It says everything to me that the highly visible sign for this great Thai restaurant is completely in Thai. The fact that the very sweet waitstaff all spoke Thai to me was another bonus, as my Thai is very limited and very bad, but I still make the effort so that maybe they know not to give me any of the of too common bland American Thai food that is everywhere in NYC. Thai food has become so bland it’s almost tastes like Chinese take away at most restaurants.
Lers Ros is located in a neighborhood called Little Saigon which is in the Tenderloin, so it’s no surprise that the guy who worked at the wine store near my hotel, who recommended it, said it was Vietnamese.
The first thing I noticed when I was handed the menu was the addition of Rabbit, Venison and Alligator to the menu. This was not only amazing authentic Thai food; this was a very adventurous chef. As tempted as I was to order something with Venison or Bunny I did what I almost always do: I ordered Som Tom (green papaya salad), in this instance with Koong Yang (grilled shrimp) and Kang Ped Yang (yang means grilled in Thai, Ped means red and Kang, curry). In Thailand they have no clue about brown rice, it’s all white rice all the time, unless maybe you are in Chiang Mai at a vegetarian place where some hippie has married a Thai guy or gal and decided to shake things up. In San Francisco, not only do they offer brown rice, they give you a big covered bowl of it and when your curry arrives the waitress takes the lid off the bowl and plates it for you! This was no ordinary brown rice either; it was darker and more flavorful than any I’ve ever eaten. It almost looked to me like they had added in some wild rice…but hard to say, all I know is that it was nutty and delicious and the perfect foil to my red curry Duck.
Both my dishes were like they would be in Bangkok. The waitress asked me if I wanted my salad spicy because that is how it is suppose to be but here is usually very mild. One of the first Som Tom’s I ever ate in Bangkok had 18 whole hot Thai chili peppers in it. This wasn’t quit so aggressive but it did strike a wonderful balance of hot/sour and sweet with just a little tasty of briny shrimp to add yet another dimension to this already complex and amazing dish. The Duck in red curry was more coventional, but still of a very high quality and super delicious. This was one of my favorite meals of my entire time in San Francisco. I would eat here weekly if I lived in SF.
My two big dishes plus a glass of wine came to $30.82 plus tip. Either of these dishes would make a meal. The duck is $9.95 so you could easily eat dinner here for about $12.
Go now, go often!