I have a confession to make: I was rejected last Monday, and it was awful.
I went to The Original Sab-e-Lee on the one day of the week they’re closed, but I wasn’t taking no for an answer. The relocation from their Linda Vista address to their, well, new Linda Vista address, happened over a year ago, and I had yet to go. Two days later, I made my inaugural trip to the restaurant that became such a hit after its 2008 opening, it now has 3.5 locations–Rancho Peñasquitos, Santee, and oh, the .5?
Well, slightly hurt from the rejection, Cleveland and I went to lick our wounds (and chopsticks) at Thai Papaya, their spin-off street food eatery. Though a delectable detour, my Sab-E-Lee trip was, per usual, satisfying as ever.
JP and I arrive during lunchtime, both famished from skipping breakfast, so it is great there is no wait for a table, given they have 40+ seats, and the fact it is a Wednesday afternoon.
I let JP order everything because he seems to know exactly what he’s craving; plus, it was nice not worrying about what to order for once. I do put in a vote for noodles, though, because I love my carbs. He also orders everything at Level 5, my usual, even though he typically likes a higher heat index. Noted.
It is my first time having Tom Ka Soup as I typically get the Tom Yum, and it is great. Mushrooms, lemongrass, coconut milk, and lime juice, a great mediator between us and the spices we are about to ingest. The portion is large enough for three, but we are so hungry, we nearly finish it, anyway.
Next on the menu, Papaya Salad, the standard veggie version, and we nearly finish this one as well. I appreciate the consistency between here and Thai Papaya, but also for JP liking the little shrimp in the dish, leaving me more peanuts for the picking.
We then have the Spicy Raw Beef (Koy Nua). I’ve only had this dish once before, and it was so long ago, it might as well have been my first again. The dish comes with thinly-sliced raw beef marinated in lime sauce, mixed with garlic and mint. You can eat it with the included chopped cabbage, but we order Sticky Rice as a better alternative. It is fantastic, and I cannot imagine a future meal here without it.
Now, to the carbo-load! When I go to a new Thai restaurant, my calibration dish is either the Pad-See-Ew or the Drunken Noodles, the latter of which is what we order for our fourth and final dish. It is good as expected, with its flat rice noodles, bell peppers, cilantro, and a protein of your choice. My indicator for a well-constructed dish is how much gravy is present. Too much is distracting and too little makes it too dry, and here, just like Mama Bear, the amount is just right.
I have experienced nothing short of kindness when I dine here. The service is good, not excessively attentive, and not negligent either. Their new location lost a bit of the family dinner table feel, but the warmth, thankfully, still remains.
Newer and bigger isn’t always better, and though their newer and bigger digs are, everything else isn’t. *pause for gasps of horror* Slow your rolls. What I mean is they’ve maintained the quality in their food and service that was ever-present at their former location. Hence, in perfect form, staying just the way you are is the best practice. =)