bar for all other Thai restaurants. My must-have is the pork belly with crispy skin.

    Looking forward to more reviews! Cheers.

    • Hi Patrick, it’s nice to know people are enjoying the blog. You mentioned two of my favorite places; Cafe Zitouna is probably my very fave in the city. Have you been to Ngoc Mai? It doesn’t look like much, but it’s worth checking out. Thanks for the props!

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