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THE BEST SPOT FOR THAI IN DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO
Part of the Best Restaurant of the Month Series
Here we are again, another month gone by. I told you guys about the restaurant of the month series back in this post on TRUST Restaurant in March 2017. Now it's April (well it's actually May, but you get it) and this was a fun one because we found a great new Thai restaurant right at home in downtown San Diego.
The winner for the month of April, and also now dubbed best spot for Thai in downtown San Diego, is Aaharn by Koon Thai in Little Italy. But before we get into the details on Aaharn, lets take a look at some of the other great places we ate in April:
Oscar's Mexican Seafood - The tacos here are always on point. The Taco Especial is the one to order here, served with smoked fish, shrimp and scallops. The shrimp and bacon, shrimp and chorizo, smoked fish and octopus tacos also hold their own. Each taco is perfectly prepared and packed full of fresh seafood flavor.
Puesto - Serving gourmet tacos, and while not cheap ($15 for 3 tacos), they are pretty damn tasty. The lamb barbacoa, grilled market fish and cochinita pibil were delicious. Beware, this place gets busy, but they do take reservations.
Guahan Grill - This is a new Island fusion restaurant in Point Loma (other location is in Oceanside - I have not tried it). The Chamorro style marinated fried pork ribs were amazingly delicious and fall off the bone tender. The Spam and Portuguese sausage was also quite good, served with the most beautiful eggs! You have the option of ordering regular or red rice with most dishes. ALWAYS ORDER RED. That red rice is so freakin' delicious. Let me tell you , if I wasn't such a sucker for Thai food, this would have been our winner.
NOTE: We ate a TON of ramen in April to finish an article on the best ramen in San Diego. That said, ramen was not included as part of the monthly contest because I will soon be posting an entire article about it. Stay tuned, it will be awesome. Said the writer of the article....
BACK TO OUR WINNER...
Aaharn by Koon Thai is a new restaurant by the owners of Koon Thai in Kearney Mesa, and is also now considered (by me) to be the best spot for Thai in downtown San Diego. With the options for good Thai food limited in the city, we were excited to see this place open up. A Thai place we can finally walk to! It is only a block from America plaza, so if you don't feel like walking, hop on the trolley. And the food? I mean obviously we liked it since I'm writing this post. We actually went here twice during April due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. my Mom wanted to try it during her visit), so we got to try a number of different dishes.
The favorite dish both times (MY favorite dish) was the Po Tak. Po Tak is basically tom yum soup served with seafood. Made with lemon grass, lime, ginger, fish sauce and crushed red peppers, I could just pour this broth in a thermos and sip on it all day, it was that good. Mom agreed.
When I see beef jerky on the menu at a Thai restaurant, it becomes what I like to call a "must order." Similar to the way I feel about chicken liver mousse. Marinated in Thai spices then deep fried, these slices of beef have that chewy, jerky texture. I don't know that I needed to specify that the jerky was like jerky, but oh well, some of us just love to hear ourselves talk. I mean write...see ourselves write? Whatever, you get me. I wish that Thai beef jerky was a flavor option in the grocery store.
And then there were ribs, oh delicious ribs. Pork spare ribs marinated in black pepper, garlic and coriander, then deep fried and served with a tasty sweet chili dipping sauce, this was one of my favorites (wait, can all the dishes be my favorite?). The meat was not fall off the bone tender, but the flavors used to marinade the ribs were delicious, and the meat contained the perfect amount of delicious fat. And check out that crispy fried garlic on top, you can't beat fried garlic and pork fat.
Moving on. I do eat more than deep fried meats, I swear!
Another favorite (seriously, another?) dish of the evening was the herby chicken. Marinated in Thai spices and served with spicy lime juice and sweet chili sauce, this roasted chicken was sooooo damn good. Served as half a chicken, both the white and dark meat were incredibly juicy and flavorful. I could have bagged up the skin and just snacked on it for the remainder of my time here on earth, perhaps until someone ripped it out of my cold dead hands. This was definitely the boyfriend's favorite. There was a slight battle over the skin though, I may have stolen more than my fair share. I feel OK about my decision though.
Who goes to a Thai restaurant without ordering the panang curry? Well, probably a lot of people, but I am not one of those. Made with rich coconut milk, a touch of peanut flavor, and served with fresh broccoli and carrots, panang curry is wonderfully delicious. I love the sweet spiciness of the curry. Even though we ordered it mild-medium. As I get older, my tolerance for spicy food seems to decrease. Ahhh the joys of aging. I digress, we can talk about my disappointment with the aging process another time. Right now let's just look at this deliciously sweet, spicy, creamy panang curry.
Lastly, the stewed pork cushion, or Khao Moo Dang. Pork cushion comes from the pork shoulder, a lean and flavorful cut. The sauce served with the pork cushion is drinkable. I mean seriously, so good. I'll just put this in a second thermos, as an accompaniment to my herby chicken skin and po tak broth. I do typically prefer pork with fat, however, this cut was deliciously juicy and packed full of flavor. But I have failed as a food blogger...I forgot the pictures! You know how it is, the prospect of consuming delicious food was just too overwhelming. Who can think about photos with all this delicious food in front of you? Probably a real food blogger.... When I go again I'll take some pictures, try and redeem myself. If that is even possible.
The prices are reasonable for downtown, and the portions are a little smaller than you find in your typical Thai restaurant which provides the opportunity to try more dishes. Always a plus in my book! And I have never been a fan of huge quantities of food. Just make it good and I'll be back. Good food=happiness. Thank you Aaharn for making me happy.
Give this place a shot if you're looking for the best spot for Thai in downtown San Diego. Located in the building that houses the McClintock lofts, the restaurant is right on Kettner where the Flight Path restaurant used to be.
Have you been to Aaharn? What did you think? How about Koon Thai? How do you think this place compares? Where do you think the best spot for Thai in downtown San Diego is? I'd love to hear your comments!
We were offered traditional Thai hospitality with cool lemongrass towels ahead of the food, prawn crackers to nibble on whilst we wait and generally the service was lovely.
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Soi7 was a fine choice for digging into pad Thai or eating the usual selection of red-green-yellow curries, but it reminded me of every average Thai restaurant in America.
Awesome article thank you for sharing.
Josh Brian hockett
well done review. not yet been there myself. may have to now. good insights to the other venues also. i am a big fan of the PL Guahan Grill myself actually. Been there twice so far. Great owners and amazing food with good authenticity.
There are so few places for Thai downtown, it was nice to have a good one come in (the other two are average IMO). And that Guahan Grill is awesome! I'm excited to go back again 🙂
I can't wait to try these when I visit again, great post!
LOL, you ate most of this already!