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Lotus Thai

Salmon Lettuce Wraps
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So how many Thai restaurants are there to choose from in San Diego? A quick Internet search came up with 92, and those are the ones that have an active website. So how do you pick the perfect place to enjoy some fabulous Pad Thai? Read on and put Lotus Thai at the top of your list.

With two locations in Hillcrest and Downtown, Lotus Thai has a long history of satiating San Diego Thai food aficionados. We chose the Hillcrest location on Sixth Avenue a tad south of Robinson. After 10 years, this place is still packing them in. Easy to miss if you’re cruising down the street, but so worth spotting and joining the fun.

Lotus Thai is cozy, with a strong Asian flair including lots of bamboo, dark wood, beautiful artwork and a bustling, friendly staff. Not huge, but the tables and booths look to seat about 100 deliriously happy patrons. Owner and creator of many of the establishments unusual dishes, Ton Sangkapong can usually be found on premises. Ton’s family has a long history of restaurateurs with locations from Thailand to Kona. He is a true gent so take a second to search him out to say hello. He’s quick with a smile, and a true pleasure to talk with.

Being adventurous and not looking to order our normal favorites, we boldly asked Ton to create the perfect dinner for the four of us. And that he did. While the kitchen was whipping up some fabulous concoctions, we enjoyed a few of their signature Martinis. The Basil and Lemongrass had a delicious yet light flavor and was a fun way to dive in. The “Silk Pearl” was also memorable served with Soju, champagne, peach puree and strawberry.

Mango Salad
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

The Mango salad started off a flawless meal with a mix of noodles, Mangos and a slightly fiery sauce. Delectable! The corn fritters, little crispy corn cakes with peppercorns, garlic and a plum sauce were not the favorite of the table, but we all ate them up! Main courses ruled at this dinner with the specially prepared whole Duck with Red Curry sauce stealing the show. The Duck was perfect, not fatty and masterfully sliced making it easy to share. All of us were floored by the flavor of the Red Curry, and when asked, Ton shared that their secret is in the cooking order of the ingredients and the time allowed to meld into a dazzling sauce. Any more info than that and it wouldn’t be a secret! Talk about a savory and very bright dish, be sure not to miss the “Tiger in Bangkok” which is a marinated and thinly sliced rib eye steak, tossed with rice powder, onion, cucumber, cilantro and spicy lime. There was not a morsel left on that plate and more would’ve been eagerly devoured given the chance.

Duck with Red Curry
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

So what could top and complete such a perfect meal? How about a big scoop of Deep Fried Ice Cream served aflame? Seriously, when was the last time you ate ice cream that was on fire? The healthy scoop of coconut ice cream was loaded with Jack Fruit and covered in a light crust of corn flakes, deep fried and served with 151 rum to create a delicious and gorgeous dish. Make sure you get a big spoonful of the plum and cucumber salsa to accentuate the already fantastic dessert.

Nothing but good things to say about Lotus Thai from the vibe, the food, the service, right down to the owner himself. Bring the kids, bring your Grandma, and bring a smile. If you don’t have one when you get there you will before you leave. Prices are moderate and the wine list isn’t too bad either. Thanks Ton!

The Good: Still having dreams about the red curry duck.

The Bad: Parking in Hillcrest…need we say more?

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-299-8272
  • Name: Lotus Thai
  • Address: 3761 Sixth Ave