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Food & Drink

Thai food is booming in SF, and a new spot in West Portal proves it

A young restaurant duo solidifies the city's Thai food renaissance. Plus: The hottest pasta on the block and a minty, summer cocktail.

Panang curry with sliced duck at Khao Tiew
Sous vide duck breast panang curry at Khao Tiew is just one example of the restaurant's modern take on Thai. | Source: Courtesy Khao Tiew

This is All Things Consumed, a weekly column by The Standard’s eaters-at-large featuring three great dishes we’ve eaten and one cocktail we’d happily drink again and again.

Duck breast panang curry at Khao Tiew

Not long ago, choosing which Thai restaurant to go to in SF was a futile exercise in selecting one just-OK pad see ew over another. But San Francisco is having a Thai cuisine renaissance, kicked off by restaurants like Nari and Prik Hom. The newest spot worth celebrating? Khao Tiew on an out-of-the-way corner of West Portal.

Fried rice with beef and soy-cured egg at Khao Tiew
Khao pad mun nuer with soy-cured egg yolk is served at Khao Tiew. | Source: Courtesy Khao Tiew

Chef Wipada Rattanapun and her front-of-the-house partner Arkaranit Dusitnitsakul opened the restaurant in March; previously, the young duo had spent the pandemic serving up street food like spicy won tons at their Sowl Bowls stand at the Stonestown Farmers Market, where they still pop up on Sundays. Their new restaurant serves up classics such as khao soi, a coconut milk noodle soup from Rattanapun’s home in Northern Thailand, as well as classics reconfigured, such as a silky, spicy panang curry, served with a fan of sous vide-tender duck breast, and fried rice emboldened with beef tallow and topped with medium-rare beef and a soy-cured egg. But the dish that won my heart was the least showy of all—a nourishing, limey chicken-and-herb soup with a tangle of fragrant tamarind stems and makrut lime leaves. I inhaled it. —SD

💰 $26
📍Khao Tiew, 272 Claremont Blvd., West Portal, San Francisco

Corn ravioli and fava bean pesto pasta at Pasta Supply Co.
The corn ravioli with fried peppercorns and fava bean pesto with fava campanelle at Pasta Supply Co. | Source: Sara Deseran/The Standard

Corn ravioli with sauerkraut butter at Pasta Supply Co.

Chef Anthony Strong, best known for his time at Pizzeria Delfina and Locanda, hit the ground running when he opened his hip pasta shop-and-restaurant hybrid in the Richmond last March. Today, no reservations are taken at Pasta Supply Co., and the lines for dine-in are long but move quickly. The pasta case displays all sorts of tempting shapes to pair with an infinite selection of sauces, many of which—like a Calabrian chile-Chinese XO mashup—are delightfully not part of the average nonna repertoire. 

In T-Minus two weeks, Strong is poised to open the doors of his second location, this one in the Mission, where he’ll be offering cooking classes to boot. Until then, the Clement Street location will give you a taste of what’s to come. An addictive salad of mixed chicories is topped with crispy breadcrumbs and an oozy, soft-cooked egg. A fava bean campanelle coated thickly with mild and creamy fava bean pesto is a spring double-down. But it’s the ravioli filled with corn and polenta, sauced with a tangy sauerkraut butter and sprinkled with spicy, cracked, fried peppercorns—crunchy little wake-up calls to all that sweetness—that sums up Strong’s sensibility. It’s a quirky headscratcher of a pasta that, once put in your mouth, turns out to be pure genius. —SD

💰 $22
📍Pasta Supply Co., 236 Clement St., Inner Richmond, San Francisco 

Mexican pastries from Norte 54 in San Francisco
The caracol (front and center) from Norte 54 is filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate. | Source: Sara Deseran/The Standard

The caracol by Norte 54

Raquel Goldman has been making pastries in the tradition of her native Mexico since she started popping up as Norte 54 at farmers’ markets at the start of the pandemic. The pastry chef bakes up a delightful rendition of a chocolate-covered and strawberry jam-filled Gansito, kind of the Ho-Ho of Mexican bodegas, while also mastering the traditional concha. But until now, she’d never tried to make a caracol, which has a similar dough to the concha, just with more hydration and overnight fermentation. (You can watch her process here.) Swirled in shape and topped with chocolate, the pastry cream is baked right into it. This means a bite into the soft pan dulce can be a squidgy, messy affair—one that is well worth it. —SD

💰 $5 each
📍Norte 54, Mission Community Market, Mission District, 84 Barlett St., San Francisco

The Equinox cocktail at the Evil Eye in the Mission.
The Equinox at Evil Eye in the Mission is Mint Julep adjacent. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

The Equinox at Evil Eye

The Mission has such a bounty of famous cocktail spots that it’s easy to overlook Evil Eye. (Though this is not the way it ought to be—you want the evil eye to overlook you.) The dark, funky bar and lounge comes complete with pinball machines, a pool table and thoughtfully crafted cocktails. Owner Matt Norris’ commitment to refreshing his menu is impressive. His herbal Equinox—concocted just in time for summer—includes a mix of Botanist gin, kiwi, snap peas, mint, coriander, lime, coconut vinegar and the French bitter known as Suze. I’d call it acidic yet smooth, like a zippier cousin to the julep. The coconut vinegar, Norris notes, is a staple of Filipino cuisine, typically found in adobos, and adds just the right amount of “extra funk.” —AK

💰 $14
📍Evil Eye, 2937 Mission St., Mission District, San Francisco

Sara Deseran can be reached at sdeseran@sfstandard.com
Astrid Kane can be reached at astrid@sfstandard.com