Don’t know about you, but after I empty out my bank shopping in Union Square, it doesn’t sound right to pick up an $80 tab at one of those restaurants with a uniformed man at the door greeting every passerby and making us feel bad for not dining with them. So as much as I wanted to have frog legs and duck tongues or something not-so-homey of sort, we ducked into this rabbit hole in the wall called Bangkok Noodles & Thai BBQ, under Hotel Union Square and next to some equally tiny sport clothing shop.
It is truly, truly, a hole in the wall. But nobody seemed to mind. We had to walk sideway to weave pass the single line of sitting and standing people from the door through a short hall (if the thing between the wall and the divider to the kitchen can be called a hall) to get a table for two. This cookery is the epitome of land conservation. There’s just enough space for one foot at a time between the rows of tables. When the place is packed, like the time I was there, strangers practically sit together, conversations are separated only by the soy sauce and Sriracha bottles.
We just needed a good fill. Mudpie went with khao pad sapparod, fried rice with chicken, shrimp, cashew, raisin, tomato, and a few toothsome wedges of pineapple, a rather reliable combination that’s not so different from Danang Krungthep‘s kao pad namh, just a whole lot milder. I chowed down three sweetly marinated and juicy grilled pork chops with white rice, a very simple salad, and a tangy sauce. Not much is new with Thai barbecued pork, besides it really resembles Vietnamese com suon nuong. Lip smacking good meat fo sho, tho. I even gnawed the bones.
All the while, it was some frenzy time. The cooks and the waitresses shouted to each other across the room in ear blasting Thai, hurried feet scampered all over, people slurping and chatting and toothpicking and flirting, and you’re constantly alert that a bowl of soup or fish sauce could fly down your shoulder with a slip of the tray. But there’s absolutely nothing to complain about the food. In fact, I was grateful to find this livelihood in the wall.
Address: Bangkok Noodles & Thai BBQ
110 Powell St (At the corner with Ellis St)
San Francisco 94102
Take a look at the complete menu, the priciest plates are just $8.25.