Review: Tamarind Hall

YAM MAKUA YAO, SALMON CEVICHE

YAM MAKUA YAO, SALMON CEVICHE

I love Thai food – even more so since my recent trip to Bangkok – and we have options aplenty in San Francisco. Quantity, however, does not necessarily equal quality – it’s way more challenging to get good Thai food than one would expect.

THAI COLLINS

THAI COLLINS

I do have my go-to spots (i.e. Marnee Thai in the Outer Sunset and Ler Ros Thai in Hayes Valley and the Tenderloin), but they're better suited for takeout/casual dining. There are few, if any, fancier alternatives offering modern Thai food in an upscale environment.

TAMARIND HALL'S FULL BAR

TAMARIND HALL'S FULL BAR

Thankfully, the newly opened Tamarind Hall in North Beach – named after a sour fruit often used in Thai cuisine – has emerged to fill that void.

SAI UA + NAMPRIK NOOM

SAI UA + NAMPRIK NOOM

While they do serve old favorites like Pad Thai, they also have authentic Thai street food items that you'd be hard-pressed to find outside of BKK, like Yam Makua Yao (tender grilled eggplant with soft cooked duck eggs, mint, coriander, house-cured bacon and crispy garlic – a fantastic combination of textures) and Sai Ua and Namprik Noom (Chiang Mai sausage, spicy young pepper relish, pork cracklings, seasonal herbs and sticky rice – basically all my favorite flavors in one bite).

SALMON CEVICHE

SALMON CEVICHE

SALMON CEVICHE, YAM MAKUA YAO

SALMON CEVICHE, YAM MAKUA YAO

Some dishes draw inspiration from local ingredients, such as their Salmon Ceviche – but it was given a fun Thai spin with fresh mango, lemongrass and edible flowers.

KHAO SOY GAI CURRY NOODLE SOUP

KHAO SOY GAI CURRY NOODLE SOUP

Others stay true to the classic format, such as their Khao Soy Gai Curry Noodle Soup (a northern Thai curry noodle soup with a chicken drumstick, pickled mustard greens, shallots, a boiled egg, beansprouts and lime), the epitome of Asian comfort food. The broth was rich and creamy, and the noodles – a mix of tender rice noodles and crispy fried noodles – added a nice contrast in textures.

SAI UA + NAMPRIK NOOM, YAM MAKUA YAO and SALMON CEVICHE

SAI UA + NAMPRIK NOOM, YAM MAKUA YAO and SALMON CEVICHE

The drinks were the icing on the cake. Tamarind Hall has a full bar staffed by well-trained mixologists who work with native Thai ingredients like tamarind syrup, Singha beer and fresh mango. We ordered the Thai Collins (Bombay sapphire, lime, cucumber and palm sugar) and the SF to Bangkok (Skyy coconut-infused vodka, coconut juice and fresh coconut), and both were dangerously delicious.

SF TO BANGKOK, THAI COLLINS

SF TO BANGKOK, THAI COLLINS

So the next time you're craving craft cocktails alongside your green curry, you know where to go!

Tamarind Hall. 1268 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133.