Monday, June 16, 2008

new favorite thai

Fillmore at Broadway

We found one of our favorite views of the city tonight. At Fillmore and Broadway, if you look out across the Marina, you can see the sprawl of the northwestern part of SF, and the Golden Gate bridge. We stopped there for a few minutes as the sun was setting, which gave the sky a beautiful gradient of hues.
Heading north, we started looking for a dinner spot. Mr.S has had nothing but raves about Osha, a modern Thai restaurant, so we stepped into their Union St. location, one of 5 branches across the city. It had that uber-trendy lounge feel to it as you walked in, mixed with the exoticism from the decor and the spices that permeated the dining area. The interior had a clean, uncluttered aesthetic to it, and incorporated a lot of white lucite furniture everywhere. It felt like we were in some sort of modern, Asian space capsule.

There's a strong pan-Asian influence to the menu, blending traditional Thai dishes with ones distinctly Japanese, Indian and Vietnamese. I always go into such restaurants now with reservations, somewhat lowering my expectations, simply because I've had one too many overly-sweet, fish sauce-saturated meals.

To start, there were a few choices that sounded pretty tasty- crispy tofu with sweet sour plum dipping sauce, Angel Wings (fried chicken wings in a homemade sauce with crispy basil), Thai samosas, and beef wasabi rolls. I let Mr.S choose since he'd been here plenty of times before. The beef wasabi rolls arrived at our table a few minutes later, 5 rolls, each sitting in a small pool of wasabi sauce and chopped watercress.

It was a sensory explosion. The beef, tender and well-grilled, tasted much like Korean bulgoki with strong notes of sesame oil and soy. It was stuffed with slivers of crunchy carrot, celery and mint. The best part was the wasabi sauce which infiltrated every corner and crevice of my sinuses, making me tear up and choke back a cough. It was awesome. I couldn't stop going back for more. The thing about good food is that you're willing to endure just about any amount of physical pain to get it.

Usually always ordering some type of curry dish or fried noodles at Thai restaurants, this time I opted for the grilled sea bass lettuce cups. (Though the Kabocha squash curry looked excellent as well... next time.) My plate came with only one medium filet of sea bass, but it's ok since it was an appetizer salad. The kitchen was generous with the sides of diced mango, red and green peppers, red onion, ginger and lemongrass, and roasted peanuts. Each piece of bibb lettuce was layered with a small square of rice sheet. The spicy cilantro dipping sauce was wonderfully aromatic, sweet, sour and spicy all at once, reminisent of a similar Indian green chutney made with cilantro and lime juice.

The flavors married together perfectly, like a concert in my mouth, there was just so much going on with taste and texture. I love sea bass for its high oil content. Its butteriness was nicely complimented by all the spice and acid from the all the sides. Not once did I lift my head to talk to Mr.S; that's the sign of a very happy me enjoying my meal.

I was offered a bite of Mr.S's spicy sweet chicken with basil. It was deeply flavored, and I liked how Osha uses a roughly ground chicken, instead of chicken slices, in this dish. The smaller pieces soak up the marinade much better and you can eat it with a spoon! (I love eating everything with a spoon; it's a comfort thing.)

I looked up after cleaning my plate, sighed and leaned back, completely satisfied. The food, not only was it heavily seasoned and delicious, it was fun, and stepped outside the box of traditional Thai. It incorporated elements of numerous types of Asian cuisine, not afraid to fuse different flavors and spices all in one dish. I like adventurous; I like flavor.

Osha also has a girl-friendly drink menu, perfect for a group of girlfriends out on a Friday night. There's a lychee martini that I'm waiting to try. Perhaps it will bump down Dragonfly's version down to number 2 on my awesome-lychee-martini list. There's also a green tea mojito that sounded interesting as well. I'm certainly counting the days until I go back again.

Osha Thai

2033 Union Street SF, CA 94110

Osha Thai on Urbanspoon


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