Osha Thai on the EmbarcaderoFriday, July 10, 2009
If you’re local, you’ve probably already identified your neighborhood Osha. A wildly popular chain in SF serving affordable and tasty Thai food, there is an Osha outpost wherever you turn in this city (Geary, Valencia, 2nd St., Union, Embarcadero).
The Embarcadero locale is the one I frequent the most, and as we discovered a few weeks ago, is the perfect spot for a fancyish group dinner without the fancy prices. We ordered 5 dishes for 6 of us and feasted family style for $17/person including tax and tip.
The ambiance/decor is sexy tropical Asian, think rich colors, exotic statues, orchids, and a demure hostess dressed to the nines. The food hits the spot with that addictive combination of great textures and bright flavors that makes me constantly crave Thai cuisine. Coconut milk curries, chili heat, thai basil, fresh lime, crunchy bean sprouts, roasted peanuts, noodles that are full of what we Chinese call “wok hei.” That savory, magical flavor that can only come out of a high heat, seasoned wok.
When I’m craving Thai, chances are, I want one of two things. Pad Thai or Pad See Ew. While the Pad Thai with shrimp at Jaiya in NY is still my favorite (oh, while we’re reminiscing about NY Thai, the Curry Puffs at Spice! OMG they make me weak in the knees.), this staple dish at Osha does the trick.
I could eat this Pad See Ew all day. So. Good. Made with broad, flat rice noodles, pan fried with Chinese broccoli, egg, a black bean soy sauce, and your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or tofu, this dish is a popular street food in Thailand.
The Pumpkin Curry is another favorite at Osha. Kabocha pumpkin, chicken and bell pepper in a red curry sauce topped with crispy yam slices. The perfect dish for these chilly SF “summer” nights. I love the mild sweetness of the pumpkin mixed with the coconut milk-based curry that I would lick out of the bowl.
The great thing about dining family style with a big group is you have the freedom to get a little adventurous after you’ve ordered all your go-to “must haves.” Our wild card was the Duck Curry, and boy did we get lucky…it may have just earned its place as a new “must have.” Made with the same coconut milk, tomato, red curry, (and maybe…I dunno, crack?) base as the Pumpkin Curry, this version has a rich flavor or duck infused rather than pumpkin, and some lovely chunks of pineapple for a subtle sweetness. The slices of roasted duck arranged on top are crispy, succulent, and perfect.
Our Chocolate Mousse Hazelnut Crunch dessert reminded me of Ferrero Rocher chocolates (those golden nuggets of goodness), with layers of silky chocolate mousse with crispy chocolate wafer pieces crumbled in and hazelnut praline.
All in all, a great night out full of good food and good friends!
4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111